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BCCI turns to trusted lieutenant Ravi Shastri

Just what the doctor ordered?

Shastri made director of Indian team; news conveyed to Dhoni, Fletcher during late-night conference call.

Ravi Shastri has been appointed director of the Indian cricket team. Shastri had earlier been the team manager when India toured Bangladesh under Rahul Dravid after an early exit from the 2007 World Cup. Incidentally, Dravid was also considered to take over as director (Source: File) Ravi Shastri has been appointed director of the Indian cricket team. Shastri had earlier been the team manager when India toured Bangladesh under Rahul Dravid after an early exit from the 2007 World Cup. Incidentally, Dravid was also considered to take over as director (Source: File)

The news of the appointment of former all-rounder turned commentator Ravi Shastri as director of the Indian cricket team for the one-day series in England was broken to India coach Duncan Fletcher and captain MS Dhoni — both in London — over a conference call at midnight (IST) on Tuesday.

Both Fletcher and Dhoni had no say in the appointment of Shastri as director, the first major change brought in by the Indian cricket board following the 1-3 loss in the Test series against England.

Two members of the coaching staff under the Fletcher regime, bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Trevor Penney, have also been ‘rested’ and have been replaced by former all-rounder Sanjay Bangar and former fast bowler Bharat Arun — both appointed as assistant coaches. R Sridhar, who has been attached to the National Cricket Academy, has been appointed the team’s fielding coach.

Message sent out 

While Fletcher will remain the head coach, Shastri will not remain a figurehead but has been empowered to take cricketing decisions and guide the team, which is smarting after losing the series inspite of going one-up at Lord’s in the second Test. It is learnt that Fletcher will have to report to Shastri. While Dhoni’s position as captain is not under threat, with Shastri around he won’t be the only one taking decisions for the team.

The conference call was made by BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel and also on the line was treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary and joint secretary Anurag Thakur. Fletcher and Dhoni were told that following the loss in the Test series, which worsened the team’s record outside the sub-continent, the BCCI was putting Shastri ‘overall in charge of the cricket affairs of the Indian team’.

“We are upset with the way India performed. As a first step we have taken these decisions, including that of the appointment of Ravi Shastri. At the moment they (Dawes, Penney) have been asked to step aside. We want our boys to do well in the ODI series now,” Patel told The Indian Express on Tuesday.

Imminent change 

The appointment of a former cricketer was imminent after the collective loss of form in the Test series. “We had a few names in mind and the office-bearer decided to appoint Ravi Shastri as the director. The decision wasn’t taken in a hurry. It was in the pipeline over the past week or so. I spoke to Ravi Shastri and he straight away said ‘yes’,” Patel added.

A BCCI statement on Tuesday said: “In culmination of the discussions among all the office-bearers of the BCCI over the last couple of weeks, the BCCI has decided to avail the services of former India captain, Mr. Ravi Shastri, to oversee and guide the Indian cricket team for the forthcoming one-day international matches against England. Mr. Duncan Fletcher will continue as Head Coach while Ravi Shastri will be the overall in-charge of Cricket affairs of the Indian Team.”

With regard to the appointment of Bangar and Arun, the release stated: “In their continuing efforts to re-energise the support to the team, the BCCI has given a break to the bowling coach Mr. Joe Dawes and the fielding coach, Mr. Trevor Penney, for the one-day series, and appointed Mr. Sanjay Bangar, former Indian all-rounder, and former India fast bowler Mr. Bharat Arun as the Asst. coaches of the team. Mr. R. Sridhar will join the support team as the fielding coach for the one-day series.”

Dawes, a former Queensland fast bowler, joined the Indian team during the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in 2012 while Penney had taken up the role following India’s 50 over World Cup win in April 2011.

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