In classic Board of Control for Cricket in India fashion, two integral members of the coaching staff — Venkatesh Prasad (bowling coach) and Robin Singh (fielding coach) were sacked with immediate effect on Thursday afternoon.
The Board did not offer any reasons for the sacking, and typically, did not even inform its two employees directly that they had been sacked.
With the seven-match ODI series against Australia starting just 10 days later on October 25, the Board’s sudden move is baffling, to say the least.
“The decision was taken by office bearers of the Board on Wednesday and then put forth to the president and secretary, who ratified it,” a senior Board official explained to the Hindustan Times.
He also confirmed that neither captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni nor coach Gary Kirsten were consulted in the matter. “The decision was taken based on the team’s disappointing performance in the Twenty20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy.”
Another source revealed that sections of the Board were irked by the fact that Robin and Prasad had continued involvement with IPL teams, and this was a practice they wanted to discourage.
Another sticking point was their demands that they be given contracts and a pay structure in line with Kirsten’s.
The official added that the Board planned to fill the vacancies in due course, but possibly not before the Australia series had ended.
In the past, the Board has often preferred to handpick and appoint candidates rather than seek applicants and conduct an interview process.
Shockingly, both Prasad and Robin never received written contracts from the Board, despite asking for them repeatedly since they were appointed in 2007.
The two were on retainers and were appointed often on a series-by-series basis. In the period between 2007 and Kirsten’s appointment in March 2008, they served alongside a series of ‘cricket managers’ including Ravi Shastri, Chandu Borde and Lalchand Rajput when India won a Test series in England, the World T20 in South Africa, the Perth Test and its first-ever triangular series ever on Australian soil.
It’s particularly galling that the Board handled two of its former cricketers (between them, Prasad and Robin represented India 331 times) in such a shoddy manner, not even granting them the courtesy of a phone call explaining why they had been sacked.
“I am deeply disappointed and hurt by the way in which it has been handled,” Prasad told HT. “All I can say, with a clear conscience, was that I gave it my hundred per cent, and I wasn’t short on either commitment or effort.”
“We must realise that we can’t keep winning all the time,” Prasad added. “We can’t keep blaming the bowlers and the fielders for every debacle. Cricket is a team game, and it is important to recognise and appreciate that fact.”
At the end of the day the Indian team will be minus two coaches when they take on the world’s best team in 10 days’ time.