London: His report will decide Duncan Fletcher's future as India's cricket coach and Ravi Shastri, who served as Team Director during the just-concluded limited overs series against England, has put his weight behind the under-fire Zimbabwean by calling him a 'solid character'.
Ravi Shastri and Duncan Fletcher
Speaking to 'ESPNCricinfo', Shastri lavished praise on Fletcher, who is under the scanner after a mixed tour of England during which the Indians were thrashed in the Test series before bouncing back to win the ODIs.
"He is tremendous. He would have done over a 100 Tests as coach, which is massive. He is technically very sound. He is a solid character. He is respected. He is a fatherly figure," Shastri said.
"I knew Fletcher from the 1983 World Cup. Then in 1984 I led an India Under-25 side to Zimbabwe, where he was my
counterpart. So I was aware of his leadership qualities already. Also what made Fletcher's job easier was having the
trio of Sanjay Bangar, Bharat Arun and R Sridhar as his assistant coaches," he added.
"Fletcher is the coach. He looks after the handling of various things including little, little stuff. My experience comes into play from the outside - of having been there, done that. The fact that I watch so much is a massive help. And my
personality is such if I feel like saying something I don't hold back. I don't care who it is."
Speaking about his own stint with the team, Shastri said he is glad to have made a positive difference after the 1-3
loss in the Test series.
"I got more than I would have expected. I say that only because of England's record at home, not many sides have
thrashed them 3-0 in a four-ODI series. It is a big achievement: from what they were mentally after the Test series defeat, and then to respond in that fashion made me feel proud," he said.
"I had to make it (the dressing room) a place where the boys wanted to enjoy themselves. I was very clear when I said I am doing this job because I believe in them. And that was enough. As I got talking to them one on one, things started falling in place," he added.
Shastri said he had plenty of one-on-one chats with the players during the ODI series, which India won 3-1. "I was not afraid to speak to a guy individually. Ground, bus, bar, dressing room, while eating - we were talking cricket.
Communication is important. The advantage I had was I had watched these boys a lot. I told them I have watched more cricket than I have played. I have learned more about cricket after I stopped playing," he said.