As Indian Team remains stranded in England with no tickets available for them to fly back to India after the disheartening defeat against New Zealand in the Semifinals, the speculations over a major overhaul in the team management are doing the rounds. While bowling Coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar have done well in their respective departments, batting coach and official assistant coach Sanjay Bangar and more importantly head coach Ravi Shashtri might have to prove their instrumentality.
The coaching team led by Ravi Shastri, had all asked for an extension of their contracts till the next ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Australia. However, on 13th June the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators had granted them an extension only until the next month’s tour of West Indies along with which BCCI will initiate the process to appoint new coaches. As the contracts stand to be terminated soon, the existing coaching staff will have to compete with fresh applicants for the prestigious and important coaching positions. However, had India had won the World cup it was likely that the coaching staff would have continued until the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia.
Ravi Shastri who was appointed as the head coach in 2017 by a three-member BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), comprising Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, did not address the media a single time throughout the tournament. While the team steered through the tournament heavily dependent on the top order and the bowling attack, the deficiencies in the middle order were clearly evident and the management fell short of streamlining that critical issue which ultimately cost India in the crucial knockout match.
Taking over the top position from Anil Kumble after the latter was forced to step down owing to his rift with Kohli in 2017, Ravi Shastri had been inefficient in plugging the holes in Indian batting order which have proved a roadblock in several critical pressure situations and cost India several important tournaments. Many observers have also pointed out that Shastri has proved to be nothing more than a mere ‘Yes Man’ to Captain Kohli.
The decision to send out Dhoni at No. 7 in the semi final against New Zealand had also raised questions on the effectiveness of technical decisions under Ravi Shashtri.
In fact, during the semifinal match, a video had also surfaced Virat Kohli angrily confronting Ravi Shastri over the batting line-up.
However, Ravi Shastri had recently pointed out that the decision to put out Dhoni deeper in the innings was a team decision.
“It was a team decision. Everyone was in with it — and it was a simple decision, too. Last thing you wanted was Dhoni coming out to bat early and getting out — that would have killed the chase. We needed his experience later. He is the greatest finisher of all times — and it would have been criminal to not make use of him in that way. The whole team was clear on it,” Shastri had said in defense of the decision.
For the Indian Cricket team which has seen tremendous growth under coaches like former New Zealand skipper John Wright who along with Sourav Ganguly had freed the team of the rampant factionalism and contradictions of the 90s and laid a strong foundation for the team for decades to come. Under the guidance of legendary South African batsman Gary Kirsten, India lifted its second World cup and saw tremendous improvement in all departments of batting, bowling, and most importantly fielding. While under Ravi Shastri, despite individual player performances at optimum levels, little or no development was seen in overall team performance and it was evident in the knockout matches. A few batsmen who were struggling for runs also had to approach former batting stars ahead of the coaching team.
“Without taking names, it is well documented that a couple of current team members have spoken about how they approached some of the former India batsmen to help them erase flaws in their batting when they were having issues scoring runs,” reported IANS. While ex-players have always supported team members, this is surely an indication of the inefficiencies in team’s coaching culture and its failure to create a conducive environment for optimum team play.
However, it remains to be seen if CAC headed by Kapil Dev, which will be involved in the process of selecting the new coach, whether Ravi Shastri will get an extension or new face will take over the job. Ravi Shastri’s uninspiring leadership so far surely is not a good sign for his bid.