“I didn’t think of becoming India coach. BCCI secretary Amitabh Chaudhary and Dr Sridhar (GM Cricket Operations) came to me. They requested me. I took my time. I spoke to Virat Kohli. Voh bhi yahi keh rahe they, tab jaake I applied. (He also said the same, only then I applied).” Virender Sehwag, who lost the India coaching job to Ravi Shastri, has broken his two-month silence to throw light on the events that transpired in the run-up to the most coveted sporting job in the country. In an interview with India TV, Sehwag revealed he had applied for India-coach job in May only after speaking to India captain Kohli, who urged him to do so, and after he was initially approached by the BCCI officials.
When asked why despite being friends with the cricket advisory committee, comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, he didn’t get the job, Sehwag said with a smile: “Meri setting nahi thi na! (I didn’t have a lobbying power)”. Sehwag clarified that he didn’t think that Shastri had that “setting”: I won’t say that (he had). They had to choose the best candidate among 10 applicants. Ravi Shastri was the best. And he got the chance to coach.”
Sehwag also clarified that he would never have applied for the job had he known Shastri would also show interest. Sehwag said he had even asked Shastri why he hadn’t applied for the role during Champions Trophy in England. “When we were commenting in England, I asked him, why aren’t you applying and he told me, “ek baar galti kar chuka hoon, dobara nahi karoonga.” (I had made mistake once, won’t repeat it twice). It was a controversial sequence of events that culminated in Shastri bagging the job in July.
First Anil Kumble resigned after a rift with Kohli, then as reported first by The Indian Express in May, the BCCI officials approached Sehwag but when it seemed he was the frontrunner, Shastri entered the pitch, and eventually ran away with the job. It was reported that Sehwag didn’t get the job because he wanted to bring his own set of support staff and that didn’t sit well with Kohli who wanted the likes of Sanjay Bangar, as batting coach, and Bharat Arun as bowling coach. On Friday, Sehwag said that it’s common practice that a coach would have a support staff of his preference.
“Every coach desires to bring in his own support staff. Ek ya do changes zaroor karta hai support staff mey. Jo mere issab sey kaam kare, main jo baate karoon, voh implement ho. (who would work according to my style, and implement the things I want). If I had become coach, one or two changes would definitely have been there.” It was reported then that Ganguly wanted Sehwag as the coach but it fell through after consultations with Kohli. “Did he tell you that (Ganguly was backing him)? All that was just news — true, false, no one knows. I was friends with all of them (in the panel). Ganguly, Tendulkar, and I do commentary with Laxman – bhrata bulate hain (we call each other brother). But that decision (to appoint a coach) can’t be based on friendship. Who they felt as best candidate, they picked him.”
Sehwag said that he tried to patch things between Kohli and Kumble, before he applied for the role. “Pareshani thi (I was troubled) with the way Kumble exit happened. Even when I was in England for commentary (for Champions Trophy), I tried to speak to both people. Dono sey baat karke, yadi dono reh jaaye, un dono ki ban jaaye – kumble and kohli ki then acha ho. (if both could stay, if things could work out well between them, it would have been for the best.”)
Sehwag also backed Kumble as coach, saying that he was the best out there. “Perhaps circumstances weren’t right for him to stay. The biggest thing – what we call baddapan (magnanimity) that Kumble resigned himself. Lekin (whole procees) galat tha (whole process was wrong). Perhaps, time kharaab tha aur unko jaana pada.Warna unsey behter and kabil coach toh koi bhi nahi tha. (There was no one better or able than him as coach).
Sehwag also shared that he wasn’t hurt or upset with the decision to appoint Shastri as he respected the decision of the legendary cricketers in the panel. “Why would I get hurt? Who were the people who were selecting — Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman. So, there is no question of being sad, disappointed, or upset.” On July 10, in a press conference where it was expected that name of new coach would be announced, Ganguly had instead said that he would consult Kohli before making that decision. “We feel as the advisory committee that he’s the captain, which is the most important thing in cricket,” Ganguly had said then. “Maybe that’s why Ganguly wanted to speak to Kohli,” Sehwag said. “When Kumble became coach first time, that time no one was spoken to. Sirf announce kiya. It’s better when you appointing coach, you speak to captain and senior players.”
The format of the India TV interview also allowed audience to question Sehwag, and when a fan asked him whether he got angry at a player during his playing days so much so that he felt like slapping him? (Kabhi aisa hua hai ki, aapko bahut gussa aaya ho kisi player pey and usko do lagane ka dil kara ho?!). Sehwag smiled, before saying he did feel angry at Kohli on one occasion.
“Once, I did get angry at Kohli, during the Perth Test in 2012. While fielding at the boundary, he showed the (middle) finger to the crowd. Match referee fined him. I got angry because in that whole series, he was the only player who was scoring runs for us and khuda-na-khaasta ban ho jaata, our batting would have collapsed. That’s why I got angry at him. Aisi harkatey mat karo… tum toh ban ho jaoge, and team ka nuksaan hoga. (Don’t do such antics, not only would you get banned but the team would be in trouble.),” he added.