Indian cricket may be high on flair and natural talent, but when it comes to planning for a series, it can even ‘beat’ the worst.

The India vs England Test series that kicks off on November 15 in Ahmedabad is one of the most critical home series in recent years. It is hoped that coach Duncan Fletcher, who has been criticised in the media for appearing to be a mute spectator as India continues to underperform in the longer version of the game, will insist on a camp before his former team sets foot on our shores.

The 0-4 whitewash in England last year must act as a motivator for India to maintain their home superiority over England. Records don’t matter when it comes to renewing rivalry, but the fact is, England have been able to win only two Test series on Indian soil over the last 40 years as against India’s five.

Fletcher will do well to do a John Wright. Before the all-important home series against Australia in 2001, coach Wright had India’s best players in Chennai at a camp which he thus described in his book John Wright’s Indian Summers: “Twenty-five players attended our camp, which went from
7 am to 7 pm for 10 days. There were two three-hour sessions — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — and at night we planned. It was relentless — there was hardly a moment when someone wasn’t hitting catches and the players moaned endlessly about the battering their hands were taking — and it was hot.”

England will be hard to beat. Although coaches have a limited role to play in the success of a team for obvious reasons (they don’t score runs and take wickets), India couldn’t possibly ask for a better man than Fletcher, a former England coach, to chart out plans to outwit Alastair Cook’s team.

This is Fletcher’s great chance to prove his detractors wrong.