Mumbai, April 6: The Sharad Pawar-headed Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has, in a truly dramatic move, offered the interim coach’s job to former captain Ravi Shastri.
The designation, though, could be that of cricket manager.
Confirmation came from the straight-talking Shastri, even though BCCI mandarins kept insisting no decision had been taken on who should succeed Greg Chappell --- be it only for next month’s tour of Bangladesh or more permanently.
The May 10-29 tour involves two Tests and three ODIs.
“I’ve requested the BCCI to wait for at least 24 hours. I’ve got contractual obligations with ESPN and I’m obliged to first have a word with them,” Shastri told The Telegraph minutes before boarding a Jet Airways flight to Singapore.
A member of the 1983 World Cup-winning squad, Shastri is busy with current edition-related work there.
The offer came on a day when Team India’s awful World Cup performance was reviewed by the office-bearers and special invitees (former presidents Inderjit Singh Bindra and Raj Singh Dungarpur). Also, by seven former captains, including Shastri.
Among the office-bearers, vice-president (North) Lalit Modi alone was absent.
Asked if he would consider a regular contract, Shastri said: “At this moment, I’m just thinking about Bangladesh. You must appreciate I can’t say more.…”
His tone, by the way, was pretty enthusiastic.
Respected for being astute, Shastri would have made a terrific captain, but only got the job in one Test (India won) and a few ODIs --- all in a stand-in capacity.
Given that he played first-class cricket till 1994, Shastri is seen to have a “contemporary” mind and it won't surprise if the BCCI invites him to come on board 24x7.
That the 44-year-old is the no-nonsense sort suggests that the BCCI wants to rein in the players, particularly a few seniors.
Chappell hasn’t been asked to reconsider not wanting an extension once his contract ends on April 29, but the BCCI has sent a clear message by turning to Shastri.
However, Chappell has been asked by Pawar to continue his 23-month association with Indian cricket, possibly as a consultant focusing on emerging cricketers.
Apparently, he has sought time to make up his mind. The Chappells were to leave for Australia tonight itself, but have deferred their departure owing to “fatigue”.
According to well-placed sources, Chappell made a “very impressive” 90-minute audio-visual presentation listing why Team India did “so badly” in the World Cup and why it ought not to have crashed out in the first round.
Chappell didn’t blame individuals, but spoke at length about the areas where the system needs to be strengthened. A BCCI communication stated that the coach accepted he was “partly responsible” for the debacle.
If only Chappell had helped the Rahul Dravids play as impressively as his presentation.
Contrary to speculation in different quarters, manager Sanjay Jagdale didn’t recommend disciplinary action against any player. His report was largely general in nature but he favoured giving more opportunities to youngsters.
Incidentally, during the course of the review, somebody with influence suggested that the BCCI bring back New Zealander John Wright, who’d been coach from November 2000 to April 2005.
Some, of course, feel the BCCI should “tap” Dav Whatmore, who is currently with Bangladesh. A detailed debate is bound to take place --- unless Shastri accepts the offer --- during tomorrow’s working committee meeting.
Dravid, meanwhile, interacted with the mandarins after Chappell and Jagdale and “accepted” responsibility on behalf of his team. Indications are that he will keep the captaincy.
Kapil’s contract tips
In what is seen as very significant, former captain Kapil Dev has suggested that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ensure no player has performance-driven endorsement contracts.
“It’s a suggestion that’s going to be debated by the working committee. The BCCI has to put its foot down if players have contracts which, for example, state that a century will fetch a bonus. Cricket is a team sport and individual performances must not be encouraged,” Kapil told The Telegraph.
Besides, Kapil and the six other former captains who attended today’s review, have called for a limit on the number of endorsements.
The suggestion should encourage team spirit as, often, the ones who aren’t wooed by private sponsors begin to harbour somewhat of a grudge against those in demand.