Corrective measure to boost spirits - BCCI secretary
Sanjay Patel, the BCCI secretary, has said the appointment of Ravi Shastri as the Indian team's director, and the reshuffle in the coaching structure, was a "corrective" measure to arrest the waning spirits among the players in England. Patel also made it clear that despite India suffering heavy defeats in the last three Tests in England, the BCCI was not thinking of replacing the captain MS Dhoni and the coach Duncan Fletcher.
Though the decision to put Shastri in charge of the team, and temporarily replace bowling and fielding coaches Joe Dawes and Trevor Penney with Indian staff, was taken by the BCCI, Patel said Dhoni and Fletcher were on board. "I conveyed the BCCI decision to both of them. Dhoni readily agreed and even Duncan has not said a word here or there."
"The team is with Ravi Shastri. Now it is his baby," Patel told ESPNcricinfo. "He will handle everything. If he asks me for any help I will extend."
Shastri's appointment was suggested by Patel, who spoke to the former India allrounder before proposing his name to the BCCI office bearers. When asked if Shastri was the only candidate discussed, Patel said he had the necessary credentials. "We looked at all options. I must appreciate that Ravi Shastri readily agreed to work in the interests of the Indian team. I asked him, 'This is a challenge, Ravi.' He said, 'Sure Sanjay, we can work out something.'"
Patel did not elaborate on Shastri's responsibilities or the division of duties between him and Fletcher. "He will do everything that is required for the team," Patel said. "They (Shastri and Fletcher) will decide the roles between themselves."
When asked what led the BCCI to create a position that had not existed before, Patel said the board felt the players would need some sort of rejuvenation after losing the Test series 3-1.
"We wanted to see what was wrong with the boys. We have full faith in all our players. To support the Indian team, this was the best option to start with. You mean to say our boys do not know how to play cricket. But mentally the players could have been upset. So we wanted to appoint someone who could also work on the mental conditioning. We felt Ravi's experience on field and off field, and his long tenure in cricket as a ex-captain and now commentator, were handy."
India's loss in all the major overseas Test series under Fletcher's watch has sparked an outcry from former India captains and selectors to sack him. Patel did not speculate about Fletcher's future. "It is premature to discuss," he said. "Right now the situation through which the Indian team is going, we have taken the first step. We are not thinking beyond that. After the completion of this tour we will review everything and then decide further action if required."
When asked if there had been any pressure from within the BCCI to think about a replacement for Dhoni as captain, Patel said: "Not at all. Our full support is with him for the entire series. I am absolute about that. I have told him that I have complete faith in him. The rest of the decisions will be taken by selection committee."
Patel also said it was incorrect to conclude Dawes and Penney had been sacked. "You cannot say that right now. We have not discussed anything about their contracts. We have just asked them to step aside. They can go on holiday, or go back home. They can even come to India if they want." Dawes and Penny were replaced by R Sridhar, B Arun and Sanjay Bangar.
The contracts for Fletcher, Dawes and Penney had been renewed as recently as April, when they travelled to Chennai to meet Patel, N Srinivasan, the suspended BCCI president, along with senior board officials. "Under the current situation we felt corrective steps were required," Patel said. "Even if I had taken a decision few months ago but if it was needed to change that now, there is nothing wrong."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo