Under Ravi Shastri, in 21 Tests since 2017, the Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team registered 13 wins; their ODI record is a much better 43 wins in 60 matches.
The Kapil Dev-led Cricket Advisory committee (CAC), which had been deputed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to select the new coach, has agreed to retain Ravi Shastri as the head coach of the Indian cricket team. Shastri has been given a two-year extension, till the World T20 in 2021.
Apart from Shastri, the committee saw presentations by former Australia all-rounder and Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody, former New Zealand and Kings XI Punjab coach Mike Hesson, India’s 2007 World T20 winning cricket manager Lalchand Rajput, and former Mumbai Indians head coach Robin Singh.
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The three-member committee, which included former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad and former Indian women’s team captain Shanta Rangaswamy, in addition to Dev, unanimously agreed to retain Shastri’s services. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Kapil Dev said about the candidates: “Tom Moody was No. 3, Hesson was No. 2. Ravi Shastri is No. 1.”
The contracts of Shastri and his support staff were meant to expire at the end of the 2019 World Cup, but they were given a 45-day extension keeping in mind the ongoing West Indies tour.
Before leaving for their tour of the West Indies, captain Virat Kohli had publicly expressed a desire to see Shastri continue as coach. Despite the glaring and obvious preference of the captain, Kapil Dev insisted Kohli’s opinion did not influence the CAC’s decision.
"Absolutely not," Dev said, when asked if the CAC had been in touch with Kohli before it made its pick. "If we had asked him, we would have had to ask the whole team their opinion too. We haven’t asked anyone. There was no scope for that.”
It is important to remember that when Shastri was appointed in July 2017, the CAC at the — comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxm — had consulted Kohli during the selection process.
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Shastri first joined the India setup as a team director in 2014. After Duncan Fletcher’s exit in 2015, he stayed on. He was briefly out of the set-up when Anil Kumble became head coach in June 2016, but returned at the helm after Kumble's resignation.
Since then, Shastri has overseen Test match wins in South Africa and England, and a maiden Test series win in Australia, in 2017-18. The team’s failure at the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup was expected to have a bearing on the committee’s decision, seeing as India were among the favourites for the tournament only to exit at the semi-final stage.
Asked about this, Dev said, “If any manager doesn’t win (a World Cup) with any team, they should be sacked? No, you look at the overall picture and we are not looking at that, we are looking at what presentation he has given, we have gone by that.”
Anshuman Gaekwad cited Shastri’s familiarity with the setup as one distinct advantage he held over the other candidates. “Basically, being the current coach, knowing the boys well, knowing the problems well in the team and what needs to be done. I think he is well-versed with the entire system,” he said. “If somebody knows the system, knows the players well and can communicate well, I think he has the advantage.”
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The interviews for the remainder of India's backroom staff will commence next week, tentatively from August 19-22. India's senior selection panel, led by MSK Prasad, was supposed to pick the head coach's support staff, as per the BCCI's new constitution, but according to reports, the CAC wanted to have a say, and expressed its interest and wrote to the BCCI requesting to be involved in the process.
The current coaching team, comprising head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, batting coach Sanjay Bangar and fielding coach R. Sridhar — who were given a 45-day contract extension following the World Cup — got an automatic entry in the recruitment process.
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