Advantage Ravi Shastri in race for India cricket team coach
Under Ravi Shastri, the India team is not just a good side but also intimidates opponents. India may not have won the World Cup but it has the potential to win against any top team in a bilateral series.Updated: Aug 16, 2019 08:17 IST
It will be very difficult to ignore Ravi Shastri’s credentials for the three-member Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), headed by Kapil Dev when they get down to selecting the India head coach for the period starting September 5 till November 24, 2021. In fact, had the BCCI gone by logic, they could have avoided going through the laborious exercise of calling for a selection process, and instead just given an extension to Shastri once he decided to throw his hat in the ring.
As coach, there can’t be a more impressive CV than Shastri’s. During his tenure, India won a Test series in Australia and topped the round-robin league at the World Cup where they lost to New Zealand in the semi-finals. As far as results are concerned — in all three formats — the current coaching staff can’t be faulted. Under Shastri, the India team is not just a good side but also intimidates opponents. India may not have won the World Cup but it has the potential to win against any top team in a bilateral series. India are No 1 in the ICC Test rankings and No 2 in the ODI rankings.
Yet, there are a couple of points which Shastri may be called upon to explain by the committee, comprising Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy. First is India’s inability to settle on a solid No 4 for the World Cup despite a long experimentation process that involved chopping and changing several players. Second could be the team selection on Test tours of South Africa and England.
The bowlers did a fantastic job on both tours but India always looked a batsman short, ultimately costing them both series. The coach-selection committee may also be interested in hearing out Shastri’s plans for the World Twenty20 in Australia next year. Fourth in the T20I rankings, India are still in the process of finding their best combination.
Shastri is seeking his fourth stint with the team. His current term, as head coach, started in July 2017, and in 21 Tests since then (which includes three tough overseas series), India have won 13. In T20Is India have won 25 out of 36 matches while in ODIs, it’s 43 out of 60. Shastri first came on board in 2007 as cricket manager for the tour of Bangladesh when Greg Chappell was sacked after India’s group stage exit in the World Cup. He was appointed director of cricket in the wake of the 3-1 Test series loss in England in 2014 when Duncan Fletcher was head coach. Shastri continued till the 2016 World Twenty20 where India lost to West Indies in the semi-final. He shares a good understanding with the team, especially with captain Virat Kohli. And even though the BCCI has said the captain’s views won’t be sought by the selection committee, Kohli anyway backed Shastri’s candidature in a press conference before leaving for the West Indies.
Apart from Shastri, the other big names shortlisted include former Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody and former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson. India’s 2007 World T20 Cup-winning cricket manager Lalchand Rajput, former Mumbai Indians head coach Robin Singh and former West Indies and Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons are the other candidates in fray.
It is understood that Moody had given the best presentation among the candidates in 2017. He knows the Indian boys well from his long experience of coaching in the IPL, for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab. He had won the 2016 IPL with the Hyderabad outfit.
Hesson has similar credentials. He has been the coach of New Zealand for close to six years, from 2012 to 2018. Under him, New Zealand reached the World Cup final for the first time in 2015. He also had a stint in the IPL as coach of Kings XI Punjab in 2019. Rajput had done exceptionally well in the stop-gap role of cricket manager in 2007-08, winning the inaugural 2007 World T20 Cup and the triangular one-day series in Australia.
Simmons had guided West Indies to the 2018 World Twenty20 title. Shastri is in the West Indies and will appear for the interview on Skype. The batting and bowling coach selection will be done by the senior selection committee headed by MSK Prasad, on August 19.