The rumbling over the selection of the new head coach for the India cricket team erupted into a major controversy on Wednesday with Sourav Ganguly telling Ravi Shastri he was “living in a fool’s paradise” if he thought the former was responsible for his not getting the job.
Shastri, team director until March, criticised former India skipper Ganguly for not being present when he made his presentation to the BCCI’s cricket advisory committee that made the final selection. His comments came after the board unveiled former great Anil Kumble as the new coach.
Speaking to Hindustan Times from Kolkata, Ganguly rebutted what he called Shastri’s “personal and professional” allegations, saying he was “very disappointed and hurt at Shastri’s conduct after being rejected as head coach”.
Shastri had in media comments said the absence of Ganguly, member of the cricket advisory committee (CAC) with Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, during his interview last week amounted to being “disrespectful towards me and the process”.
Ganguly, also the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president, told HT: “Probably Shastri isn’t aware of many realities. I had sought BCCI’s permission in advance and told them I had to leave the CAC meeting for an hour between 5 and 6pm due to the CAB working committee meeting. Also, Shastri’s interview was originally slotted at 4.15pm but when Kumble’s presentation went for long, I asked Laxman and Tendulkar and they asked me to go for the CAB meeting.”
“When I returned, I was told Shastri’s presentation had got over. So, where is the question of my being unprofessional and disrespectful?”
Ganguly criticised Shastri for not appearing in person, which other leading candidates, Kumble and Australian Tom Moody, did. The former India all-rounder made the presentation via video conference as he was holidaying in Bangkok.
“I also have an advice for him,” Ganguly said. “The next time he has to give an important interview or presentation, he better be there personally and not be holidaying in Bangkok. He has no right to talk big when he himself showed disrespect to the interview. He can check if I have ever missed any important meeting or commitment. I am more responsible than what he thinks.
“I don’t know which world he lives in. For 20 years, every BCCI committee has Shastri’s name on it, and if he thinks he lost his job due to me alone, then he is living in a fool’s paradise."
Hindustan Times has access to email exchanges between BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke’s office and the three CAC members. On the evening of June 20, a day before the presentations in Kolkata, Ganguly wrote to BCCI about the working committee meeting. The BCCI then rescheduled the run order but with Kumble’s presentation going on for double the allotted time of 45 minutes each, Ganguly left before Shastri was to begin.
“There were two Legends in the panel besides me and he can well check with the BCCI if the decision to go with Kumble was unanimous or not. He can go asking people what problem I have with him, but let me tell him I never had any issue with him. If he wants to create that in his mind, I can’t help,” Ganguly said.
“Ravi Shastri should understand that by talking like this, he is also mocking the BCCI and its working process. He was associated with the BCCI as a coach for 18 months.”