Pained by criticism hurled at them by a section of the media, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman on Thursday wrote a letter to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai and BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary, asking them to clear the air with regard to the appointments of the Indian team head coach and consultants’. The BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman picked Ravi Shastri as the Indian team head coach, while recommending Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid as bowling and batting consultants respectively.
The allegation levelled against the CAC is that the committee exceeded its brief by including Zaheer and Dravid as support staff. The CAC refuted it. “There have been suggestions that the CAC has exceeded its ambit in going with Mr Khan and Mr Dravid, and that these two legends of Indian cricket have been foisted on the head coach. We also bring to your notice that the mail you had circulated to us saying that we had absolutely free hand in picking the coach of the Indian cricket team. Also we did inform you over the phone, along with Rahul Johri (BCCI CEO) and Amitabh Choudhary, of all that transpired immediately after the meeting was over.
“As we have outlined, that is not the case, and it is imperative that the public is made aware of the reality. We could do it ourselves, of course, but we don’t want to further queer the pitch. So we would respectfully request you to clear the air and set the record straight in this regard,” the three legends wrote the letter, accessed by The Indian Express. According to some reports, Bharat Arun was Shastri’s preferred choice as full-time bowling coach. The two worked together during Shastri’s stint as team director from August 2014 to March 2016 and the new head coach wanted a reunion. But Ganguly told this paper on Wednesday that the CAC had recommended Zaheer and Dravid as batting and bowling consultants respectively only after consulting Shastri. “He (Shastri) was consulted by Sachin. That’s why we had asked for time,” the former India captain had said.
A BCCI press release was issued in the wake of the letter. It clarified that Zaheer and Dravid would be part of the Indian team set-up as and when the team needs them during overseas tours. The press advisory that had been sent following Shastri’s appointment as head coach on Tuesday described Zaheer as “the Bowling Consultant” and Dravid as “the Overseas Batting Consultant (Test cricket)”.
The BCCI release on Thursday, however, said: “The recommendation for Mr. Ravi Shastri was made on the merit of his presentation and the vision that he projected for taking the team to greater heights. After taking the decision on his selection, the CAC consulted him and decided on having Batting and Bowling consultants on overseas tour-to-tour basis, as per the requirement of the team.”
In several interviews, Shastri has said he would be happy to have the expertise of Zaheer and Dravid on foreign tours. But it’s an accepted custom in sport that the head coach brings in his own support staff and the COA is considerate towards Shastri’s demand. A COA member told this paper yesterday that the BCCI acting secretary and CEO would be directed to talk to the new head coach in this regard.