It’s just getting started. The departure of head coach Anil Kumble has probably opened that proverbial can of worms for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and seemingly all-powerful Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), but it has brought the Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri partnership to the fore. It’s an open secret that there exists such a bonhomie between two of the most outspoken individuals in Indian cricket.
And Shastri on last Monday made it clear that he is going to apply for the post of the head coach of the Indian team. “Yes, I have decided to apply for the job,” he was quoted saying by some newspapers in India.
Earlier in between April and June 2016, there was a cold war in between former popular Indian cricketers. Though many legendaries like Ravi Shastri had applied, the position was granted to the former ace bowler Anil Kumble. This time, the story is different, as multiple names like Virender Sehwag and Shastri are on the table. Despite the various concerns, Shastri is now the team’s favor as he already ensembles good company with skipper Kohli.
Coming to the interactions and the bonding Shastri shares with players, he is quite good at that. It is already believed that Shastri shares a cordial relationship with Kohli and other members of the team. It is also reported that, prior to Kumble’s appointment, Kohli had recommended Shastri to take over as head coach to the Cricket Advisory Committee comprising of Kumble’s long-time Indian teammates Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, and VVS Laxman, respectively.
Shastri himself stated that he is going to apply for the post only if he is definitely granted with the position. Now that he applied for the post, it is believed that he will be the coach for the Indian team for sure.
Shastri took charge of the team over from Duncan Fletcher, but as the team director and not head coach. His term ended after India’s semi-final exit in the ICC World T20 2016, following which he officially applied for the post of the head coach. Shastri was said to have enjoyed the support of Kohli during his tenure. The CAC though, chose Kumble over Shastri for the position of the coach last year, which led to verbal alterations between Shastri and Ganguly.
With the BCCI looking for a replacement for Kumble before the senior team heads to Sri Lanka in late July, the name of former team director Ravi Shastri is currently doing the rounds as a possible candidate for the said role, which only means that Virender Sehwag, who have applied for the post, will not have a go.
Now the question is, why Shastri is so much popular among the players of the National team?
Coming to the work experience of Shastri, he was director of the Indian cricket team between 2014 and 2016 in which he led the team to the semi-final of the 2015 World Cup and 2015 T20I World Cup. But most importantly, Shastri believes in giving space to the cricketers. He is not a hard task master like Kumble. Shastri’s philosophy is simple: matured cricketers need more a mentor than a coach. So he doesn’t emphasise on work ethics. Rather he gives the cricketers ample liberty. Some people, who are closely associated with the Indian team, said that Kohli and his boys have a special affection for Shastri because they get plenty of support in whatever they do, much unlike Kumble who even didn’t hesitate to scold the cricketers in the dressing room after the team’s collapse against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final.
They don’t want a headmaster like Kumble. What Kohli and most of his boys look for is a coach who will wear a friend-like-attitude towards the team.
Shastri previously stated that he will apply for the post of the coach only if he is given an assurance that he will be selected for the job. And it is believed that he managed to get that assurance.
The final say on Shastri’s appointment though rests with the BCCI-appointed Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) , which is also looking through the applications of former India batsman Virender Sehwag, Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody, former India manager Lalchand Rajput among others. But with skipper Virat Kohli’s casting vote in his pocket, Shastri has come up as a clear favorite.