Is Ravi Shastri’s continuation as head coach the right step?

In what was an expected move, Ravi Shastri has been reappointed has the head coach of the Indian cricket team till the T20 World Cup of 2021 that is to be played in India. The decision was made by the Kapil Dev-led Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC).

Apparently Shastri’s selection was a “close race”. There were six other applicants for the post – Lalchand Rajput (Indian team manager at WT20 2007), Robin Singh (former India fielding coach), Tom Moody (Sri Lanka coach at WC 2007), Mike Hesson (New Zealand coach at WC 2015) and Phil Simmons (West Indies coach at WT20 2016).

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Moody and Hesson are reputed names and are known to have great cricketing acumen. Many Indian cricket fans were rooting for these two to make the cut. But that wasn’t to be. The CAC felt that Shastri’s experience with the current team gave him the edge.

“Being a current coach, knowing the boys well, knowing the problems well, what has to be done. He was well versed with the system. Somebody knows the system and somebody who knows the players well has an advantage, said Anshuman Gaekwad, one of the members of the CAC.

Kapil Dev, the head of the committee, also felt that Shastri was the best among the candidates when it comes to communication with the players.

This will be Shastri’s 4th stint with the team and he is likely to continue till the 2023 ODI World Cup in India unless something dramatic happens. Shastri has had a decent track record as a coach and Team Director of the team over the past 5 years. He was with the team as the team director in the 2014-16 season. And after the Virat Kohli-Anil Kumble fallout episode, Shastri was made the head coach in July 2017.

Under Shastri’s tenure, India has reached the semi-finals of the ICC 2015 and the 2019 ODI World Cups and also reached the semis of World T20 in 2016. India also attained the number one ranking in both Tests and ODIs under him while winning its first Test series in Australia in 2018-19 season.

While he does have a pretty good record, Shastri has had some criticisms about his role as well. Many are of the opinion that he is favored by captain Virat Kohli and hence made the cut. There is a notion that Shastri is a ‘Yes Man’ that Kohli feels comfortable with and didn’t want that altered.

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Also, the fact that the Indian team couldn’t find a stable middle-order for such a long time, particularly the No.4 spot, has reflected poorly on Shastri, the coach. India kept struggling with their middle-order in the last two years and even in the 2019 World Cup that eventually cost them the tournament. Also, the constant shuffling in the team and non-selection of young talents has not gone down well with the public.

One wonders if a new coach with a new perspective would have helped in this regard. A change at the top could have made a difference with Team India having a long important season in 2020. But now that Ravi Shastri has been reappointed, Indian cricket fans will dearly hope that he irons out the issues plaguing the squad and attempts to shape the team for the future.

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