Shastri rules out extending term as cricket manager
Ravi Shastri, India's cricket manager for the tour to Bangladesh, made it clear that there was no way he would be continuing with the job as he had other professional commitments, even though this tour had been like, to quote a journalist, a "honeymoon".
"I like honeymoons. The more the merrier," Shastri said. "But I was very clear right from the outset that I would do this job because it was a tough time for India. I was free, but I had made my stand clear with the establishment that I was under a contract with ESPN-Star who are my employers. I am a professional, I believe in work ethics, I believe in contracts."
Had he asked ESPN-Star to release him for the India job? "It's against my nature. When I have a contract in hand, I respect it," Shastri said. He may have finished with the Indian team for now, but would like to see Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh continue in their capacities of bowling coach and fielding coach respectively. "If I am asked, they should stay in place," Shastri said. "Venky and Robin did a fabulous job. They were dedicated cricketers; this job too they did with dedication and pride."
Shastri again rubbished the talks of a divide among the team. Before departing on the tour he claimed India weren't enjoying their cricket, but after a period time with the players has had a change of heart. "I didn't go to the World Cup... but I kept reading a lot," he said, "but what I saw was a brilliant bunch... I had thought that was nonsense. I know now that it is absolute nonsense."
So what had been done to bring a smile back? "That's dressing-room stuff. We have discussed a lot, we have gone one-on-one with each individual."
Shastri had taken charge of the team during precarious times after a poor World Cup and Greg Chappell's departure. He said his way of tackling that was to shut the past out completely. "I focus on the present. The present were these boys given to me by the selection committee."
Shastri may have completely negated the past, but he is on the committee that selects the future coach in a week's time. However, being the true professional that he is he kept his cards close to his chest. He would not even discuss what kind of coach India needed.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer with Cricinfo Magazine