As Anil Kumble entered the fray to become India coach, all the equations altered as before Anil’s entry into the list, Ravi Shastri was a clear favourite for the job. But Kumble’s appointment left Shahstri to lament and reflect on his two-year stint with Indian team as a Team Director.
Shastri was appointed team India’s Team Director when India lost the four-match Test series in England 3-1. Indian players have lost their confidence. But Shastri instilled confidence in them and subsequently, India won the ODI series.
Shastri has played five Tests matches alongside Anil Kumble in early 1990s. The former Indian allrounder said the decision of BCCI would have no impact on his personal equation with Kumble.
Shastri also said Kumble called him as the 15 days long appointment process completed. “Anil called me as soon as the appointment was made,” he told a cricket website Wisden.
“I told him that he has a fantastic bunch of boys to work with, and I’m sure he’ll take them to greater heights. He asked me if he could talk to me further, and I said anytime. I wish him only the very best,” Shastri further added.
In 2014 August Shastri was appointed as team director. India failed to win the Test series in Australia, followed by that they lost the triangular series. But in the World Cup India reached the semifinal of 2015 World Cup. And again lost another series this time to Bangladesh.
But in 2016, India won the in the tour to Sri Lanka, and a 3-0 Test series victory against South Africa at home followed.
“I’m immensely proud of what we achieved in those 18 months,” he said. “The boys were at a very low ebb at the time I took over as team director. From there, we went from strength to strength. We were briefly No. 1 in the Test rankings, No. 2 in ODIs and No. 1 in T20s.
“What gave me greatest satisfaction though were the performances overseas. We showed great heart and character in Australia. We won a one-day series in England for the first time in 24 years. We beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka for the first time since 1993. And the icing on the cake was the World Cup – seven wins on the trot before losing to the eventual champions in the semifinal.”
However, many thought Shastri failed to fail to make the cut because he failed to take India beyond the finishing line in the major tournaments.
“If you look at the three major events, we lost to the eventual winners in two of them – Australia at the World Cup, and to West Indies in the final over of the World Twenty20 semifinal,” he said. “And we won the Asia Cup. If that’s your definition of failure, then I don’t know what to say.”
But when asked whether he was surprised with the decision of BCCI as after 5-1 Test series victories and with 13 Test series to hold in India. “I’m not surprised,” said Shastri. “I’d say disappointed.”
Disappointed Shastri said, “It’s like planting a tree and then cutting it down just as it’s beginning to bear fruit.”
“We’d done the hard work overseas, and now, after the upcoming tour of the West Indies, we have a lengthy home season, where we could have really turned the screws. But it’s not to be, and that’s life.
“At the time I took over and in the months that followed, the BCCI was being hammered left and right – by the courts, in the media, by the fans. The one shining light was the performance of the Indian cricket team. But nothing surprises me when it comes to Indian cricket,” Shastri signed off.