The Indian cricket Board seems to have been caught off-guard by the latest controversy to hit home. Skipper MS Dhoni’s blunt statement on Sunday that under-fire coach Duncan Fletcher was still the “boss” and will stay put until next year’s World Cup has left the governing body in an awkward situation.
The BCCI appointed former skipper Ravi Shastri as director of cricket and brought in home-bred coaches to put the current coaching regime on notice after the miserable showing in the Test series. It was also meant to convey a stern message to Dhoni and Co.
But Dhoni’s remarks at the media conference in Bristol, where he also said Shastri would observe things from outside, amounted to defying the new arrangement put in place by the BCCI. On Monday, senior Board officials didn’t send a stern message to the captain, but hinted enough that Dhoni and Fletcher could face the heat in near future while the episode also suggested some sort of a tussle within the country’s cricket set-up.
BCCI joint secretary, Anurag Thakur, seemed to acknowledge that Dhoni had crossed the line. “The team’s players and coach are picked by the selectors and BCCI respectively,” he told HT.
It was clear the Board had not taken kindly to the captain questioning its authority. However, the overall response was guarded, which could also be due to a lack of clarity on who really wields power in BCCI despite N Srinivasan being asked to step aside until the Supreme Court-ordered investigation into IPL corruption allegations ends.
Another official hinted that there could be some action. “All this talk of who is the boss, by the end of this tour and by the time the West Indies series happens, you’ll know who the real boss is,” he told HT. The home series against West Indies starts on October 8.
The Board secretary Sanjay Patel told a news agency that Dhoni’s comment was his ‘personal opinion’ while an unnamed BCCI office-bearer was quoted as saying the matter would be taken up in the next working committee meeting. The panel usually meets before the September AGM, but it remains to be seen whether that happens as the annual meeting itself could be pushed back until the IPL probe report is out.
“Dhoni is no one to comment who is the boss of the team. It’s not his domain,” the senior official said. “What happened is very disappointing and unbecoming of an India captain. The matter will come up for discussion at the next working committee meeting."
“He has overstepped his brief … Just like BCCI officials are not going to decide who is in the playing XI, Dhoni does not decide who is going to stay till what time.”