Duncan Fletcher appointed as Indian coach

Mumbai: Duncan Fletcher was on Wednesday appointed India`s cricket coach to replace the highly successful Gary Kirsten, ending weeks of suspense on who will take over the high-profile job.

The 62-year-old former Zimbabwe captain, who coached England from 1999 to 2007 with mixed results, has been appointed for two years.

The decision to appoint Fletcher, whose name was doing the rounds as a possible successor to Kirsten, was taken at the BCCI`s Working Committee meeting here. The announcement came as a surprise as the BCCI had given no indication that it would name the coach today.

"Duncan Fletcher has been appointed as Coach of the Indian cricket team for two years," BCCI secretary N Srinivasan said in a release issued here.

Talking to reporters afterwards, Srinivasan said it was not yet clear whether Fletcher would be able to join the team in time for the West Indies tour in June-July as he had prior commitments.

Eric Simmons, who was the bowling coach during Kirsten`s tenure, will continue in the same position, he said.

BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla said the terms and conditions of Fletcher`s appointment would be the same as Kirsten`s.

"After a lot of thought and consultation, BCCI president and BCCI secretary placed Fletcher`s name before the Working Committee, which the Committee ratified," Shukla said when asked why Fletcher was selected over other contenders.

According to BCCI sources, current England coach Andy Flower was also considered, but he was reluctant. Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming, reportedly one of the contenders, was not in the race, they said.

After quitting the England`s coaching, Fletcher worked with the South African team as a batting consultant in 2008 and most recently this year before the World Cup.

He joined New Zealand in a similar role during their tour of India last year.
 
Fletcher, who captained Zimbabwe during the 1983 World Cup and played just six one-dayers during the African nation`s pre-Test days, had mixed results as England coach.

The high points of his career were England`s Ashes triumph over Australia in the home series of 2005, England`s first series win in West Indies in 36 years and the team earning the third spot in Test rankings.

Fletcher was the first foreigner to coach England`s cricket team. Known to be a task-master, he guided England to eight straight Test wins.

The biggest moment came in 2005 when England bested a star-studded Australian team to win the Ashes for the first time since 1987.

The Zimbabwean was honoured by Britain`s Royalty with an OBE. But later, England`s form slid and his performance came under the scanner.

England managed to draw series in India and Pakistan but the 0-5 whitewash in the 2006-07 Ashes series in Australia led to widespread criticism of Fletcher, who refused to step down at that stage.

England`s early exit from the 2007 World Cup forced him to quit.

Fletcher, whose name was reportedly suggested to the BCCI by Kirsten himself, has a tough job on hands as the amiable South African has set a high benchmark and finished the stint with the World Cup win.

With Kirsten at the helm, India reached the top of Test rankings and number two in the ODIs. He gave up the job to spend more time with his family.

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