I don't believe in unnecessary interference, says Ravi Shastri
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India coach Ravi Shastri has demarcated the roles that he perceives to be a part of a coach's job with a team and has said that he does not believe in unnecessary interference in the players' routine. Speaking to TOI after India's Test series win in Sri Lanka, the newly-appointed coach said that he found no difference in the team when compared to how it was when he had last managed the side in 2016.
"I can't speak for the time when I wasn't around, but what I can say with a sense of absolute belief is that nothing has changed between how things were during my last stint and now," Shastri said, speaking about the trust that the players have for each other.
Shastri's words bear an interesting anecdote to them as it was during former coach Anil Kumble's tenure that questions related to the trust factor between the players and the coach had emerged.
The former India all-rounder attributed this newly-found camaraderie to the free hand that he has given to the players and his belief that his role is only to foster a positive environment within the team.
"All I can say is that the sense of trust comes from the players knowing that they have someone around who they can walk up to and discuss anything they want. If I really want to make lives difficult in order to get 100% commitment from the other guy, I can very well do that and everybody in this set-up knows what I'm talking about," Shastri said.
"Yet, at the same time, I don't believe in unnecessary interference."
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After an acrimonious ending to Kumble's tenure as India coach owing to the differences that he had with the captain Virat Kohli, Shastri was appointed coach after weeks of confusion and name-calling, both within the BCCI and outside.
The 'process' that was vehemently emphasized upon by the BCCI put several of the board's most prestigious officials under the scanner. The Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) put together by the BCCI, which was tasked by the board to pick the new coach, was reportedly divided in its opinion; Sachin Tendulkar backed Virender Sehwag's candidature while VVS Laxman favoured Tom Moody.
In the end, Shastri was appointed as Kumble's successor, most probably because he shared a healthy relationship with the captain, Kohli.
Shastri's coaching tenure has been a successful one so far with India winning all of the three Tests under his tutelage. The bigger challenges, however, in tougher conditions in South Africa, England and Australia await the team, starting with the tour to South Africa in January next year.
The coach also spoke about the attention that is being paid to fitness and fielding, the importance of Test cricket, and his relationship with the captain Virat Kohli. Shastri credited bowling coach Bharat Arun for India's improved bowling performance across formats and lauded the players for the way they 'stamped their authority' over the Lankans.
Shastri's words could be interpreted as having said in an attempt to take a dig at the ousted Kumble, but that could be one reading too much into the lines. Nevertheless, his authoritative statements and the talks of a bonhomie within the team would all be put to test when India face sterner challenges away from the subcontinent.
Since July 2016, India have either played at home, in Sri Lanka -- where conditions aren't much different from India -- or in the West Indies, and while all of their performances cannot be negated in any way, this questionable scheduling of matches -- only one aw Test tour outside Asia over a two-year period and then back-to-back away tours in a year -- has left them with no room to test their skills in uncharted territories.
On this front, Ravichandran Ashwin's association with Worcestershire comes as a pleasant surprise as this stint must help India's ace off-spinner acclimatize to the English conditions and prepare himself for the tour next summer.