India appoint Duncan Fletcher as national cricket coach

World Cup winners India have appointed former England boss Duncan Fletcher as coach on a two-year contract.

The 62-year-old succeeds South African Gary Kirsten and becomes their fourth successive foreign coach.

Fletcher won a record eight consecutive Tests for England in 2004 before guiding the team to a long overdue Ashes success in 2005.

England coach Andy Flower was the Indian board's first choice but he was unwilling to uproot his family.

Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, now coaching Indian Premier League side Chennai Super Kings, was another possible candidate.

But it is thought Flower, also from Zimbabwe, was always reluctant having settled in England. Fleming was viewed as a long shot, and had publicly distanced himself from the role.

Michael Vaughan,external-link the former England captain who formed a close bond with Fletcher during their most successful period, tweeted: "Great coach who will work well with [India captain Mahendra] Dhoni.

"Duncan will work well with all the talent. His biggest challenge will come from the media. He has never really understood how it works."

Fletcher's first major assignment with India, the number one Test side, will come when they tour England from mid-July for the summer's eagerly awaited tour. It features Tests at Lord's, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and The Oval, plus one Twenty20 international and five one-day internationals.

Leading up to that is an Indian tour of the West Indies in June, featuring one Twenty20 international, five one-day internationals and three Tests. Fletcher may not be involved in that.

"He may not join the team in the West Indies as he has some prior commitments," Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary, N Srinivasan, said.

New Zealand's former Test captain John Wright was the first man from overseas to take the job regarded as the most heavily scrutinised in cricket.

Wright was in the post between 2000 and 2005 before ex-Australia skipper Greg Chappell took over for two years.

After the 2007 World Cup, India had no full-time coach, relying on specialist bowling and fielding coaches instead. That ended when Kirsten, a former South African batsman closely mentored by Fletcher at Western Province, took over in March 2008.

Former India spinner Maninder Singh believes the appointment of Fletcher is a good one.

"I played a bit of cricket with him and he was a very intelligent cricketer," Singh told the BBC. "He has done wonders with English cricket.

"But I think he will have to be careful when he comes to coaching the Indian team because in India it is better that the coach is there in the background instead of trying to come in front.

"He will have to do what Gary Kirsten and John Wright did, keep talking to the boys, keep encouraging the boys and I think he could do wonders with them because there is a lot of talent in India.

"He will have to work with the younger boys in the team. They are a very talented lot but somewhere down the line they are not able to perform consistently when playing international cricket."

Fletcher, who was honoured with an OBE after England's 2005 Ashes win over Australia, is known for picking players on hunches rather than on statistical achievements - a notable example being the highly successful Somerset opener Marcus Trescothick.

But he is also known not to suffer fools gladly, and Graeme Swann famously made only one appearance under his regime, Fletcher feeling the off-spinner was a loose cannon.

Eric Simons, who was India's bowling coach during Kirsten's tenure, will continue in his role and is likely to enjoy a good relationship with Fletcher through their Western Province links.

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