The position of the Indian Cricket Team’s coach was first established in 1990 when former spinner Bishan Singh Bedi took over that role. Ever since then, a total of 12 people have coached Team India, all of them being former cricketers and nine of them being former cricketers of the Indian Team.
Many of these coaches have tasted tremendous success during their tenures and without further ado, let’s take a look at India’s five greatest coaches.
The former skipper led India to a few overseas victories when he was captain and took over the position of the coach of the Indian team from Abbas Ali Baig following India’s disappointing outing at the 1992 World Cup. Wadekar eventually became India’s first full-time coach and coached the team in 22 Tests and 71 ODIs. Under Wadekar’s tutelage, India won 11 Tests and went unbeaten in the format from 1992-1994 that included a 3-0 whitewash of a strong visiting England side that comprised Graham Gooch, Alec Stewart, Mike Gatting, Neil Fairbrother, and Graeme Hick.In ODIs, India won 41 of the 71 ODIs in which Wadekar coached them, reaching the semi-finals of the 1996 World Cup in the process. Under Wadekar, India also won a few multi-nation tournaments including the 1994 Asia Cup, the Wills World Series in 1994, the Singer World Series in 1994, and the CAB Jubilee Tournament in 1993.However, during his tenure, India struggled overseas, with their best performance outside the subcontinent being the drawn ODI and Test series in New Zealand in 1994.
4 Duncan Fletcher
The former Zimbabwean cricketer, who led Zimbabwe to their maiden World Cup win, took over the reins from Gary Kirsten following India’s World Cup triumph in 2011. It is speculated that Kirsten recommended Fletcher for the position.Fletcher coached India from 2011 till the 2015 World Cup, a period that included 39 Tests, 109 ODIs, and 25 T20Is.
Under his tutelage, India won 14 Tests, 64 ODIs, and 15 T20Is. India’s most notable successes under Fletcher were winning the 2013 Champions Trophy, reaching the final of the 2014 World T20, and reaching the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
However, India also went through some rough patches overseas that included 4-0 Test series whitewashes against England and Australia during the 2011/12 season and the 3-1 and 2-0 losses to Australia during the 2014/15 season.Aside from their performances in ICC tournaments outside the subcontinent, India’s most notable performance overseas was their 3-1 ODI series win over England in England in 2014. From January 2013 to November 2013, the Men in Blue won eight consecutive series, including the Champions Trophy.
Under Fletcher, India were nearly invincible at home and whitewashed the Australians 4-0 in the 2013 Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Despite coaching India to the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup, Fletcher’s contract was not renewed.
Jumbo’s tenure as India coach lasted only a year but during that period, the Indian team produced some scintillating performances. Under Kumble’s, India won each and every Test series they played although most of them were at home. They also became the No.1 ranked Test team during that period.India also won every ODI series they played during Kumble’s time as head coach.The only series they lost was the T20 series against West Indies in the USA and the 2017 Champions Trophy where they were beaten by Pakistan in the final. Overall, India won 11 out of 15 Tests (drawing three and losing 1), 8 out of 13 ODIs, and 2 out of 5 T20Is.
Kumble was expected to have his contract renewed at the end of the Champions Trophy with BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee hinting that he would be reappointed as the coach. However, the former leg-spinner eventually resigned as the coach of the Indian Cricket Team with rumours suggesting that a rift between Kumble and Indian skipper Virat Kohli was the reason he stepped down.Had Kumble not resigned, he could have probably taken Indian Cricket to newer heights.
Following India’s shocking first round exit at the 2007 World Cup, Greg Chappell resigned as the coach of the Indian Cricket Team. For the next few months, Lalchand Rajput was named the manager of the team before Gary Kirsten was appointed the full-time coach.Under Kirsten, India went from strength to strength, with many younger players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Suresh Raina rising through the ranks.
Kirsten had a very good relationship with skipper MS Dhoni and this became one of the most popular captain-coach combinations in the sport. This helped India become the No.1 ranked Test side in the world, in 2009. The Men in Blue registered two Test series wins against Australia in 2008 and 2010 and also tasted success overseas as they defeated New Zealand in a Test series on their own turf in 2009 whilst also managing to draw a series in South Africa in 2010.
In ODIs under Kirsten, India registered overseas series wins in New Zealand, won the Asia Cup in 2010 and witnessed one of their finest cricketing moments as they won the 2011 World Cup following which the South African was carried on the shoulders of the Indian players.
In 2000, Indian cricket went through its darkest hour with skipper Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja being accused of match-fixing. At this point, India were given a new captain in Sourav Ganguly and a new coach in John Wright who was the first foreigner to coach India.The partnership between Wright and Ganguly benefited Indian Cricket as they tasted overseas success in both Tests and ODIs. It was during this period that young cricketers like Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, and Harbhajan Singh were given opportunities to shine.
Under Wright’s tutelage, India experienced some of their most successful moments, breaking Australia’s winning streak of 16 Test matches by defeating them at Eden Gardens in 2001 before clinching the series in Chennai.
India’s other triumphs included drawing Test series in England and Australia, winning the Nat west Series in 2002, and beating Pakistan in their own backyard in both Tests and ODIs in 2004.India were the joint winners of the Champions Trophy in 2002 but their biggest success under Wright was reaching the World Cup final in 2003 in South Africa. Sure Gary Kirsten helped India win the World Cup but it was Wright who really had to build the team from scratch. Hence, Wright slightly edges out Gary Kirsten to make it to the top spot on the list.