Role of a cricket coach
A lot is being said and has been said about Ravi Shastri's capabilities and his management of India's Senior team. Especially after the heavy defeats in the first two Tests played against England on the English soil. That has certainly taken a back-seat after India's thumping win against England in the 3rd Test at Trent Bridge.
Rolling back a few years, there are three very important squads in which any Indian youngster needs to perform, to make it big in the cricketing world - the Under-19, Ranji & then, of course, the National Team. The Under-19 is the Introduction, Ranji is the growth, and the National Team is the peak, maturity and sometimes decline.
Ranji trophy is much more about consistency in performing, as it is first-class cricket, and it builds the team for the nation's Test cricket squad, which is the real deal when it comes to cricket. It's comparatively easy to go overseas or be at home, and give in a power-packed performance for a few hours, and win an ODI or T20, but it takes real mental and physical strength to perform for 5 days consecutively for roughly 7 hours every day. Ranji Trophy basically gives the players a trailer of what actually Test cricket is all about.
The Under-19 and the Senior squad are two levels of cricket, which either make or break a cricketing career, and that's because the opportunities may not be abundant. The Under-19 builds the character of a player, teaches him the nits and grits of the cricketing language, whereas the Senior Squad is more about maintaining consistency in performance and playing for the pride of your country.
Rahul Dravid is doing what exactly a Coach needs to do with the Indian Under-19 team. The Under-19 squad will be our Senior squad in roughly 10 years time and there are some real expectations from them, in a country where cricket is more than a religion.
And what better than having the Gentleman of Cricket, Rahul Dravid - as their coach. A legend of his time, he has often reportedly gone on record to say that his performances reflected two things - love for the game and pride of playing for the country. And that basically what is needed to be taught to the Under-19 squad in today's world.
Needless to mention, the team needs to be taught other technical aspects of the game, like leadership, strategies, keeping the head right in tough times, field-setting and how to tackle certain conventional cricket situations. No doubt over Dravid's capabilities about the same.
Now coming to the man who is heavily criticized regularly about his style of coaching - Ravi Shastri. He is, what we can call, the Manager. If we consider his managerial skills, I think he is doing a spot-on job with the team right now, no matter what the critics say.
In a nutshell, a manager's job is to look after every player individually to make him comfortable so that he performs on the field. If he is happy, he is bound to perform better, than when not mentally at peace.
According to the above-mentioned guidelines, Greg Chappell would be considered one of the worst 'managers' and Anil Kumble would be in the same books. They were amazing coaches. But Team India doesn't need a coach right now, they need a manager. They knew what was needed to make the team perform well, from an analytical and tactical point of view, but they forgot one of the most important aspects of management - team atmosphere and players' happiness.
Ravi Shastri has been doing it perfectly. The players are happy, the captain is happy. He is often criticized when players are seen with their WAGS (wives and girlfriends) on tours or attending BCCI events, but if that is getting the results for the team, I think that's a card that Shastri has been playing really well.
Now there is some logic behind Shastri's criticism for his managerial skills. There are some players in the squad who weren't stars during their Under-19 days, like Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, who might need more of a coach than a manager right now and this might be that missing piece of the Indian Cricketing puzzle.
Shastri has been one of the greats of Indian Cricket and would certainly have something up his sleeve for tackling this problem.