Monday, 30th October 2017

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Pitch clear for Ravi Shastri 2.0

Incumbent head coach holds edge ahead of Friday’s interviews, eye on Bangar

By Indranil Majumdar in Calcutta
  • Published 15.08.19, 3:16 AM
  • Updated 15.08.19, 3:16 AM
  • 3 mins read
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It is almost a given that Ravi Shastri will retain his position of head coach when the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) meets in Mumbai on Friday, unless something dramatic unfolds. AP

Ravi Shastri’s significant contribution to Team India’s success story over the last two years has made it an almost one-horse race in the contest for cricket’s top coaching job.

It is almost a given that Shastri will retain his position of head coach when the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) meets in Mumbai on Friday, unless something dramatic unfolds.

Former captain Kapil Dev heads the CAC, which also includes former Test opener Anshuman Gaekwad and former skipper Shantha Rangaswamy.

The absence of a heavyweight candidate — Tom Moody, Mike Hesson, Phil Simmons, Lalchand Rajput and Robin Singh are the others in the fray — has made the CAC’s task easier.

Hesson is expected to be present in Mumbai for the interview, along with Rajput and Robin, team manager and fielding coach, respectively, during India’s successful 2007 World T20 campaign. Moody and Simmons, besides Shastri, are likely to join the committee members over Skype.

Moody had also applied for head coach in 2017 when the CAC comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman had conducted the interviews. Their excellent presentations notwithstanding, Virender Sehwag and Moody were overlooked because captain Virat Kohli had made his choice clear.

In spite of taking India to the No. 1 position in Tests and winning a series Down Under, Shastri has failed to win any ICC tournament — India lost in the semi-finals of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup besides the 2016 World T20. That will remain a blot on his CV but the way he has moulded a bunch of talented youngsters into world-class cricketers will be seen in his favour.

“No one realises it better than Ravi himself. He knows that he has to take that next leap to convert them into world-beaters. It’s a continuing process,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph.

“True, Ravi has made mistakes, but he also played a big role in India’s consistent success. Even during the World Cup, India were brilliant right through. It was just one bad day and luck that cost them the semi-final.

“Frankly, there are no suitable candidates. The foreigners have no real knowledge of India’s culture and diversity. We don’t want a repeat of the Greg Chappell era. There’s a lot of difference between coaching an IPL franchise and the national team,” explained the source.

The CAC, the source stressed, understands the importance of man management. The Indian captain has already made his choice public before leaving for the West Indies and no one wants to disturb the dressing room atmosphere.

“With Ravi bhai, all of us have a great camaraderie,everyone in the team shares mutual respect... And we have done really well together as a group,” Kohli had said. “Yeah, we will definitely be very happy if he is continuing as coach.”

While Moody had coached Sri Lanka to the World Cup final in 2007, Hesson also played a role in making New Zealand reach the World Cup final in 2015.

Simmons, who is seen as a late entrant, was the head coach of Afghanistan till July. A former West Indies opener, he had helped them win their second World T20 title in 2016.

While the CAC will decide on the head coach, it’s not clear when the senior men’s selection committee led by chairman MSK Prasad will decide on the support staff.

Shastri and the rest of his support staff — Sanjay Bangar (batting coach), Bharat Arun (bowling coach) and R. Sridhar (fielding coach) — have been automatic entrants into the process. All of them are on an extended 45-day contract till the end of the two-Test series in the Caribbean.

Arun and Sridhar — despite Jonty Rhodes’s presence — are set to retain their

positions following excellent performance by the players but the same cannot be said about Bangar. There’s talk that he has done little to solve the middle-order muddle and the constant chopping and changing has damaged the team immensely. India’s failure to find a solid No. 4 batsman hurt the team’s cause in the World Cup.

“Bangar has done little besides giving throwdowns to the batsmen. He should have done a better job,” said someone in the know of things.

Vikram Rathour and Praveen Amre are being seen as likely replacements with the former appearing to be the frontrunner. Amre, who is currently working as a batting advisor to USA cricket, has in the past coached Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Shreyas Iyer with distinction.

Bangar, it is learnt, has been lobbying hard for his extension in influential quarters and surprises can’t be ruled out in such a scenario.