Ravi Shastri was recommended by the Cricket Advisory Committee to be the Indian cricket team’s batting coach, with Anil Kumble as the head coach, but the parent body asked its members not to overstep their brief.
The committee, comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V V S Laxman and Sanjay Jagdale (coordinator), had been given the responsibility to pick only the new coach of the Indian team. Anil Kumble was eventually picked over Tom Moody, riding on Virat Kohli’s support.
Shastri, the former India all-rounder and team director till the end of the World T20 held earlier this year, had applied for the position of head coach. He submitted his presentation in advance and gave an interview via video link from Bangkok when the coach selection process was being conducted at a Kolkata hotel on June 21.
It is learnt that Kumble and Moody nosed ahead of him in the race, but the committee wanted Shastri to be part of the set-up as batting coach.
“It was a long meeting, which lasted seven-eight hours. Ideas were bounced off. Yes, the panel recommended Shastri’s name as batting coach, at which point I intervened. The committee’s mandate was restricted to appointing the head coach of the Indian team and I just reminded them that,” BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke told The Indian Express.
“We have taken a decision that like all professional sporting set-ups, the head coach will bring his own team of support staff. The BCCI is striving for transparency, professionalism and excellence,” he said.
One of the committee members, Ganguly, was not present at the Taj Bengal when Shastri was interviewed. The former India captain was at the Cricket Association of Bengal instead, attending the state association’s working committee meeting between 5 pm and 6.30 pm on June 21. Ganguly, however, took prior permission to leave the boardroom and was apprised of the panel’s interaction with Shastri on his return.
As Shastri fell off the radar during the interview process, it became a two-horse race between Kumble and Moody. In the end, the leg-spinner became a unanimous choice after India’s Test captain Kohli gave his vote of confidence.
“Kumble’s name was finalised following feedback from Kohli. Both Kumble and Moody gave very impressive presentations. In fact, the Australian became a serious choice, given his coaching pedigree. But Kohli wanted Kumble with an eye to improve the performance of the spinners overseas. Spinners don’t win us Tests outside the subcontinent and Kohli felt Kumble could play an important role in this regard,” said a BCCI insider.
Indian spinners, indeed, had an underwhelming record outside the subcontinent as the team lost 15 Tests over the last five years. R Ashwin finished 2015 as the ICC’s No. 1 Test bowler. The off-spinner contributed immensely in India’s 2-1 series win in Sri Lanka with 21 wickets at an average of 18.09. But away from the subcontinent, Ashwin has been peripheral during the last five-year cycle, with 29 scalps from 10 Tests.
Kohli had earlier batted for Shastri to continue in the role. “As long as he (Shastri) wants to continue in that job, it’s going to be beneficial to the team. He has given confidence to everyone in the team; we are a young side, you need someone who has been there and done that. He is someone who has played cricket on his own terms. Played it with a lot of composure, character and belief. When a guy who has done all that talks to you, a young players gets confident. You can believe what he says,” he had said.
But the committee approached Kohli to make a choice between Kumble and Moody, and he picked the Indian legend.