From Daniel Vettori to Mike Hussey, Ravi Shastri, and even Rahul Dravid, a lot of names have been discussed over the past few months for Team India’s coaching job.
Reports have claimed that Ravi Shastri is ready to apply again for the team director’s role. Dravid’s name also has been backed for the vacant position by a number of former Indian players, including Azharuddin and Sunil Gavaskar.
The Indian team is without a head coach for over a year now after Duncan Fletcher’s contract expired at the end of the 2015 World Cup. Ravi Shastri was temporarily appointed as the team director, but that contract ended after the 2016 World Twenty20.
Frankly speaking, as different as chalk and cheese, Shastri and Dravid seem to be the most qualified people for the post. In his few months tenure as the under-19 coach, Dravid has managed to make a remarkable influence on the young generation. He is not at all overbearing but at the same time Dravid made sure to enrich the players with stories from his vast experience as he shared those with the future of Indian cricket after every single training session.
To be precise, extremely hard working Rahul Dravid was quite famous for focusing on even the smallest detail while getting ready for every match. The results were eminent when the U-19 squad won everything on their way to the World Cup earlier this year where they ultimately lost to West Indies in the title battle. Dravid has an extraordinary 13-1 win record going for him, in a 4 month period.
Dravid had worked as the mentor of the now-defunct Rajasthan Royals IPL squad for two successive seasons, so he had the experience needed to groom youngsters like Sanju Samson and Karun Nair. He had also served as batting consultant to the Indian team ahead of their England tour in 2014, and several players talked highly of their fruitful interactions with “The Wall” of Indian cricket.
Becoming India’s head coach will obviously followed by more than a fair share of scrutiny, and even someone with such an exemplary reputation like Dravid’s will not be left alone if the team doesn’t perform well.
There will be gigantic expectations as per his stature in this country, and the fans will be looking for results straight away.
Meanwhile, Ravi Shastri has given some impressive results as well. Two Test series victory against Sri Lanka and South Africa, reaching the World Cup semi-final and then the World T20 semi-final, India enjoyed a decent run of form under the former all-rounder. Keeping his focus more on the mental aspect of playing, Shastri is definitely a unique blend of a coach who can lead any youngster and a manager who always keeps in mind how to the comfort the players off the field. From defending his boys at disciplinary hearings to quickly arrange an impromptu surprising dinner, Ravi Shastri has always prioritised the team’s best interests.
Even players have been quite impressed to see Shastri’s great technical knowledge. Suresh Raina had also acknowledged that his shot-making through cover and mid-off has improved as he changed his stance last year after Shastri’s advice.
India is basically looking at a long season where they have to play 12 Tests at home after the West Indies tour in July-August. BCCI have already decided not to appoint any team director for the relatively easier Zimbabwe series but if they are looking at long-term successor of Duncan Fletcher, they have to appoint somebody for at least three years till the 2019 World Cup in England.
Dravid brings with him a wealth of top-notch technical advice that could be put to good use while Shastri worked well with Virat Kohli after he was elevated as Test captain, post MS Dhoni’s retirement from the longer format. But to have Dravid as U-19 coach and Shastri as the senior team director is an arrangement that has reaped good results over the last one year. Indian cricket should be well served if the BCCI stick to that for a longer time.