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Ravi Shastri and the support staff quandary: Is trouble brewing already?

Ravi Shastri will have to deal with two heavyweight consultants in Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan. The Indian cricket team head coach also wants his own coaching staff

cricket Updated: Jul 13, 2017 17:01 IST
Abhishek Paul
The Indian cricket team, especially skipper Virat Kohli, will have one too many experts in the dressing room. After Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid, head coach Ravi Shastri wants to select his own support staff
The Indian cricket team, especially skipper Virat Kohli, will have one too many experts in the dressing room. After Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid, head coach Ravi Shastri wants to select his own support staff(Hindustan Times/Santosh Harhare)

Two days is too little a time to make an impact. Not for Ravi Shastri, it seems.

His resurrection at the helm of Team India on Tuesday was seen as a validation of the support he enjoys from Virat Kohli, something which the BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) overlooked a year back. And a day later, the new head coach’s statements have given enough hints that he might not be on the same page as CAC regarding several other decisions.

The CAC, comprising Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, surprised all by naming Zaheer Khan as bowling consultant and Rahul Dravid as overseas batting consultant.

The duo’s role was announced after a meeting that was supposed to name only the head coach. Both did not even apply for the posts, with Dravid already being the India A and India Under 19 coach.

Arun as bowling coach?

If reports are to be believed then Ravi Shastri is looking to get the services of Bharath Arun as the bowling coach. The 54-year-old Arun had earlier been associated with Indian team. He replaced Joe Dawes in 2014 and was there with till 2016 when Shastri was dumped as the Team Director.

It would be interesting to see how the support staff would add up in near future. More importantly, whose instructions would the Indian cricketers follow ultimately.

Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid have been roped in as bowling and batting consultants, respectively, by the Cricket Advisory Committee. Have they been deliberately imposed on the Indian cricket team chief coach Ravi Shastri? (BCCI)

If Arun is indeed hired as the bowling coach and Zaheer Khan is there as the bowling consultant, India will have two experts in the department.

Sanjay Bangar is the batting coach while Rahul Dravid will accompany the team in important overseas tours, so again there are two experts in the same department. Add to this Shastri himself, and India’s support staff is almost half the entire squad!

On record, Ravi Shastri have been effusive in his praise of Dravid and Zaheer. “The BCCI can certainly bring in guys like Zaheer and Dravid as consultants from time to time. Their experience is invaluable,” he told The Times of India in an interview.

Support staff conundrum

However, Shastri hinted that Dravid and Zaheer is unlikely to have a full-time role and that he would like to have his own support staff.

“But as far as a full-time support is concerned, I will need to decide on it because it is me who will be working with them for next two years,” he said.

“There are a lot of tours coming up and if I’m responsible for working with this set-up 200 days a year, then it’s me who should be working on my reserves, no?”

So, is Shastri implying that he might not be comfortable with big names being imposed on his team?

The last time a top player (Kumble) was imposed on the Indian cricket team, the association ended bitterly as the coach thought his relation with the captain had become ‘untenable’.

This time two names have been imposed. One would only hope that the relationships to remain tenable, on this occasion.