India in SA
Ashwin: Players are to blame
Ravichandran Ashwin (AFP)
Johannesburg - Their poor record away from home in Test cricket is the fault of the players and not the coach, says Indian spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin.
“As players, we have to accept the failure and admit we have failed as a group," Ashwin said in Johannesburg on Thursday.
"The team has to accept it, rather than saying the coach has not had a great record. We’ve not had a great record.”
Fletcher took over the reigns from Gary Kirsten in 2011 and, at the start of his tenure, the team suffered series whitewashes -- to England and Australia -- in the 2011/2012 season.
Ashwin said the support staff facilitated behind the scenes on tour but were limited in what they could do for the players on the field.
“Their role is always about creating a good environment. They make sure we have good facilities for practice and try and aid somebody who is going through a lean patch.
“We had poor tours of Australia and England but Fletcher has always been on the mark in terms of arranging practice and in terms of what guys want, going to them and talking to them."
Ashwin said the coach had never been shy of telling players when he felt they were under-performing, and would also suggest a batsman or bowler change their approach where necessary.
Returning fast bowler Zaheer Khan – who did not play in the One-Day International series against South Africa – said the mental approach of India would be the key.
“First of all, you've got to have that belief, and you've got to back yourself and play good cricket,” Khan said.
“For any team to do well anywhere, you need to have good days together and keep coming back all the time with the belief. That was our success mantra during the earlier tours and this tour also we will look to do the same.”
Khan had been particularly menacing when bowling to South African Test captain Graeme Smith, dismissing the left-hander on 13 occasions in international cricket.
“I think I just have to turn up there [to get Smith out],” said the man who prides himself on swinging the new ball and getting the old ball to reverse.
“Having said that, Graeme Smith has got a terrific record in Test matches and he's a good leader.
"When you go into a match, it's an advantage to have that edge over someone who has been a good opener and been scoring consistently at the highest leve