Shastri backs decision to rest Dravid
Former Indian batsman Ravi Shastri has supported the move to rest Rahul Dravid for the first two one-dayers against Pakistan, saying senior players must be preserved for India's tour of Australia later this year. He also said the Test captaincy, vacant since Dravid gave it up after the tour of England, should be handed to Sachin Tendulkar.
"The fact that Dravid has been dropped for two one-dayers does not mean the end of his one-day career." Shastri told the Dubai-based Gulf News. "We would need his experience for the Australian tour. For the amount of cricket that is being played, we will need about 20 to 25 players who are fit all the time. They need to be given exposure and the team-building for the 2011 World Cup should start right away."
Dravid endured a lean trot in the seven-match one-day series against Australia at home and has averaged 8.88 in his last ten matches. There have been widespread calls for phasing out the seniors especially after a young Indian team, under a new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, won the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa and comprehensively beat Australia in the one-off Twenty20 international in Mumbai.
Though Dhoni was subsequently appointed the one-day captain as well, Shastri felt that saddling him with the additional responsibility of the Test captaincy could backfire on him. India lost the one-dayers against Australia 2-4.
"To be a wicketkeeper in a Test match, concentrating on every ball over a period of five days, is not easy," Shastri said. "If he is given the responsibility of captaining the team as well, it will be a heavy burden on him."
Though Tendulkar has had two largely forgettable stints as captain - the first between 1996 and 1997 and the second in the 1999-00 season - Shastri felt a third stint wouldn't be a step backwards for India, given Tendulkar's stature among the younger players.
"Tendulkar is the right choice. He is a certainty in the side and he commands tremendous respect from all the team-mates. He may not be a natural leader but, unlike when he previously led the country, he now has many experienced players around him."
Shastri had recently taken over a new role as the chairman of the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. Since Greg Chappell's resignation as India's coach, the team is yet to have the services of a full-time coach, with Chandu Borde and Lalchand Rajput serving as Cricket Managers on an interim basis. Shastri himself served as the manager during India's tour of Bangladesh after the World Cup.
With the Indian board still undecided on whether to appoint a coach or continue with the existing arrangement, Shastri felt it was important for India to appoint one quickly.
"India does need a coach. It is not a question of whether he has to be an Indian or a foreigner. What we need is the right man for the job, someone who has excellent man management skills and is in tune with the modern trends of the game."