Ravi Shastri underestimated Sourav Ganguly or is it just sour grape?

Sankha Ghosh / 30 June 2016
Did Ravi Shastri underestimate Sourav Ganguly or it’s just sour grape?

Ravi Shastri’s ego-clash with Sourav Ganguly is now in public.

Anil Kumble’s appointment as the new coach of the Indian team has left Ravi Shastri red-faced and fuming. The former team director even expressed his anger saying he was disappointed after missing out on the job and also felt hard done by after all those hard works he put in with the Indian team for 18 months.

The competition to be India’s new coach was understandably fierce from the very beginning, with reports continuously claiming there were an astonishing 57 candidates who were in the run for the most coveted job in Indian cricket. In the final lap, that was cut short to only two; the man who has been in charge since 2014, Ravi Shastri, and India’s finest cricketers of all time, an institution for the young generation – Anil Kumble.

Shastri has always been a proud man, some say he has every right to feel that way. He has been a successful cricketer, broadcaster, and a decent coach. It was not that easy for him to be forced to reapply for his own job, and when he prepared himself for the interview, discovered the process was somehow overrunning and Sourav Ganguly has left the interview board to attend a meeting of the Cricket Association of Bengal. It would have made him very upset as he might have thought that Ganguly intentionally left to avoid him.

The result was horrible. Ravi Shastri didn’t hide his disappointment in Ganguly’s perceived slight, claiming in front of the media that Ganguly was “disrespectful of the candidate who was going to the interviewed and disrespectful to the job he was entrusted to do.”

That was surely quite the zinger for a figure like Sourav Ganguly and it’s not at all surprising that Ganguly felt the urge to answer Shastri in public.

Those names on the advisory committee are obviously some impressive ones who selected Kumble as the new India coach. Ganguly might not have been there when Shastri gave the interview through video conference but fellow “fab four” members VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar (through video call) were present.

The most significant issue for Ravi Shastri is how people have perceived this gripe against Indian cricket’s legendary figure Sourav Ganguly. When you arrive for the interview for arguably the biggest job in India and discover that 25 percent of the board has left to attend a meeting of a local cricket association would certainly make even the most relaxed individual feel annoyed. Shastri always wants to express his views forcefully and passionately, so it didn’t come as a surprise if you see him pissed off.

But you cannot deny the perceptions and that’s what happened. People started to troll him for going public about Ganguly’s absence. But how can Shastri digest this snub? When you have been overlooked for a job which you were doing decently for the 18 months ahead of this exhaustive process to find a new coach, you have no other choice left but to show your disappointment.

It doesn’t matter that India were number one in Test cricket while he was in charge or that they made it to the top of the T20 rankings and second in ODIs. People will always label this outburst as sour grapes.

Some will try to justify this situation by saying Shastri was to some extent a victim of how he got the job in the first place rather than how well he served when he got the job. He joined the Indian team during the disastrous England tour back in 2014. After India had been humiliated in the Test series Shastri was brought in as Team Director.

He even cleared out his attitude when he was appointed as team director that his role was to oversee everything. “All of them report to me,” he took a great pride saying this.

It didn’t take long for the then coach Duncan Fletcher and his assistants to be pushed out with Shastri taking full charge. It was a perfect example of the behind the scenes drama to show how BCCI have done business for so long.

It was just like happened in the past; all backroom deals and faceless bureaucrats instead of open and honest decision making.

With the Lodha Committee consistently pushing BCCI and insisting Board should do things differently, this bloated process to appoint a new coach was an example of their approach under the new board president.

It came as a real shock when Shastri was appointed as the supremo of the Indian team and it was also a surprise to see him doing so well considering his little coaching experience prior to the appointment.

Ravi Shastri has every right to feel depressed not to get another shot at the job, but Anil Kumble was the standout candidate. It was loud and clear.

You have to understand, Kumble didn’t get the job because Sourav Ganguly was there when he presented to the advisory committee and absent when Shastri had his turn; he got the gig because he is right now the best person to take charge. We should never criticize someone for being honest, but Shastri did himself very few favours when he complained about this.

Sourav Ganguly was also understood to be a bit miffed with Ravi Shastri, who had never really credited Ganguly for turning Indian cricket around during his tenure as captain. And all hell broke loose when Shastri revealed that Ganguly was not even present when he was being interviewed for the coaching role.

Shastri was pissed off because he thought Ganguly would have asked some questions if he was present and that could have strengthened his position. It’s an open secret now that the CAB president is at present an immensely powerful administrator. His ties with Anurag Thakur are rather close and the two are expected to take Indian cricket to the next level.

Ravi Shastri should have kept that in mind before making such loose comments. Indian cricket is not used to seeing such a sparring contest between cricketers being played out in the media.