August 23, 2014

India's new tall, shouty envisioneer

Andrew Hughes
"You know the secret to my erect posture? That I always kept my nose to the grindstone"  © Indian Premier League
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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."

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Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

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Posted by ThatsJustCricket on (August 23, 2014, 13:17 GMT)

All Duncan Fletcher has done in his tenure is stay silent and not get on the wrong side of BCCI and Dhoni. Hardly any Indian fan would shed tears to see him go.

Posted by MuthuKumar_Vanalingam on (August 23, 2014, 11:27 GMT)

Andrew- while i enjoy reading your articles usually, I am not able to find the need of this one. Indian cricket went downhill ever since duncan fletcher took over as coach. He should have been sacked immdiately after 0-8 but RD/VVS/SRT were blamed for it and we were told youngsters would do well and having experienced players is a problem. Now another round of away shambles is going on with young indian team and we are told inexperience is the problem. So I will be very happy if duncan is sacked asap. In this context, appointment of Ravi shastri might improve the morale of the team and enable them to perform better.

Posted by SagirParkar on (August 23, 2014, 11:22 GMT)

Class !

i was hoping you'd write something about Mr Shastri and his new role ;)

does that mean he no longer gets to shout during the toss ?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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