Why the fuss over head coach?
Too much time and money being spent by BCCI over Ravi Shastri's position which will be unchanged no matter what his detractors feel
Is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators wasting time, money and playing with the emotions of Team India head coach aspirants? Yes, because it's no secret that Ravi Shastri will keep his job despite all talk about his position being shaky.
Sure, Shastri cannot boast of a World title in both forms of limited overs cricket (teams under him have lost two 50-50 World Cup semis and one T20 semi-final) and he will be challenged to have a win of that magnitude on his CV by the time next year's T20 World Cup in Australia ends. But he hasn't fared disastrously in Tests and the shorter forms either to be replaced. I don't remember a coach being axed after a semi-final finish at a World Cup, so why should cricket lovers believe that will happen in a tolerant cricket set-up like India's?
The call for Shastri's head is an alarmist view and that point of view has more to do with people having a problem with his so-called cockiness than the results he's delivered. The former India all-rounder has no great support in the media either. He couldn't care a rat's behind about what the members of the fourth estate think of him. His attitude towards those who perform a similar role to his ex-colleagues in the commentary box – dish out their opinion through columns – cannot be termed as pleasant.
At the post-Sydney Test press conference after India clinched the Border-Gavaskar series for the first time earlier this year, Shastri said: "Just one thing before I leave. I want to thank all my buddies from the Indian media. Without your support, I don't think we would have played as well as we have right through the last 12 months. Thank you very much." According to reports, Shastri's utterance brought about a chuckle from his captain Virat Kohli and while that may have been a moment to savour for the head coach, the fact is that he and Kohli couldn't have the last laugh at the recently-concluded World Cup which India were expected to win.
Last week's press conference in Mumbai before Kohli's disappointed bunch left for their West Indies tour didn't provide a surprise when Kohli dismissed talk about a rift between him and his limited overs deputy Rohit Sharma. But what raised a few eyebrows was the fact that he all but said that Shastri should be retained as head coach. Clearly, the India captain was playing down the wrong line and erred in his shot selection as it were because the process to appoint a head coach was in progress. Maybe, he could have dealt with the question about the coach appointment by saying, "Sorry, let's respect the process. In the meantime, Ravibhai continues to be a tremendous guiding force."
Another Board would have had a quiet word with the captain about expressing himself on the coach's post, but instead, a member of the CoA defended Kohli by bringing up "freedom of speech." So next time, an India cricketer expresses his opinion which goes against the grain of procedure and not politically correct, will he be let off with the freedom of speech argument?
Shastri and Kohli have ticked most boxes, so their alliance won't be disturbed. So should the position of bowling coach Bharat Arun. From all indications, he has been a big factor in the bowlers coming up with some sterling performances. Former left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi, who has applied for the bowling coach post, feels Team India need a spin bowling expert. While that is an interesting view, Shastri can assist the tweakers.
What happens to Sanjay Bangar, the assistant coach, who essentially handles batting issues? Reportedly, it was Bangar who played a role in Mahendra Singh Dhoni being sent in at No. 7 for the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand at Manchester where some pundits believed he was scratchy and that led to India's demise in the tournament. Was this a story planted by those who want to see Bangar out of his coaching job? It could well be. And as the low-profile Bangar told journalist Sanjjeev Samyal recently, "I am really flattered that people are looking at me from this angle because I am not the sole decision-making authority. Believe me, we assess and go through a lot of situations."
There is another view doing the rounds that Bangar has not helped in getting the middle order to contribute significantly. In response, Bangar's supporters will point to the fact that coaches don't score runs out there in the middle; players do.
Indian cricket is not on top of the world, but a World Cup semi-final loss has not led to chaos either. For their efforts across two years, the coaching staff members deserve to be persevered with and Kohli & Co need no reminding to continue their quest for excellence. By the way, India made a clean sweep of the three-match T20 Internationals series on Tuesday and those who want to be in Shastri's shoes may have to wait for another year or two.
mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to email@example.com
The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper
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