Birmingham, Aug 11: It has been all of four months since Gary Kirsten handed over the reins of Team India coach to Duncan Fletcher. And with India well on the way to suffering what could be its worst Test series loss in decades, fingers have already started pointing to the sexagenarian Zimbabwean.
Is it just a question of teething problems and finding one's bearings with a new team that has led to such a poor second assignment, that being the current England tour? Or does Fletcher inherently lack the killer instinct that Kirsten so effortlessly seem to transfuse his boys with? Sure, Fletcher knows all about moulding a winning side from scratch - he led England to an Ashes triumph.
But is his acumen as a guide on the wane? Could it be his propensity to take for granted that he has a world-beater side on his hands and therefore not much physical tweaking or psychological conditioning is required? Complacency breeds indolence and these might very well define the state of the Indian psyche at present.
During Gary Kirsten's stint as coach of Team India, the performance of the side improved by leaps and bounds and it consistently came out tops in its many encounters. When he finally put in his papers after India lifted the World Cup in April this year, the occasion was a fitting culmination to an illustrious term.
Kirsten seemed more than a lucky charm. No sooner had he assumed the role of coach on March 1, 2008 than India won the the Commonwealth Bank series Down Under, beating Australia in the best-of-three final. Then India went on to hold South Africa to a 1-1 draw in a Test series at home in March-April 2008.
With Kirsten at the helm of affairs, India had won 5 out of 9 one-day tournaments/series, while claiming victory in 3 Test series, drawing four others and losing just 1. So Kirsten's winning percentage is over 50 in both formats of the game. When Fletcher decides to call it quits with India, will his record reflect Kirsten's or indicate that he was long since over the hill?