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Shastri practical, Hesson analytical: Details of meeting that picked Team India’s head coach

Ravi Shastri, selected as Indian cricket's head coach, said at the interview that BCCI should proactively quash rumours such as Kohli-Sharma rift.

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New Delhi: Team India’s head coach Ravi Shastri wants the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to get proactive when “rumours” such as the reported rift between captain Virat Kohli and the ODI and T20I vice-captain Rohit Sharma start to gain currency.

“The BCCI should use the huge platform at its disposal, its official website, to quash such talk and, if needed, get the individuals to personally clear the air through a video message…

“I don’t, however, believe there ever was anything to the whispering pitting the two senior players against each other,” Shastri is understood to have told the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) when it interviewed him for the head coach’s job via video conferencing last week.

Shastri made his point while responding to a question from CAC chairman Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shanta Rangaswamy on how he would handle the reported rift between Kohli and Sharma.

Kohli, for his part, has termed the rumours as “ridiculous” and felt “fantasies” were being created, which amounted to “very disrespectful” behaviour.

That blast from Kohli came at a media conference on the eve of the team’s departure for the US and the West Indies.

Sharma has not spoken on the subject, and most see that as significant.

Hardly the right solution

The fact is that people continue to speculate on what possibly went wrong between the two, and more importantly, why.

If there actually is an issue, then having the official platform put out a denial can hardly be the right solution. It may even fan the whispering, thereby having quite the opposite effect.

“Shastri wants the BCCI, as the parent body, to quickly react and not wait for a Kohli to come out guns blazing at a media conference,” a top source told ThePrint Wednesday.

It is assumed that the CAC will convey Shastri’s views to the BCCI sooner rather than later, if it hasn’t already.

Also read: Kohli has reduced coach’s appointment to a farce, but there’s a bigger BCCI drama brewing

The head coach selection process

Shastri himself used to offer his first comments on retaining the head coach’s position for two years, edging out Mike Hesson.

Endorsed for the second time by the very-powerful Kohli, Shastri was in any case the clear favourite. Those well-versed with the way the BCCI functions knew it was pointless to expect a dramatic announcement from the CAC. On that score, nobody was disappointed.

All five contenders for the head coach’s position — Shastri, Hesson, Tom Moody, Lalchand Rajput and Robin Singh — were asked a set of common questions, which included the one on the reported rift between Kohli and Sharma.

According to the top source, the common questions were on the lines of:

– Why do you want the job?

– How do you intend taking Team India forward?

– Coaching a high-profile team has challenges. Are you ready?

– How would you tackle situations like the reported rift between Kohli and Sharma?

Follow-up questions were thrown at some of the candidates, depending on their answers. “Naturally, there was flexibility with the questioning,” the source explained.

Having been an integral part of the “system” from August 2014 until now, barring the one-year period when Anil Kumble was the head coach, Shastri knew exactly what to say and when.

That is not to suggest Hesson, who did wonders with New Zealand, first with Brendon McCullum at the helm and then with current captain Kane Williamson, was found wanting.

“Hesson’s answers were more analytical, and he kept going back to his six years as New Zealand’s head coach, while Shastri’s were more practical. He knows where improvement is needed,” the source said.

“Being familiar with the players, Shastri did enjoy an advantage, but the process followed by the CAC was transparent.”

Both Shastri and Hesson gave smart replies on why they wanted to be the head coach. Shastri emphasised that he was driven by a “strong belief” in the team’s potential, while Hesson was direct: “Who wouldn’t want to be head coach of Team India?”

Today, India are in the top two in Tests and ODIs, and No.4 in T20Is — enviable by any yardstick.

Rest of the support staff

Meanwhile, it’s ironic that the CAC is empowered to appoint the head coach, but has no role in the appointment of the rest of the support staff.

Going strictly by the BCCI’s new constitution, which was registered 12 months ago, CEO Rahul Johri is to make those appointments.

At the vetting stage, nobody noticed the absurdity, or that such a provision in the ‘Functions of the CEO’ violated a recommendation of the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha committee.

Accordingly, after seeking legal opinion, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) went by the Justice Lodha committee’s recommendation and directed chief selector M.S.K. Prasad and his four colleagues to do the needful.

That process began Monday, when the first of the 63 interviews for five positions took place in Mumbai. An announcement is expected Thursday.

By the way, the CoA headed by Vinod Rai ignored a formal request from Dev, Gaekwad and Rangaswamy that they also be involved in the exercise.

The BCCI’s constitution empowers the CAC to appoint the selectors, too. Yet, the Devs weren’t considered eligible to play a role in picking the men who will work under Shastri. Strange.

Something is seriously amiss as nowhere in the world, to the best of one’s knowledge, do the selectors appoint any coach. 

Defies logic and can only happen in India.

Also read: Virat Kohli’s ‘camaraderie’ with Ravi Shastri makes him India’s most powerful captain yet


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