India's new tall, shouty envisioneer
There comes a moment in the story of any failing organisation, when someone high up decides that what they really need is a tall, shouty, expensively suited consultant from outside industry. For Indian cricket, that moment is now.
Usually, out of deference to the person who is still nominally in charge, the shouty consultant is given a limited role. So what is Ravi Shastri's remit?
"My role is to oversee everything."
That's right. For the remainder of the tour, Ravi will be omnipotent, like a deity, or a really pungent brand of aftershave, or the ebola virus. He is a free-floating, outside the box, blue-sky envisioneer, though he will initially be focusing on these key areas:
Finishing Duncan Fletcher's sentences
Contradicting Duncan Fletcher at team meetings
Posting snide comments about Duncan Fletcher beneath ESPNcricinfo articles
Impromptu dressing-room impersonations of Duncan Fletcher to raise morale
But like any good trouble-shooter, Ravi has a nose for problems, and he has already sniffed one out. It seems that there are certain anatomical irregularities in the Indian team that may help to explain their poor performances:
"I saw some spineless cricket over the last three Test matches. Spineless means no stomach for the fight."
Near enough, Ravi, near enough. So this weekend, all the Indian players will be X-rayed for the presence of both spines and stomachs, and if necessary will be referred to the gastro-orthopaedic department of Metaphorical Hospital, Mumbai, where they will be operated on by a certain Dr Shastri wielding a microphone and a scalpel:
"Virat, you called incorrectly, so you're going under the knife first. Good toss to lose? Okay surgical team, are you ready! I can't hear you! Let's transplant some internal organs!"
Ravi has also been working his magic with the batsmen as this overheard conversation from yesterday's net session reveals:
Ravi: "No, no, no, Rohit, you're getting it all wrong. Remember what I said. Like a tracer bullet. A tracer bullet.
Rohit: "I'm sorry, but I don't know what you mean."
Ravi: "A tracer bullet, man, a tracer bullet! Not an ordinary bullet, I'm thinking specifically of a tracer bullet. Imagine you, or the bat, or some other relevant entity has been some way transmogrified into a tracer bullet and..."
Rohit: "Stop staying tracer bullet! I'm so confused! I want to go home!"
But, as he revealed at his third press conference of the morning on Friday, there is one area in particular that Ravi thinks the Indian players have neglected.
"Trust me, I played 80 Tests for India. I was voted world's sexiest spin-bowling allrounder in 1984. I know that if you want to be successful in life, you've got to know how to shout. If you ask my close personal friend Sachin Tendulkar, he will tell you the same thing. You want to win Test matches, you've got to bellow.
"Anyone can do it. They just need a little guidance. There is a boat load of shouting talent in this team. Take a guy like Ashwin, for example. He's a roarer, an Indian Brian Blessed.
Shikhar is another one, a natural. I stamped on his toe at shouting practice yesterday and he screamed like Little Richard."
Finally, Ravi has also been given the onerous task of identifying potential candidates for the coaching position in the unlikely event that it might become unexpectedly vacant in the next few months/weeks/days/minutes.
"We're working very hard. We've narrowed the search down to tall former Indian allrounders with the objectivity that comes from a successful career in the commentary box and a wardrobe stuffed with interesting ties. We have a very short shortlist, with fewer than two names on it, but we cannot say any more until we've told Duncan when he is resigning."
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here