Former captain Ravi Shastri’s appointment as Team Director till the end of the 2015 ICC World Cup was expected, but it still needs to be appreciated and applauded.
For a premier event in international cricket, the Indian team needed a personality with vast experience apart from a chief coach, and Shastri fits the bill. After all, he has been part of the team in three World Cups — 1983, 1987 and 1992. Plus, he has watched India’s progress in all the remaining editions from the commentary box.
Chief coach Duncan Fletcher doesn’t need to be watched over, but he sure needs a sounding board with some authority.
Shastri did a good job in England from what players have said about the 3-1 ODI series win, and he said all the right things in the media.
For years, well-meaning observers of Indian cricket have felt the team, more than anything, needs a good, strong team manager with a cricketing background. Supporters of that train of thought would be smiling again today, just like they did when Shastri was first appointed Team Director after all hell broke loose following India’s 1-3 Test series loss in England.
Shastri has a proven record when it comes to mentoring teams. Mumbai batsman Amol Muzumdar illustrated this at his retirement press conference on Thursday. Muzumdar had no hesitation in saying that Shastri was the best captain he played under. He provided an example:
The night before the 1993-94 Mumbai vs Bengal Ranji Trophy
final in Mumbai, captain Shastri addressed a young Mumbai side, which got so charged up that they felt they were ready to take on Bengal that very night.
Of course, the Indian team is at a different level, but even the best of players need a pat on the back and a kick in the butt. Shastri can perform both these roles well.
India’s World Cup preparation has already begun with Shastri’s appointment. Leaving our cynicism aside, we must keep the faith.