Thirteen months after the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s advisory committee, headed by Sourav Ganguly, folded to the demands of captain Virat Kohli and appointed Ravi Shastri to replace their original choice Anil Kumble as head coach, the daggers are finally out.
A day after India lost their second successive overseas Test series this year, Ganguly and his former teammate Virender Sehwag, who was one of the candidates for the job, have lashed out at the Indian team management, Shastri in particular.
India conceded the five-Test series after losing the four match in Southampton by 60 runs on Sunday to give England a 3-1 lead. India have not won a Test series in England since 2007 and this was also their fifth loss in the last seven overseas Tests.
India’s series defeat in England comes just over a month after Shastri had said that this team has the “potential to be one of the best travelling teams” in the world. This was enough fodder for Sehwag to bring out his dagger on live television, during his role as a cricket expert for a news channel.
“The best travelling teams are made by performances on the ground and not by sitting in the dressing room and talking about it,” Sehwag told India TV after the Southampton Test. “You can talk big however much you want but unless the bat does the talking, and the ball does the talking, you cannot have a good travelling team.”
Ganguly, who was also an expert on the same channel, was then asked by the anchor as to why Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan did not assume the roles of batting and bowling consultants respectively to aid Shastri, like the BCCI had announced in July last year.
The former India captain said he wasn’t sure why this was the case, but added that Shastri should be held accountable regardless. “I don’t know why it did not happen because it wasn’t our responsibility,” Ganguly replied. “Rahul Dravid had been asked to become a batting consultant and he had even agreed. But then he spoke to Ravi and I don’t know what happened after that.”
Ganguly added, “The Committee of Administrators also then interfered with the coach selection and we just got out of it. So it’s difficult for me to say why Rahul Dravid did not become the batting consultant. But if Ravi Shastri was given the responsibility, after consulting Virat Kohli, then he has to fulfil that responsibility and improve the team.”
Ganguly believes the batting ability of Indian players, apart from Kohli, has taken a hit. “When Virat Kohli is at the crease it seems that he is playing against totally different bowlers compared to when the other batsmen are batting,” Ganguly said.
“Agreed that the Southampton Test was a close contest, but after Kohli got out the commentators started saying that India will lose the match. That is what happened and this has been happening for quite some time now, match after match, innings after innings. Just taking 20 wickets won’t win you matches, you have to score runs as well.”
Sehwag added that India have barely made any progress in terms of overseas performances since the days of Ganguly as captain. “We already learnt the art of winning single Test matches under Sourav Ganguly but we also couldn’t win a series overseas, so the problems are still the same,” the former opening batsman said. “The difference was that our batsmen used to score runs but we didn’t have the bowling to take 20 wickets. Nowadays we have the bowling to take 20 wickets but the batsmen aren’t scoring runs.”
While Kohli did admit after the Southampton Test that the Indian team has to learn the art of crossing the finish line in pressure situations, Sehwag said this has been the case for a while. “We haven’t been able to score more than 300 in an innings in the last few Tests, except maybe once or twice,” he said. “It is very easy to say that ‘we are trying’, ‘we are not able to cross the line’ or ‘we will try in the next series’ but we have been repeating these statements for a decade now and we still haven’t won a series in Australia, England and South Africa in this period.”
You can watch the entire debate here.