India in England 2014 September 8, 2014

Shastri backs Fletcher's skills as coach

Ravi Shastri, who was appointed India's team director in the wake of the 3-1 defeat in the Test series in England, said he was proud of how the team bounced back to claim the ODIs by the same margin.

Reviewing his role and India's limited-overs performance, Shastri also credited the support staff, including head coach Duncan Fletcher, whose future has been hotly debated in light of India suffering a second successive Test series loss in England under his watch.

"I got more than I would have expected," Shastri said. "I say that only because England's record at home, not many sides have thrashed them 3-1 in a four-match ODI series. It is a big achievement, from what they were mentally after the Test series defeat, and then, to respond in that fashion made me feel proud."

Despite his abrupt appointment, senior players like MS Dhoni, the India captain, and Suresh Raina said Shastri's positive mind-set played a crucial role in keeping the dressing room upbeat during the ODI series.

Shastri was quite visible during the training sessions as he ran around the ground overseeing the players' drills and would pass on his observations during private chats. "I had a plenty of one-on-one chats," he said. "Not sessions. I was not afraid to speak to a guy individually. Ground, bus, bar, dressing room, while eating, we were talking cricket."

Shastri had made it clear that he would oversee everything during the ODI series and everyone would report to him, including Fletcher and Dhoni. That had raised further questions on Fletcher's future but Sanjay Patel, the BCCI secretary, had told ESPNcricinfo that nothing had been decided on the matter. Some board officials, though, believed Fletcher's job was hanging in the balance and Shastri's report on the ODI series might prove the difference.

"Fletcher is the coach," Shastri said. "He looks over the handling of various things including little, little stuff. He is tremendous. He would have done over a 100 Tests as a coach, which is massive. He is very good. He is technically very sound. He is a solid character. He is respected. He is a fatherly figure. Let the media say what they want. I have told you what I thought of Fletcher. I will go back and speak with the BCCI."

Shastri was also impressed by the trio of Sanjay Bangar, B Arun and R Sridhar, who were brought in as part of the coaching staff at his request. "All three of them have done an excellent job in the short period they have been given. I have to go back and sit with the BCCI to discuss what will happen in the long term."

Shastri, however, was non-committal when asked if he would be open to a similar role in a tournament like the World Cup. "My job was to be with the team for the ODI series. They have won it. I want to let that sink. I will return to India and then think about the future."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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