The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ĎI didnít call Graham Ford on Rahul Dravidís behalfí
- Former captain and interim coach Shastri opens up

Calcutta: Former India captain Ravi Shastri was in the pool at the Taj Connemara when The Telegraph caught up with him in Chennai on Sunday morning. One of the seven members of the BCCIís special committee, he took questions specific to South African Graham Fordís appointment as the Team India coach. As usual, Shastri was candid.

The following are excerpts


On whether heís relieved that the coach has finally been selected

Not relieved... The process was about picking the right man and the committee made its decision unanimously... It may have taken a bit of time, but we had to do the job well. Good luck to Graham.

On being the one to call Ford and ascertaining his availability

I did make that call, yes... Being on the committee, I had to look around as to who was available... Look at the track record of the ones available... I was looking for somebody connected with the sport, somebody hands-on... Somebody successful... Frankly, there werenít many around... In ODIs, for example, Graham has the best record after John Buchanan.

On whether he made that call at captain Rahul Dravidís behest

I didnít call Graham on Rahulís behalf... I did so as a member of the committee empowered to select the coach... I made the call on my own behalf... Rahul is old enough to pick up the phone and do the talking himself. Iím just as capable.

On the qualities he was looking for

A good track record... Good man management... The ability to carry the dressing room with him... Whatever the level, one would look for these qualities in any coach.

On Fordís presentation before the committee late on Saturday

He was good... (After a pause) So was John Emburey...

On what clinched it for Ford

The committee felt heís more hands-on... Has a good track record and has worked with some of the big players of the time...

On the questions lobbed at Ford

Thatís something which happened in the Ďdressing roomí and should remain there. Letís just say Graham passed the test.

On whether it was awkward having to Ďdropí Emburey, somebody heíd played against

Itís part of the game... Look, both knew only one would become the Team India coach. They arenít kids and, clearly, one canít have two coaches.

On the home work he did on Ford

I spoke to some people in South Africa... I wouldnít like to publicise their names...

On whether Team India needed a low profile coach

Look, the profile is important... Whatís more important is the coachís track record... His man management skills... Ford comes with the experience of around 15 years of coaching... Thatís not easily sold or bought in the market.

On the Greg Chappell era

Please, I donít wish to comment on whatís past.

On one-time frontrunner Dav Whatmore not even being called for the presentation

Iíll only say weíve picked the most appropriate coach. Thatís it.

On Fordís biggest challenge

Being new, he has to first know the players... That would be the top challenge for any new coach... After that, he has to identify the areas he needs to work on and forge a harmonious partnership with the other support staff.

On the time Ford may require to settle down

Give him five-six months... Iím not going to expect immediate results.

On whether a longer contract would have been better

But thereís the option of a two-year extension after the first year... Itís fair on Graham, too... Even he can assess things after 12 months. The duration isnít an issue and donít forget one year is a long time.

On whether, having been the interim coach, he intends briefing Ford

Heís experienced enough and I donít need to give tips... If he does wish to talk, then Iíll answer his queries.

On whether, at any time, he was tempted to continue beyond Bangladesh

Never. I was clear about it. So was the BCCI.

On the BCCI deciding to extend the contracts of specialist coaches Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh

Itís an excellent move... Theyíll be working with Graham for a year, at least.

On speculation that we could also have a batting coach

I donít wish to comment on speculation. One can, of course, always get somebody who is familiar with conditions in a particular country.

On whispers that differences cropped up between him and fellow-committee member Sunil Gavaskar

People can talk and write what they want, but Sunny and I have known each other for years. Thatís the bottomline.

Finally, on his plans for the immediate future

(Laughs) To know that, friend, watch ESPN more regularly!

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