He came, he saw and he conquered!
A 304-run victory in an away Test match to start off his tenure as a head-coach of the Indian cricket team — just what the doctor ordered for Ravi Shastri.
It is all about the charisma of the man, isn’t it?
Before taking up this prestigious and glamorous role, Shastri didn’t have any previous credential of working as a coach. Apart from a few prior stints as a ‘Team Director’ of the national side, he didn’t even coach a club team, neither he had any formal qualification.
However, strangely, when it came to the judgement day, Shastri outscored all his heavyweight competitors. Our cricket administrators found him as the best person on the planet to take the Indian team forward, at least for the next two years.
And of course, it is needless to say that there wasn’t any third-party influence behind this selection.
Nevertheless, the man is back in the dressing room, with a bang.
The players just love Shastri as he does not have an “overbearing attitude”, like Anil Kumble, the previous coach, under whom Virat Kohli and his boys had to spend a traumatic one year.
After coming back, Shastri’s first and foremost task was to change the atmosphere of the dressing room, which was in a poor state under Kumble during the last season, where they lost just one of 17 Test matches.
At Galle, the new Santa Claus of the team allowed these boys to have a great mental space.
And the result is right in front of everyone.
That is the charm of Shastri for you!
“My role is to be in charge of the entire support staff, and to make sure that we get the boys in some great mental space to go out and express themselves with nothing else on their minds, but to go out and play a brand of cricket which you have seen India play over the last three years: positive and fearless,” in a recent press conference, he himself described his role in the team.
Meanwhile, in a counter question, when a senior journalist asked him, how exactly he does that, Shastri hit back, “That is a skill, that is why I am here and you are not there.”
Probably, the scribe did not do his homework on him. You just cannot question Shastri’s methods. He has some kind of spiritual superpower, by which he can inject a divine energy in the dressing room. After all, the BCCI is paying him more than 7 crores a year for this particular ‘skill’, right?
Like Shastri, the previous coach Kumble too didn’t have much experience as a coach at the beginning, but in the one year he spent in the with the team, he came across as somebody actively involved in working with bowlers in the nets, passing on some tips to batsmen, playing a role in strategising and also keeping a close eye on the supply line.
However, Shastri doesn’t believe in such old-fashioned methods.
“I don’t think, at this level coaching is needed. At this level, it is all about fine-tuning and getting the blokes in a good mental space to go out and play the game. They know they have reached here because they are good. At times, you might need to just fine-tune them a bit because the amount of cricket that’s being played you might just get into the odd bad habit without you realising it. That’s where the experience of having played, probably having watched you can pick it up and pass on the message.”
Well, probably that’s why Shastri does not waste his energy by giving throwdowns. He has a specialist in the form of Raghavendra to do this job. Shastri does not want to work on the pros and cons of batsmen’s techniques. He has Sanjay Bangar to look after this aspect. Even, for the help of bowlers, there is Bharat Arun and R Sridhar takes care of the fielding department.
Shastri just wants to put his entire focus to keep the players in good humour. Well, critics might argue, but this is the most important aspect of modern day cricket as at times cricketers might feel that playing for the country is not enough motivation for them and they need a cheerleader to boost their morale.
Don’t worry, Indian cricket is in good hands right now.