'My role is to oversee everything' - Shastri
Former India allrounder Ravi Shastri, the newly appointed team director for the ODI series in England, has said that though he will be in charge of the team, head coach Duncan Fletcher has not been sidelined.
"My role is to oversee everything. All of them report to me," Shastri told ESPNcricinfo in an interview where he expanded on his role. The decision by the BCCI to bring in Shastri along with the three Indian assistants - Sanjay Bangar (batting), B Arun (bowling) and R Sridhar (fielding) - and "give a break" to fielding coach Trevor Penney and bowling coach Joe Dawes ignited speculation about Fletcher's future.
But Shastri emphasised that Fletcher would not be sidelined. "Absolutely not. He stays as the head coach. And these two (Bangar and Arun) will be his assistants. I am there to oversee."
Immediately after the BCCI made public his appointment on Tuesday morning, Shastri went to the team hotel in London where he had a two-hour chat with both MS Dhoni and Fletcher to chalk out plans for the five-match ODI series which starts in Bristol on Monday. "We had a chat about where things are at the moment and how things have to be addressed. And how important communication will be."
Shastri has been blunt in his assessments in the wake of India's 3-1 defeat against England in the five-match Test series. Although he picked inexperience as the deciding factor behind India's defeat he described the team's performance as "spineless". "On this tour I saw India's greatest ever overseas win I have seen. I know it because I have never seen a track like that and with this kind of inexperienced side, for them to pull it off... Then I also saw some spineless cricket over the last three Tests matches. Spineless means stomach for a fight. People would have accepted 3-1 if there was a little more fight."
Shastri said that it was painful to watch batsmen not learning from their mistakes during the series. "My only disappointment was players at times making the same mistake," Shastri said. "That disappointed me. Everyone makes a mistake, but you want to try something different."
In his newspaper column, published the day after the Oval defeat, Shastri wrote: "Five sessions and not five days have been enough to nail them. But move on we must. Sit back and watch if these glam boys are ready for penance." Asked who exactly were his targets, Shastri revealed it was the top-order pair of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.
"I was hard on Pujara and Kohli specifically because they came here with big reputations. And they have been brought down to earth with their techniques being found out against the moving ball. And there is nothing wrong in that, it has happened to the biggest players. Now the true test of their character will be: how they bounce back. I have absolutely no doubt that not only will they bounce back, they will excel very, very soon."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo