“I love challenges, so bring it on.” Ravi Shastri, the newly appointed Indian team coach, told in an interview on Wednesday.
The Indian cricketing fraternity is divided as Shastri is reappointed as team India’s boss. One part is very happy and hopeful that he will bring new laurels in the cricketing field for the country. The other part still bemoans the exit of Anil Kumble and doubts Shastri’s ability to become the coach of the National team. Now the most relevant question is: Will Shastri be the soothing balm after the heartburn in the Kohli-Kumble saga? Or is his appointment bereft of sound cricketing logic, one that will only put the team on a downward slide?
On paper, Ravi Shastri’s appointment as Head Coach appears to be a manifestation of skipper Kohli’s final word on the matter. Shastri may have had a “positive impact” on the side in the capacity of Team Director back in the day; but, mere motivational skills don’t qualify him for this challenging task.
There is one school of thought that genuinely believes Shastri is the sort of figure who will work in perfect sync with a superstar like Virat Kohli and take the team forward. With a string of major away series coming up, another setback like the Kohli-Kumble saga could well push Indian cricket back by years. In Shastri, Kohli will find a confidante who will boost him to greater heights.
But at the same time, somebody is raising a very apt question. If he really needed extra support in the form of an overseas batting consultant in Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan as the bowling consultant, where does Shastri’s expertise come in? And with the presence of a much-revered batting coach Sanjay Bangar as well as a fielding coach in R Sridhar, what’s left for the former allrounder to take up as his and his duty alone?
And on Thursday, it was learnt that Shastri wants Bharat Arun back as the assistant bowling coach and he wants Zaheer Khan only as a consultant. There is a strong hint that Shastri’s new tenure may not be as smooth as it expected to be.
It is quite true that Shastri knows the current Indian team very well as he used to be the Team Director one year back. During his tenure as Team Director, Shastri worked with a majority of the players in the current squad. It came as no surprise that many players hailed Shastri’s impact on the young team.
But will he be given full freedom to run the team?
The appointment of Dravid and Zaheer don’t indicate so. CAC member Sourav Ganguly had stressed on the need for Kohli and the new coach to be on the same page and for the captain to understand how the coach is going to work, but aren’t India running the risk of another fallout, with several views and opinions expected to be voiced within the dressing room?
One of the finest moves made by Kumble right at the beginning of his time as head coach was stressing on the importance of fitness. Players had to prove their fitness by playing domestic matches while making a comeback. But will Shastri be as rigid as Kumble in terms of fitness?
The transition needs to be smooth and an extension of consolidation on what was built. Is Shastri capable of that? Kohli’s fascination about Shastri is also under the scanner.
After all, how can we forget that it was Sourav Ganguly that batted for Greg Chappell, little knowing how it would impact his own career…