So peerless has his batting form been of late that it’s almost impossible to imagine that Virat Kohli overcame a bout of insecurity as recently as four months ago. But when he boarded the flight to Sri Lanka in July, Kohli claims to have sensed a glitch in his technique.
His last competitive outing had been the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he had looked hassled at the crease and was getting caught off leading edges. More than once, he had walked off the field mouthing expletives, livid at his own indiscretions.
A determined Kohli, desperate to iron out the blemish, had spent close to 45 minutes in the nets during India’s first practice session at Hambantota, Sri Lanka. As he took his pads off, the prolific Delhi right-hander received a nudge on his back, along with a word of advice. A discreet technical nugget, which he says, changed his batting completely.
“It was a complete wonder. I was too side-on in my stance and was struggling to sight the ball. He (coach Duncan Fletcher) just told me to open my shoulders a little while hitting the ball,” recalls Kohli, who has since then averaged 69.25 across all formats.
The inconspicuous surveillance and the offhand yet pertinent remark from the sidelines are trademarks of Fletcher’s methods as coach. They are as much a part of his personality as are his Zen-like countenance, the dark shades he always wears and the prominent jowls.
Awe-inspiring, Braveheart-type speeches are certainly not his style.
Taking over from Gary
In Fletcher’s predecessor Gary Kirsten, Team India had a hands-on operator. Like Fletcher, the affable South African, who was India’s coach between 2008 and 2011, was understated, but there were many things he did differently. He would throw down thousands of deliveries in the nets, have animated conversations with his players and set an example with his fitness.
In contrast, Fletcher, who took over as Team India’s coach last April, is old-school and more detached—an astute analyst of the game, prone to making pointed observations instead of loud statements.
Unfortunately, the 64-year-old Zimbabwean’s reign has coincided with India’s worst run of form in a while—a downslide amplified by the heady heights that Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co had reached just before Fletcher’s arrival.
The daggers are already out with various sections of the Indian cricket fraternity calling for a premature termination of the former England