Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has a few words of advice for England and Wales Cricket Board’s newest appointment, Robert Key who will take on the role of the board’s Managing Director of Cricket. According to Shastri, Key will need to develop a “thick skin” similar to the Dukes ball, much like he did in order to fulfil his responsibilities in the new role.
Key, who will leave his Sky Sports punditry job to take up the position, enters at a time when England is looking for a new Test captain after Joe Root’s decision to stand down and a permanent head coach. Apart from their similar backgrounds in cricket broadcasting, they also do not have coaching qualification per se.
“I didn’t have coaching badges [either]. Level one? Level two? F**k that. And in a country like India, there is always jealousy or a gang of people willing you to fail. I had a thick skin, thicker than the leather of the Dukes ball you use. A real solid hide. And you need a bloody hide over here,” said Shastri in an interview with The Guardian.
“Rob will develop this as he does the job, because every day you are judged. And I am glad he has a lot of captaincy experience from his time at Kent, because communication with the players is absolutely paramount.”
“There’s no doubt about that in my mind. It’s all about their mindset.”
Additionally, Shastri believes that national cricket teams all around the globe operate in a similar manner, based on his personal experience with the Indian squad and highlighted the need to separate their experience as commentators, the importance of getting among the players and setting a distinct vision and culture for the team and spoke about his vision with the Indian team during his coaching stint.
“The most important thing is getting among the players and setting a tone from the outset: what you believe in, what you think of them and changing the mindset to compete and win.
“You have to be bullish and brutish in wanting to achieve that,” he said.
“Leave everything you said as a commentator behind. Park it. When I was the director of the team, it was about diagnosing problems: I was asked to hire and fire, whoever I wanted I could get in and whoever I didn’t could be shown the door.”
Establishing the mindset and team culture is critical for Shastri and he stated that it was exactly what he did when India overcame Australia in two consecutive away series.
“And it was also outlining how we want to play: to be aggressive and ruthless, to up the fitness levels, to get a group of fast bowlers to take 20 wickets overseas. And it was about attitude, especially when playing the Aussies. I told the boys if one single ‘f**k you’ comes your way, give them three back: two in our language and one in theirs.”