Of foreign Tests and foreign coaches

Last Updated: Mon, Aug 18, 2014 11:48 hrs

India won the World Cup in 1983 and since then it has generally been doing well in ODIs, coach or no coach. We also won the T20 WC after the coach had been sacked. Home Tests have been sorted out by our batsmen and spinners, many a times we just go on auto pilot and one feels anyone could captain India.

If there’s one thing in which we are highly inconsistent that has to be foreign Tests. A look at the different eras of Team India in overseas Tests…

1932-68: At the beginning, we were the worst overseas travellers that one could think of. We played 43 foreign Test and won exactly zero of them. Yes, you heard that right. Zilch!We lost 29 matches and drew 14.

In fact from 1959-68, we were whitewashed in four straight series: 0-5, 0-5, 0-3 and 0-4.

1968-92: At the end of the fourth whitewash as mentioned above, in fact in the very next month, we toured New Zealand. We surprised everyone by winning the first Test at Dunedin. We lost the second and everyone must have thought that the woeful India back.

But we won the 3rd and 4th Tests to win 3-1, a record that we are yet to match. That is winning three Tests in an away series. This was solely due to our spinners. In the series EAS Prasanna took 24 wickets, Bishan Singh Bedi 16 and Bapu Nadkarni 14.

But this was no flash in the pan and we started winning more regularly abroad.We won the very next series 1-0 each in West Indies and England. In New Zealand in 1976 it was 1-1, Australia 1981 1-1 and England 1986 2-0.

Overall our win-loss record was 12-31. Not that great, but much better than the blank till 1968. We ended with a 0-4 in Australia and that’s when the coaches were brought in.

Indian coaches, 1992-2000: In October 1992,Ajit Wadekar, the captain of the victorious 1971 tour was made manager and he was virtually the coach, a title that was later used. He was succeeded by Sandeep Patil, Madan Lal, Anshuman Gaekwad and Kapil Dev, all Indians.

Incidentally, they did no good for foreign Tests for India and our win-loss record now stood at 1-10. The only win came in Sri Lanka and not even one Test was won outside the Indian sub-continent during this period.

When we were whitewashed 0-3 in Australia, there was no way in which Kapil could have continued.

John Wright, 2000-05: Wright was our first foreign coach and set about professionalizing the system and putting processes in place. His foreign Test win-loss record stood at a sterling 10-11. Even though the statistics were boosted by Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, we fought well.

We held England to a draw 1-1 and the same with the mighty world champions in the form of Australia. In fact we came very close to beating Steve Waugh’s men. Wright’s crowning moment was Pakistan.

From 1955-1989, we played 20 matches in Pakistan losing 5 and drawing 15. But in 2004 not only did we win our first Test, but we won the series 2-1.

Greg Chappell,2005-07: This was too short a stint to be counted, but still we had a 4-3 record. We finally won in Zimbabwe 2-0, lost narrowly to Pakistan 0-1, won 1-0 in West Indies and won our first Test in South Africa to finally lose 1-2.

Gary Kirsten, 2008-11: Under Kirsten our win-loss record was 6-4 and still a healthy 4-4 if you removed Bangladesh. We won in New Zealand 1-0 and for the first time didn’t lose in South Africa (1-1).

Though Kirsten was officially appointed coach later, he did travel with the Indian team to Australia in the infamous Monkeygate series where we went down fighting 1-2.

Duncan Fletcher, 2011-14: Fletcher inherited an ICC No. 1 team which had just won the World Cup and won his first Test series in West Indies 1-0. It must have seemed an easy job to coach Team India but it has been downhill after that.

We have lost five straight Test series after that during which our win-loss ratio stands at an abysmal 1-13 and we are back to the 1990s. A decade of good work has been totally undone.

So will Fletcher continue to Australia in December or will we get a new coach who will revive our fortunes?

That’s the crore-Rupee question!

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/