Ravi Shastri, India’s new head coach, would meet a four-member committee formed by the Indian cricket board on Tuesday to sort out the support staff issue that has been raging on for the past few days. The meeting on Tuesday will strive to answer three questions currently plaguing Indian cricket. Is Zaheer Khan willing to take up the role? Is Shastri interested in just using Zaheer occasionally on a need-to basis? Would the consultant role stretch Dravid too much as he is already the coach of India A and U-19 teams? It’s learnt that Shastri hasn’t yet told the BCCI that he does not want the services of Rahul Dravid and Zaheer.
The four-member committee would comprise Diana Edulji, member of Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (COA), BCCI’s acting president CK Khanna, the acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary, and the BCCI CEO Rahul Johri. Shastri was expected to arrive from US on Saturday night.
There have been a few twists and U-turns already in the last few days. The latest came on July 15 when Vinod Rai, the head of COA, said that the decision by the Cricket Advisory Committee to name Dravid and Zaheer were just “recommendations”, and not appointments. “There is no such thing as a contract yet. A recommendation was made and the COA has to act on that recommendation. That recommendation would be acted upon in consultation with the head coach,” was how Rai put it on Saturday. “Whether it’s Zaheer Khan or Dravid, they have other assignments. We have to ascertain their willingness and availability. Dravid is committed elsewhere. So is Zaheer. Secondly, we have to see conflict of interest issues,” Rai said. Dravid is the junior-team coach, and Zaheer plays in IPL.
However, this contradicts what Sourav Ganguly, member of CAC, said as late as Friday. “Zaheer will be contracted for 150 days per year,” Ganguly told reporters. Which was soon negated by the BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary who said: “I’m not aware of this.” Rai, however, dismissed it, saying Zaheer has “outrightly denied it. Controversy had broken out soon after Shastri’s appointment as reports emerged that COA wasn’t happy that the CAC, comprising of Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, and Ganguly, had extended their briefs by naming Zaheer and Dravid as consultants.
Hurt by the accusations that they had breached their roles, the CAC wrote to Rai that he was kept in loop about what had transpired in the selection meeting. “We spoke to Mr Shastri about getting Mr Khan and Mr Dravid on board in these capacities, and he readily agreed to the idea of having them in the set-up so that it would benefit the team and Indian cricket as a whole in time to come. It was only after getting Mr Shastri’s consent that we also recommended Mr Khan and Mr Dravid, in their respective capacities … Also, we did inform you (Rai) over the phone along with Rahul Johri and Amitabh Choudhary of all that transpired immediately after the meeting was over.”
On July 12, a press release (“COA hails CAC”) from BCCI had said, the board would “accept the recommendations in totality”. But three days later, they have turned their backs on it.