Mid-tour changes 'tough on everyone' - Dravid
Former India captain Rahul Dravid says he would have preferred to wait till the end of India's tour of England before making changes to the support staff. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Dravid said taking such a decision in the middle of a tour was "tough on everyone concerned".
"You don't have problems if people want to make changes, it's part of professional sport. [But] there's still not a lot of clarity on whether this is a long term appointment or the changes we have seen are for this series, so there's a bit of confusion around that," Dravid said. "Sometimes from a players' perspective that can be quite hard. I hope that's something Ravi [Shastri] will handle quite well. All these players also build relationships with support staff and as players you do recognise that at some level you are actually responsible for your own success and failure."
Ravi Shastri was named team director on Tuesday, while Sanjay Bangar, Bharat Arun and R Sridhar were named assistant coaches, sparking off a wave of speculation about Duncan Fletcher's future as head coach. Dravid is of the view that "it will be up to him" to decide whether he is comfortable in continuing in the role in this "new kind of environment", wherein he will have to report to someone at the ground.
Having worked extensively with Fletcher as a player, as well as team mentor recently, Dravid said he got along well with the players. "If you ask me, I think he's got a lot of knowledge and I know having been around the team that the team does respect him and a lot of them get along very well with him and do ask him for a lot of technical advice. There is a good rapport between him and Dhoni."
Dravid was also confident that Shastri and Fletcher would ensure they work together in the best interests of the team. "Knowing the kind of people that they are, they would want to ensure that the players see that there is no issue between them," he said. "Like Ravi says, Duncan will still be the head coach, he will still be running the team meetings and be involved in the selection of the playing eleven. So I hope there is no issue."
Even as the new support staff prepares to take over, Dravid appreciated the work put in by bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Trevor Penney who have been asked to go on leave for the one-day series. According to Dravid both did their jobs "very professionally and tried to do the best they can. Sometimes things don't work out."
Elaborating his point further, Dravid explained that the role of the support staff is restricted to giving players' the best environment to succeed in. "The support staff can't bat, bowl or catch for you. That's why sometimes being in the support staff or being a coach is a no-win situation because you might be giving the guys the best possible advise and the best possible training facilities but things don't work in the field. You can still drop catches, you can still have technical issues with the bat. Coaches can't solve everything and as good players, deep down, you know that. "
With virtually an all-Indian support staff now in charge, there has been talk that the BCCI will consider only home-grown coaches going forward. Dravid believes that while Indian coaches are coming up and getting exposure in the IPL, nationality should never be a factor in deciding on the right personnel for the job. "What the team needs at the time they should get," he said.
As a player, Dravid has worked with Shastri before, and said his positive personality should benefit the team. Recalling the period after the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies when he was captain and Shastri came in as interim manager after India's first-round exit, Dravid said: "I thought Ravi was very good in the time that he was there with the team. He's obviously got a lot of experience that he has to offer as a player. By personality he's a very positive, outgoing, upbeat kind of person, which can really help the team. His personality can help a lot of the younger players because they do respect him and what he's done for the game."
Gaurav Kalra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo. @gauravkalra75