Shastri offered manager cum coach, Chappell NCA consultant April 6, 2007

Dravid likely to remain captain



Rahul Dravid: set to stay on as captain © Getty Images

At the end of a long day of infinite rumour and speculation it has emerged that Rahul Dravid is set to stay on as India captain and Ravi Shastri has been offered the role of coach/cricket manager for next month's tour of Bangladesh, sources in the Board of Control for Cricket in India confirmed to Cricinfo.

The BCCI's high-level meeting at the Wankhede Stadium to discuss India's performance at the World Cup also saw Greg Chappell being offered the post of consultant at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.

In news that has yet to be confirmed it was also learnt that Robin Singh, the former India allrounder, could have a role to play as an assistant or fielding coach. Sources also revealed that while this was the arrangement for the Bangladesh tour, there could be further specific appointments - separate batting, bowling and fielding coaches - with Shastri taking on an overseeing role as cricket manager in the long term.

Shastri has asked the BCCI for a day to clear existing contractual obligations and commitments - he is contracted with ESPN-Star - but did say that it "would be an honour to serve Indian cricket."

"For the years you have played the game and the years you have been part of the media, I do believe I have the experience to contribute," said Shastri. "You are not going to change the team overnight and I do not believe this Indian team can be bad in seven days. I don't think this Indian team can be a very good team in 14 days. There is lot that can be done to make sure that the path is being set for the team to move forward."

All these proposals and/or decisions must be ratified by the working committee, which meets tomorrow, to become effective.

Dravid's decision to accept the captaincy, revealed by sources in the BCCI, sets at rest speculation that he considered giving up the captaincy following India's dismal showing in the World Cup and the subsequent decision of Chappell to not seek an extension of his contract as India coach.

This also puts to rest the strong rumours that the Sachin Tendulkar was likely to make a comeback as captain of the Indian team. Several media outlets have quoted senior players, off the record, as backing Tendulkar to lead the team. There were also suggestions that Tendulkar would meet with Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, to put forth the grievances of the senior players but that did not materialise.

All through a searingly hot day in Mumbai, the names doing the rounds for various posts changed every hour, as the media, camped out in large numbers outside the Cricket Centre of the BCCI office, clung on to every rumour and every bit of information that filtered through.

In addition to suggestions for having a specific structure of specialised coached assisting the team, it is understood that Dravid also stressed on the need to put other support systems in place. Aside from putting forward his suggestions on what personnel would be ideally suited to take the team forward, Dravid suggested a more streamlined selection process, better team management with the appointment of a full-time team manager and a full-time media manager.

The media release issued by the board only said that Dravid "told the committee that his team has left for the World Cup with high hopes but failed to do well. Rahul accepted responsibility on behalf of the team for the poor performance which led to [an] early exit from the World Cup."

The afternoon session saw seven former captains of India meeting board officials where, it is understood, there was no specific discussion on individual players, the performance of the team in the World Cup or the performance of Chappell as coach. Instead, the captains, who had come to the meeting prepared with a series of points, looked forward to what needed to be done to improve the health of Indian cricket in general.

"This was one of the most constructive meetings I have ever attended with the board," one of the captains told Cricinfo. "We discussed some crucial aspects; one of the keys was strengthening junior cricket. I don't want to give too many specific details, but here's one example: Tiger Pataudi spoke of how players learned how to dive and anticipate in fielding when they were 15, and not 25, so more focus needed to be given to the quality of coaching, umpiring and wickets at that level, so that no aaltu-faltu cricketers come through to the highest level."

Anand Vasu is associate editor of Cricinfo

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