Mumbai: Former captain Dilip Vengsarkar on Monday called for the immediate sacking of coach Duncan Fletcher and other support staff in the wake of India`s humiliating Test series loss to England and came down heavily on captain M S Dhoni for making "glaring mistakes" for which the team paid a heavy price.
Vengsarkar said that Dhoni led the team poorly right through the series with field placings and strategies which defied common sense but there was no one ready to take over the mantle of captaincy.
"Dhoni led the team poorly. His selection policy, strategy, field placing and bowling changes lacked common sense. He made some glaring mistakes match after match for which India paid heavily," Vengsarkar told PTI in an interview here.
"Unfortunately for him and India, he had Duncan Fletcher as the coach who, it seems, is devoid of any ideas and has no clue as to how to turn things around. He, it seems, hardly motivated the young team", he said.
The 116-Test veteran said that the support staff should be sacked immediately as they have really let down the team very badly.
"The support staff and the think tank really let down the team very badly. I hope the BCCI sacks them immediately unless they go once again by what the senior players in the team feel about them" he said.
Vengsarkar was also scathing in his criticism of the selection panel headed by Sandeep Patil and said the committee lacked vision and had failed to groom players for different slots.
"The glaring facts are that we do not have anybody to take over from Dhoni straightaway as our cupboards are absolutely empty. We just haven`t groomed players for different slots. If they have Indian cricket at heart then it`s time the BCCI must wear its thinking cap and atleast plan for the future", he pointed out.
Excerpts from the exclusive interview PTI did with the 58-year-old former selection panel chief who scored back to back hundreds at Lord`s on the tours of 1979, 1982 and 1986.
Q: What reasons do you attribute to this debacle in the five-Test series?
Vengsarkar: The first and foremost is that of late the BCCI is not giving much importance to Test cricket as it was evident from the fact that there was hardly any preparations for the tour of five Test matches. Besides, the itinerary was poorly drawn as there were no side games either before the Test series or in-between the Test matches that did not allow the out of form players to get back into form and also those seven reserves sitting on the sidelines to get a much-needed match practice.
Mind you, we have taken a party of 18 players besides almost equal number of so-called support staff. The bowling looked incapable of getting 20 wickets to win the Test matches and the batsmen were hopelessly out of place. They not only lacked technique to combat the moving ball, but they lacked application, commitment and stomach to fight it out. They looked like hapless lambs to slaughter. And, the fact is that they committed the same mistakes innings after innings. I wonder what the batting, bowling and fielding coaches were doing on the tour?
Q: Were selections faulty in the first place and then in England?
V: Well, the selectors had the easiest job as they picked the best possible available team of as many as 18 players, for they never bothered to create options. They lack vision, judgment and courage of conviction. They prefered easier route to go with the tide.
Q: Do you feel the team`s focus was off a bit after the (Ravindra) Jadeja-(James) Anderson spat and India`s insistence on getting Anderson banned as suggested by some former cricketers like Michael Vaughan.
V: I don`t think so. These things happen in Test cricket and are a part and parcel of the game. If such things affect you and if you do not have the guts to give it back then Test cricket (is) not the place for you. In that case they can opt for a softer game and not Test match cricket. Test cricket surely separates men from the boys.
Q: Would you advocate some of our players going and playing in the English county cricket?
V: It`s very important for young cricketers to play in English County matches. It not only will give them experience to play in different conditions but the exposure they will get will surely stand them in good stead in future.
Q: How did you adapt to the English conditions as you were very successful on the tours to that place during your career?
V: One has to make adjustments in one`s technique. One must not only push at the deliveries but its very important to play side-on all the time (like Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane). And more importantly, one must be mentally ready to slug it out in the middle session after session and not give up.
Q: What is the way out short term and long term?
V: The glaring facts are that we do not have anybody to take over from Dhoni straightaway as our cupboards are absolutely empty. We just haven`t groomed players for different slots. If they have Indian cricket at heart then it`s time the BCCI must wear its thinking cap and atleast plan for the future.
The tours of under 19s, A teams (under-23) must be planned to groom talent that can take place of out of form or deadwoods in the team. The NCA must act as the supply line to Test cricket and must be revamped at the earliest. For the sake of Indian cricket, I hope it`s just not the wishful thinking.