At 22:57 IST on Tuesday, a BCCI email confirmed Indian cricket’s worst kept secret: Ravi Shastri was named the ‘new’ head coach. It put an end to a day-long swirl of rumours about his appointment, with television channels jumping the gun earlier in the day even as the BCCI was reluctant to put out the official word.
Shastri’s relationship and comfort level with Virat Kohli and other senior members of the team was cozy, albeit at cost of BCCI’s ever dwindling image and negativity surrounding the players.
To put it absolutely straight, this drama regarding the head coach situation is a victory for the players’ ego and conceit against something that they see as a hindrance to their ‘larger than life’ image and lifestyle.
More than just a coach
In real life, several celebrated coaches are known for losing their temper on players. Sir Alex Ferguson was known as a strict disciplinarian. Locker rooms in sports certainly aren’t for the faint-hearted.
After the recent fallout between Indian captain Virat Kohli and former coach Anil Kumble, the latter was blamed for his lack of man management skills. Somehow, in this context, man management skills are equated with coddling the players, giving them complete freedom, and in general, making them feel good about themselves. Going by that definition, the players need a fashion designer or a photographer more than a coach!
Kumble’s Stupendous stint at the helm
Anil Kumble had no prior coaching experience but his results as a coach were awe-inspiring. The team won everything at home across formats, and Kohli blossomed as a Test batsman and skipper alike.
Despite the raging success, there were discords, rifts and ego wars between the captain and the coach in the dressing room. BCCI tried to play down the simmering tensions between the two most important men in the Indian squad.
Kohli too rubbished reports of a ‘rift’ in the Indian camp at the start of the Champions Trophy.
Despite the fact that nobody other than the Indian captain expressed any reservations about Kumble continuing in the job, Kumble’s contract was not renewed.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar slammed team India players after Anil Kumble resigned from the coach’s post.
“So you want softies. You want somebody to just tell you, ‘Okay boys, don’t practice today because you guys are not feeling well. Okay, take a holiday, go shopping’. You want that kind of a person. If somebody is a hard taskmaster and he has got you results like Anil Kumble has got over the last one year. If any of the players are complaining, I feel those players are the ones who should be left out of the team,” added Gavaskar.
The Case of Ravi Shastri
They say a comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there. Perhaps Kumble was taking players out of their comfort zones. In his own words, he held a mirror to the team in an effort to drive
Captaincy is a fickle, fragile job, which depends on the captain’s form and the team’s success rate. Had India not been as successful as it has been in the previous year, would Kohli’s word have counted as much as it evidently did? Would the BCCI then have sacked Kohli as captain for complaining about Kumble?
If reports are to be believed, the team prefers the coaching style of serial pep talker, Ravi Shastri.
If Kumble’s style involves holding a mirror, then Shastri is a master at glossing over the details to paint a pretty portrait. Making someone feel special and gifted all the time isn’t the worst coaching style. It works wonderfully with little kids.
Shastri’s easy going attitude and over-confident demeanour may present a rosy picture to the blindfolded BCCI, but his lifestyle, which depicts a play boy image of the former cricketer raises questions a plenty about his re-appointment.
By following Kohli’s wishes and ignoring all other views, which appear to contradict Kohli’s wishes, the BCCI may be making a sound short-term business decision.
The skipper finally had his say: will the move pay off? It better do!!