Mumbai: Former England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher was appointed to the high-pressure post of India coach on Wednesday, less than one month after the country won the World Cup on home soil.
India had been on the look-out to replace South African Gary Kirsten who stepped down from the role following his success in guiding the cricket-crazy nation to victory in the showpiece event.
Fletcher, a former Zimbabwean all-rounder who came to prominence as a coach when reviving the England team over several years and helping them regain the Ashes in 2005, has been awarded a two-year contract.
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary N. Srinivasan made the announcement in Mumbai, naming Fletcher over other possible choices including New Zealander Stephen Fleming and Zimbabwean Andy Flower.
Fletcher, a taciturn 62-year-old, takes over one of the biggest jobs in cricket before India tour the West Indies in June followed by an important tour of England from July to September.
“The contract with Fletcher is for two years. He may not join the team in the West Indies as he has some prior commitments,” Srinivasan told reporters after a BCCI meeting.
India are currently ranked number one in Test cricket, and number two in one-day internationals.
Fletcher, who played six one-day internationals for his country, was credited with turning around England’s fortunes in Tests under captains Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan during his eight-year stint.
After taking the reins in 1999 as England’s first foreign coach, he oversaw Test series wins over Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the West Indies.
With Vaughan, he helped England win their first Test series in South Africa in the post-apartheid era in 2005, before guiding them to the historic Ashes victory the same year, their first since 1986-87.
However he could not taste similar success in one-day internationals and resigned following England’s disappointing 2007 World Cup campaign in the Caribbean where his team failed to qualify for the semi-finals.
Vaughan said Fletcher would enjoy the challenge of working with Indian players but might struggle under the constant press attention.
“Duncan will work well with all the talent,” he wrote on Twitter. “His biggest challenge will come from the media. He has never really understood how it works.”
Fletcher has recently served as a consultant to South Africa and New Zealand.