From Mike Hussey to Daniel Vettori, Ravi Shastri and even Rahul Dravid, a number of names have been publicly discussed for the post of India’s cricket coach.
Reports have suggested that Shastri is set to reapply for the team director’s job. Dravid’s name too has been backed for the vacant position by a number of former Indian players, including Azharuddin and Vinod Kambli.
As different as chalk and cheese, Shastri and Dravid are the two most qualified people for the post. In the few months he has been with the under-19 team, Dravid has had a remarkable influence on the players. He is not overbearing but at the same time Dravid ensured that players were enriched with stories from his experience that he shared with them after every training session.
Extremely hard working, Dravid was known to not leave out even the smallest detail while preparing for every match. The results showed when the U-19 team won everything on their way to the World Cup earlier this year where they finally lost to West Indies in the title clash. In a four month period, Dravid has a 13-1 win record going for him.
Shastri has given results as well. Two Test series wins against Sri Lanka and South Africa, reaching the World Cup semi-final and then the World Twenty20 semi-final, India have had a good run under the former all-rounder. Tending more to the mental aspect of playing, Shastri is a unique blend of a coach who can guide any youngster and a manager who cares about the comfort of the team off the field. From defending his players at disciplinary hearings to arranging an impromptu dinner, Shastri has always looked after the team’s best interests.
Players have even sworn by Shastri’s technical knowledge. Suresh Raina had acknowledged that his shot-making through cover and mid-off has improved after Shastri asked him to change his stance last year.
India is looking at a long season where they are scheduled to play 12 Tests at home after the tour of West Indies in July-August. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided not to appoint any team director for the easier Zimbabwe series but if long-term is what they are looking at, they have to appoint someone for at least three years till the 2019 World Cup in England.
Dravid brings with him a wealth of top-notch technical advice that could be put to good use while Shastri worked well with Virat Kohli after he was elevated as Test captain, post MS Dhoni’s retirement from the longer format. But to have Dravid as U-19 coach and Shastri as the senior team director is an arrangement that has reaped good results over the last one year. Indian cricket should be well served if the BCCI stick to that for a longer time.