Asserting that he will be a tough boss, head coach Ravi Shastri says that he decided to enter the fray when he realised that there were a lot of problems in the dressing room
Team India’s new head coach Ravi Shastri talks tough. PIC/AFP
For someone who had the honour of leading India in only one Test (vs West Indies at Chennai in 1988), Ravi Shastri knows a thing or two about dealing with limited opportunities. After losing out to Anil Kumble last year, a disappointed Shastri returned to the commentary box. Now, he is back in the dressing room.
He probably never dreamt of getting back in a coaching position, but cricket never fails to throw up unexpected opportunities.
Excerpts from an interview:
You were literally the players’ choice according to the media, but some say you are indebted to them and hence will be a soft coach…
Go and ask the players! One look in my eyes and they know where they stand with me.
Has your appointment diluted the disappointment of last year?
I don’t carry baggage. I am not a guy who delves into the past. Anyone who has known me through the years knows I let bygones be bygones and move on. There is so much more to life than just brooding and crying over spilt milk. You’ve got to move on, which I did. I did a heck of a lot of a television work, did almost 140 days of television (commentary) last year of live cricket that kept me immensely busy and allowed me to focus on the job which was to watch and comment on cricket or be involved in cricket.
What made you apply for the head coach’s post in the first place?
I didn’t apply in the first place. What did make me apply was when I realised that there was a huge problem there. Initially, I didn’t reply but I didn’t realise how serious the issues were.
Therefore, when the BCCI reopened the (application window), I gave it a thought and said to myself, ‘you must (apply) because you have been instrumental in (the appointment of) your support staff and have seen where your team has risen to. Now, you can also see in front of your eyes that there is a problem, so instead of backing away from it, take it head on.’
Were you surprised to discover a problem (in the team)?
I was. That’s why I didn’t apply initially. I didn’t realise the gravity (of the situation) and if it (the problem) was there from the very beginning and I knew about it, I would’ve applied in the first place.
So there was no prompting from Tendulkar to apply?
No. It was my personal decision.
Does the messy situation make the job harder now?
Not at all! I’ve just to move in there and carry on from where I left. I am not going to delve into what happened over the last 12 months. My job is to take things forward. I never look back. I know where I finished and I know where I have to start.
Can you give us an idea of the anxiety you went through over the last few days?
There was no anxiety as such. I was quietly confident because of two things – your track record and achievements spell everything out – your credentials and experience for the job, so I wasn’t anxious. What has to happen will happen.
And you finally won over a certain Sourav Ganguly…
I don’t look at it in that fashion. The committee was chosen to appoint a head coach and they did their job.
How do you plan to take things forward with Dravid and Zaheer being batting and bowling consultants? They will land up in the dressing room. How do you view this?
In fact, even in my last stint, I had asked people like Rahul and Zaheer to come every now and then. I even asked Sachin to come at some stage and have a chat with the boys. I always believe that you need a fresh set of ideas. Your core team is meant to do the job for 200 days a year and every now and then, whenever you get some fresh inputs through with the quality of players like Zak (Zaheer) or Rahul it can only be good.
Tomorrow it could be an excellent fielding coach. What stops Jonty Rhodes from coming and having a chat with the boys? Overseas, I could pick the brains of a fast bowler who has bowled very well in those conditions, say in South Africa or Australia. It’s fresh inputs that might trigger off something. I am always open to such kind of ideas.
The team does not have a bowling coach at the moment; Zaheer Khan is only a consultant…
I have just been appointed on Tuesday. I need to go and speak to the authorities and have a good chat with Virat (Kohli) on where we stand with our support staff – do we need additions; do we have to strengthen it in any possible way, and then have a chat with the concerned authorities.