By Debdoot Das
Move over the cricket stars, there are people who strive to make the team succeed constantly behind the doors and they never get plaudits nor brickbats.
The faceless army of 15 support staff behind the Indian team work tirelessly to keep the players in fine fettle, both mentally and physically and they avoid the public glare, but take care of the needs of the players and keep them fresh for the big battles.
The enviable seven-match winning run in the ongoing mega tournament in Australia-New Zealand has justified the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) selection of the support staff, and its sheer size – 15, the highest for any side in the competition.
India’s stupendous show so far has silenced the critics, at least for now, who had been demanding the removal of head coach Duncan Fletcher for poor form in the build-up to the tournament.
The former Zimbabwe captain was appointed coach on April 27, 2011, soon after India won the World Cup, filling in the shoes of South African Gary Kirsten who recommended Fletcher for the job.
The quiet and amiable man was no Greg Chappell who tried to change Indian cricket overnight with his iron-fisted approach.
Under the 66-year-old, India achieved eight back-to-back series victories in 2013, including the prestigious Champions Trophy.
Fletcher, however, came under fire when the team lost the away Test series against England 1-3.
The BCCI then decided to overhaul the backroom staff. Fielding coach Trevor Penny and bowling coach Joe Dawes were sacked with former India skipper Ravi Shastri coming in as director of Cricket for the One-Day International (ODI) series.
Joining Shastri were former India players Sanjay Bangar (batting coach), Bharat Arun (bowling coach) and ex-Hyderabad left-arm spinner R. Sridhar (fielding coach).
The change of guard bore fruit as the Indians clinched the ODI series 3-1.
“All three of them have done an excellent job in the short period,” Shastri said after the series.
Shastri, known for his deep reading of the game, was roped in by the BCCI hoping he could use all his experiences to get the team’s lost confidence back.
After the ODI series success, the board retained Shastri and Co. for the World Cup and the Australia series.
India’s performances in the Test and ODI series were far from inspiring but the World Cup saw the beginning of a new dawn.
Bangar got his appointment in August last year following his successful stint as coach of Kings XI Punjab as did Sridhar, who grabbed eyeballs as the fielding coach of the same Indian Premier League (IPL) franshise.
Arun, who played two Tests and four ODIs in 1986-87, tasted success as in-charge of the team that won the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2012.
Arun seems to have done wonders in his present assignment, with Indian bowlers skittling out their opponents in each of the seven matches so far.
Sridhar previously worked with the Indian senior side in 2011, helping it with its preparations for the World Cup at home. The Mysore-born was also part of the Indian Under-19 coaching staff in 2012 when the Unmukt Chand-led side lifted the trophy in Australia.
The Indian players’ energetic ground fielding, acrobatic saves and catches are testimony to his hard work.
Besides the above quintet, team manager Arshad Ayub – another former Indian cricketer – physiotherapist Nitin Patel, team’s mental conditioner V.P. Sudarshan, media officer D.R. Baba round off the the support staff.
The other backroom staff: Assistant trainer: Raghu Srinivasan; Video analyst: Sandeep Anand; Masseur: Ramesh Mane; Yoga and masseur: Amit Shah; Logistic manager: M.N. Satheesh; and Security officer: Doug Lyons.(IANS)