Duncan Fletcher: Wearing velvet glove over iron fist

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SummaryFormer wards call him disciplinarian and the best man to replace Kirsten

With an ungainly bowling action and modest returns in international cricket, there were not many who rated Ashley Giles too highly as a spinner, not even in England. But if there was one man, who backed the tall left-arm spinner to the hilt, and saw him flourish under his wings, it was the former England coach Duncan Fletcher, now contracted by BCCI for the next two years.

Having worked with and under him during a major part of his playing days, there is an evident sense of elation in Giles’s voice when he is told about Fletcher’s latest assignment.

“Following the great work that Gary Kirsten has done with the Indian team, anyone who steps into his shoes will have a difficult job on his hand. But if there’s one man who is fit to take over, it’s Duncan,” said Giles, an acclaimed coach himself these days with his home-county of Warwickshire to The Indian Express.

Forever sporting the jowly expression bordering on a scowl that he is now renowned for, Fletcher comes across as some stern and not easy to please. But those who have worked with him closely say the former Zimbabwe captain doesn’t believe in ruling with an iron-fist, despite coming into a job with bunch of well-entrenched values and philosophies. They is keen on discipline but is not an authoritarian.

“He is not a hard taskmaster like some make him out to be. He does have his own set of rules, but doesn’t believe in imposing them upon the players,” says Giles.

And the jowl is mainly a result of the seriousness with which Fletcher approaches every single assignment. Like former South African fast bowler Craig Matthews says, his former coach in fact is among the best people to hang out with when it comes to relaxing after a tough day at work.

“You might get an impression while looking at him that he is bearing the whole weight of the world on his shoulders,” says Matthews, who captained Western Province when Fletcher was the coach during the mid-nineties.

Fletcher’s greatest attribute, however, most say is his ability to bring players together and get them to work towards a common goal. He is also known be a coach, who doesn’t mind working around the system and doesn’t remain steadfast on his individualistic principles.

“He brings a very business-like attitude to his coaching. You will see that very early he will make it clear that

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