Ravi Shastri’s tenure as India coach is unraveling faster than you can say ‘tracer bullet’. As pompous the former India all-rounder sounds in his press conferences, the deficiencies in his methods become evident on the field.
India have promised a lot but have failed to deliver spectacularly this year. A 2-1 series defeat in South Africa was chastening but there was hope of victory against a diffident England side as the No1 Test team has a top-class bowling attack and an in-form batsman in Virat Kohli capable of scoring most of the runs on his own.
But after four Test matches in the Pataudi Trophy, India have fallen behind 3-1 with the prospect of finishing 4-1 at The Oval. What has hurt most Indian fans is the manner in which India squandered winnable positions in Birmingham, Southampton and The Oval. Not only that, the team made some major selection blunders like picking an extra spinner on a greentop at Lord’s and selecting an injured Ravi Ashwin in the fourth Test on a spinning pitch.
What’s worse, the team played just one tour game before the start of the series and even took days off to roam around Europe. All this points to a coaching staff not doing the job it is supposed to.
Shatstri’s predecessor Anil Kumble was a hard task master and put into place a sound structure that ensured higher fitness standards, consistency in selection and a general respect of cricketing procedures. However, Kumble was seen as too strict by some players and was thus asked to leave.
His relation with captain Kohli deteriorated beyond repair and the Indian board had no choice but to seek a replacement. However, while Shastri has a great rapport with the Kohli, the team as a whole has fallen well below desired standards even as Kohli the player continues to reach new heights.
What is good for Kohli is proving to be bad for the team and it is high time the BCCI ends the Kohli-Shastri partnership and brings in a senior figure who knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level, has good coaching experience and commands respect of the players. As of now, the person best suited for the job is former India captain Rahul Dravid.
Dravid volunteered to work with ‘A’ team and U-19 team as he felt more comfortable preparing youngsters for the next level as in international cricket there isn’t much a coach can do. However with Shastri, the basics have gone out of the window and India need a sensible head to stop Kohli from making more blunders.
The India captain still maintains tour games are not that important as the teams provided are not of the highest quality. India didn’t play a tour game in South Africa and had just one in England. But Kohli still refuses to accept it was a mistake. India played a clearly unfit Ashwin in the decider but the team insisted before the fourth match that the spinner has recovered. Someone like Dravid, if given the free hand, will never allow the situation to reach such a stage.
Dravid has worked wonders with the U-19 team, leading them to the World Cup triumph earlier in the year, while almost every cricketer in the ‘A’ team swears by the input they have received from the batting legend in improving their game. Kohli needs someone of the stature of Dravid to stop him from making bad calls because he has already made some howlers and is yet to accept those mistakes.
The issue here, mainly, will be if Dravid wants the role especially after seeing how a great like Kumble was forced out of the team. However, with the team needing a strong guiding hand to rein in the tempestuous Kohli, Dravid is just the man the team needs. Whether they get him is another matter.
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