The tenure of Ravi Shastri as Team India’s head coach terminated with the national side’s exit from the 2021 T20 World Cup, in the UAE. Hence, Shastri’s four-year-long tenure as head coach finally came to an end, which included several highs as well as some big shake-ups.
To the uninitiated, Shastri got the job of the head coach in mid-2017 after Anil Kumble’s unceremonious exit. Under him, India beat Australia twice in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under, earned an unassailable 2-1 lead over England in the five Tests in the United Kingdom early this year, reached the 2019 ODI World Cup semi-finals and ended as runners-up in the inaugural WTC. In addition, India dominated oppositions at home, across formats, and enjoyed wholesome success in limited-overs bilateral series while being on the road.
Nevertheless, the former all-rounder-turned-commentator’s contributions for Indian cricket continued even before he took over as head coach in 2017. In 2014, his services were sought as team director, amid then coach Duncan Fletcher’s presence, and continued to perform the role till early 2016. Thus, he was touted to be the ideal candidate to succeed Fletcher (continuing in his role even after Fletcher’s departure). However, BCCI went ahead with Kumble before the former Indian spinner’s rift with Virat Kohli brought Shastri back into the scheme of things, as the head coach.
Claiming that he wasted no time after being made the head coach in early 2016, Shastri said in a recent interview, “There was this bolt from the blue. In less than two years after I was asked set aside my broadcast career, leave everything else and join the team, I suddenly found myself out for no reason. I had sown the seeds and the fruits were beginning to show and out of nowhere I came to know I was being replaced. Nobody told me why.”
On being asked if the decision hurt him, the former cricketer didn’t hold back and claimed, “Yes, more than anything, it hurt because of the manner in which it was done. For all that I had contributed, just on one word from the BCCI, there were better ways to let me know ‘Oh look we don’t want you, we don’t like you. We want somebody else’ – if that was the case. Anyway, I went back to do what I do best – which is television. Around nine months passed, and I didn’t even have a clue that there was anything wrong inside the team. I mean, what could’ve been wrong? I was told there was a real problem and I said – how can there be a problem in nine months? The team that I had left was in such a good space. How the hell in nine months could something go that drastically wrong?”
Shastri affirmed, “During my second stint, I came after a huge controversy. And it was literally egg on the faces of those who wanted me away. They opted for someone and nine months later, they came back to the very guy they threw out. And I’m not pointing any fingers at people (BCCI) in general. Specific people. I must say an attempt was made to ensure I don’t get the job. But such is life.”
Shastri has pointed fingers at a few people in the BCCI who did not want him as the head coach initially in 2016 Rahul Dravid has replaced him as the head coach while India have gone through several changes post Shastri’s exit.
Selectors replaced Kohli with Rohit Sharma as India’s limited-overs captain. While the former continues to be in-charge of the Test side, Rohit has been promoted as his deputy in whites.
India are next scheduled to play three Tests and ODIs each versus South Africa, in the African nation, from 26 December.