Ravi Shastri’s reappointment as head coach of the Indian team was not influenced by captain Virat Kohli’s public backing of the incumbent, Cricket Advisory Committee(CAC) chief Kapil Dev said on Friday.
Shastri was reappointed for a two-year period by the CAC, a decision that was expected. His term will again be up for review after the 2021 T20 World Cup in India.
“Not at all, because if we take his [Kohli’s] views we would have taken the entire team’s views too. We haven’t asked anyone. There was no scope for that,” said Kapil when asked if the skipper’s preference influenced the final decision.
Among all the candidates, Shastri’s record was unmatched as the team reached the No.1 ranking in Test matches under his guidance and won a series in Australia for the first time in 71 years.
On the flip side, India twice lost in the World Cup semi-finals (2015 and 2019) with him at the helm but that didn’t seem to have had a bearing on the decision taken by the committee that also comprised Shantha Rangaswamy and Anshuman Gaekwad.
Asked about the team’s semifinal exits in ICC competitions, Kapil said, “If any manager don’t win (a World Cup) with any team, they should be sacked? No, you look at overall picture and we are not looking at that, we are looking at what presentation he has given, we have gone by that.”
Since he came back in July, 2017 replacing Anil Kumble, whose differences with Kohli came out in the open, Shastri’s coaching record has been phenomenal.
India have won 13 out of 21 Tests, 43 out of 60 ODIs and 25 T20 Internationals out of 36 on his watch.
Going by what India’s first World Cup-winning skipper said, Shastri’s communication skills may have played a big part.
“All of them were excellent. Sometimes I felt Shastri had better communication skills, they may have felt differently but we didn’t discuss that, we have given the marks after listening to their presentations.
“We all three have learnt so much, knowing how much hard work they have put in their presentation,” Kapil said.
Shastri pipped former India teammates Robin Singh and Lalchand Rajput along with former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson and Australian Tom Moody to the post. Former West Indies and Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons pulled out of the race, citing personal reasons.
Asked about the advantage Shastri had over others, Gaekwad said, “Basically, being the current coach, knowing the boys well, knowing the problems well in the team and what needs to be done.
“I think he is well-versed with the entire system. If somebody knows the system, knows the players well and can communicate well, I think he has the advantage.”
Before leaving for the West Indies tour, Kohli, when asked if he would prefer Shastri at the helm again, the India captain responded in the positive.
“Well, the CAC has not contacted me on this. But all of us share a great camaraderie with Ravi Bhai and would definitely be very happy [to have him around], Kohli had said.
Shastri was the team director till June 2016 until India lost in the World T20 semi-finals before being appointed as head coach in 2017.
The ad-hoc body had earlier appointed WV Raman as the women’s team coach in December.
‘CAC must have say in support staff’
Asked if the CAC should also have an opinion in selecting the support staff, Kapil responded in the positive. “Yes, our opinion should be there. If you ask me, we have [sent] a recommendation to the Board about the selection process of the support staff as well. It is not right, if we are not doing that job also,” Kapil said.
It is still not clear on what basis the MSK Prasad-chaired selection committee has been entrusted with the duty of appointing Shastri’s colleagues. There are grey areas as far as rules are concerned in the new constitution.
“We told them that we would like to be part of the process that finalises on the appointment,” India’s first World Cup-winning skipper said. “I think the Board will release that letter to you [media] also.”
The interviews for the rest of the support staff will be held on August 19. The support staff comprising Sanjay Bangar [batting coach], Bharat Arun [bowling coach], R Sridhar [fielding coach] and administrative manager Sunil Subramanium were given a 45-day contract extension covering the ongoing tour of the West Indies.
They are automatic entrants into the selection process. On the support staff’s appointment process, Kapil, “There should not be a communication gap, their [selection committee’s] strength and our strength is the same for the team and we want to make sure that the team gets benefited.”
Former selector Vikram Rathour has applied for batting coach’s job along with Praveen Amre as well as England’s Jonathan Trott and Mark Ramprakash.
Bharat Arun is expected to be retained as bowling coach despite the likes of Venkatesh Prasad, Darren Gough and Sunil Joshi applying for the post. Fielding coach R Sridhar is in a direct competition with one of the game’s finest fielders, South Africa’s Jonty Rhodes?
As per the criteria for batting, bowling and fielding coach, the three personnel should have played at least 10 Tests or 25 ODIs and be less than 60 years of age.