I write this more in anger than thoughtful calmness. Without mincing words and getting right to the heart of the matter, I must say that Ravi Shastri has been rewarded for totally aligning himself with the cricket establishment of the country. This appointment, with a fancy-sounding designation of director of cricket and overriding powers for a limited tenure of five one-day internationals, is a bizarre act by an Indian Board which is responsible for bringing Indian Test cricket to such a sorry state.
And people like Shastri, adept at speaking the language that pleases their masters, are guilty of professing that their heart bleeds for the demise of the India Test team. Just a few gems from Shastri in the past should remind everyone what this former all-rounder stands for. He described Lalit Modi as the Moses of world cricket for creating the biggest T20 brand called IPL. Today, as Modi stands condemned in the eyes of the world, this accolade is reserved for N. Srinivasan, the man who is controlling the reins of Indian cricket in his iron fist.
In Shastri’s view, the Decision Review System is an evil that is to be shunned because the Indian Board believes so. For him, IPL was the greatest thing to have happened to Indian cricket and we were told its benefits will help India conquer the world. These benefits are so evident now that India can’t even last 50 overs in Test cricket. In the final embarrassment at the Oval, India lasted just nine overs more than the 20 they are so adept at playing.
I can go on and on, but suffice to say by making such sweeping changes after the horse has bolted, that too when the team will now be engaged in a format they are very good at, makes little sense.
The three men chosen as replacement support staff are going to reach England on the eve of the One-day series, starting on August 25. Will they first get acclimatised to the conditions or straightaway begin their mission to improve the team? A tough ask given the time they have at hand. By the time they get used to the surroundings, the tour will be over.
It is no one’s argument that India does not need overhauling, but that will require structural changes to be made and priorities to be set. In the Indian scheme of things, Test cricket is not the priority, so why make these sham changes?
The best thing for India to is to stop playing Tests outside the country and Srinivasan, heading the ICC, has the power to implement anything he wants! The rest of the world seems so enamoured by India’s money power, they too, like the Shastris of this world, speak only “his master’s language”.