In yet another controversial move on Saturday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to put the appointments of Zaheer Khan as a bowling consultant and Rahul Dravid as overseas Test batting consultant on hold. India’s next overseas tour is in Sri Lanka later this month and it is highly unlikely that the both Dravid and Zaheer will be in the Indian dressing room during the course of the tour.
In a media interaction in New Delhi, Vinod Rai, the chairman of the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has said that the names were mere recommendations that needed action from the CoA “in consultation with the head coach”.
It is the same CoA, which earlier hailed the ‘three-member Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) for its recommendations of support staffs for the Indian cricket team.
According to Rai, Ravi Shastri, India’s new head coach, is set to get his own support staff as that has been decided “in consultation with the head coach already”.
For Zaheer and Dravid, the BCCI, has set up a three-member panel to decide if Zaheer and Dravid are needed at all, and terms of engagement if they are. The committee, comprising acting BCCI president CK Khanna, secretary Amitabh Choudhary and CoA member Diana Edulji, will have a meeting with Shastri following his return from London, where he is holidaying right now.
An embarrassment for CAC
For CAC, which comprised of three legends of Indian cricket — Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman — the recent development of not having Zaheer and Dravid immediately on board just to pamper the captain and coach, has been quite embarrassing.
Remember, it is the same committee which selected Shastri as the new head-coach of the Indian cricket team till the 2019 World Cup and according to an e-mail written by the CAC on July 13 to CoA, the names of Zaheer and Dravid had been decided following a discussion with the new coach.
“We spoke to Mr.Shastri about getting Mr.Khan and Mr.Dravid on board in these capacities and he readily agreed to the idea of having them in the set up so that it would benefit the team and Indian cricket as a whole in time to come. It was only after getting Mr.Shastri’s consent that we also recommended the names of Mr.Khan and Mr.Dravid in their respective capacities,” says the letter, which expressed CAC’s “pain and disappoints” on some of the media reports, which literally accused the committee of foisting the support staffs on Shastri.
In reply to that letter, the BCCI expressed its ‘sincere gratitude’ to CAC for the recommendations.
However, on Saturday, the CoA had a meeting with some of the BCCI official and Rai, the head of the Supreme court appointed panel confirmed that BCCI is taking a complete U-turn.
“There is no such thing as a contract yet,” Rai said, when asked if the appointments of Zaheer and Dravid had been put on hold. “It is not an appointment. The recommendation has been made. And the CoA has to act on the recommendation. That recommendation will be acted upon in consultation with the head coach.”
To further justify the ignorance towards CAC’s recommendations, Rai went on to add that they needed to check if Dravid and Zaheer were in conflict of interest if given these roles.
“The fact of the matter is they [CAC] have made a recommendation. Before we put that recommendation into fact, we have to find out conflict-of-interest issues, their willingness issues, their availability issues. We have to do that,” he said.
When asked if the CAC hadn’t already spoken to the duo, Rai said, “They may have spoken; we haven’t. Rahul, I am sure, is engaged elsewhere. Zaheer is also engaged elsewhere. So, we have to ascertain their availability.”
Looks like the CoA is more concerned about the availabilities of Dravid and Zaheer than the persons themselves.
It is well-known in the Indian cricket fraternity that Shastri wants Bharat Arun as a bowling coach. Arun, a teammate of Shastri since his Under-19 days, was associated with the Indian team during Shastri’s previous tenure as a team director.
Under present circumstances, it seems Shastri is getting a free hand to choose his support stuff and it is a certainty that he wants persons like Arun, who is loyal to him, rather than someone like Dravid or Zaheer, who will not be ideal persons to dance to the tunes of the coach and the captain.