India in England 2014 August 20, 2014

'People would have accepted 3-1 if there was a little more fight'


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Ravi Shastri: "I know I can contribute"

What made you take up this assignment?

It was an important time in Indian cricket. When asked I thought about it and then said, "fine". The state of Indian cricket is such that I know I can contribute. I have never been scared about how tough the job is or how easy the job is. The important thing is the contribution. If I am here today, and at times some forget, it is because of the BCCI. The platform they gave me when I was a junior cricketer to play for my state and then the country.

What is your role exactly?

My role is to oversee everything. All of them report to me. This is for the ODI series in England.

What about Duncan Fletcher. Would he be sidelined?

Absolutely not. He stays as the head coach. And these two (Sanjay Bangar and B Arun) will be his assistants.

Did you have a chat with MS Dhoni and Fletcher?

I spent about two hours with them (on Tuesday). We had a chat about where things are at the moment, how things have to be addressed, and how important communication will be.

Were there any reservations you had before taking up the job?

I had no reservations about the job. I insisted on the coaching staff I wanted. I went (for domestic Indian coaches) because I felt they can contribute.

What were the reasons you felt India failed in the Test series?

If you put it down to one word - inexperience. If you calculate the number of Test matches played by the XI as opposed to some of the tours where we fared worse, here we at least won a Test match. We did not win a Test in 1974 (3-0) and were whitewashed on the last tour here with some of the biggest names (in the team). So if you calculate the number of Test caps between this unit and some of the other units that have come (in the past), it is chalk and cheese.

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.

When you say spineless, what went missing?

Spineless means stomach for a fight. People would have accepted 3-1 if there was a little more fight. The conditions what you saw here, barring the first Test, every track had serious juice on it. When I evaluate everything I put it down to inexperience. When they come back to England (next time) they would be better players.

People can be judgmental, but we have not played a five-Test match series in a long time. When you play five Test matches in 40 days your fitness gets exposed. But if you are inexperienced it comes to the fore. What does experience do? It builds your mental strength - when you are down, you can still recover. But here when you lack the experience and when you get hammered, or you have two or three innings where you don't do well, then you go downhill straight.

What is the message you want to send to the players?

My challenge is for the boys to enjoy themselves, play freely and express themselves. Work hard and use the cricket ground as a vehicle to express yourselves and play aggressively.

What was the most disappointing thing for you about the Indian teams's failure in Test series?

My only disappointment was players at times making the same mistake. That disappointed me. Everyone makes a mistake, but you want to try something different. Like [Alastair] Cook. He changed his stance, stood a foot outside the crease. You need to try something different instead of getting out the same way.

After the Tests series defeat you went hard on the players in your newspaper column: "Sit back and watch if these glam boys are ready for penance. If they are prepared to plunge their bare hands into the coal of fire and start from scratch." What exactly did you mean?

I was hard on [Cheteshwar] Pujara and [Virat] 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. Rahul Dravid in 1999 in Australia - he could not get a run. It has happened to Sunny (Gavaskar) in 1981 in Australia. Now the true test of their (Pujara and Kohli) 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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 22, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    Hmmmmm Mr.Shastri and all other

  • Android on August 21, 2014, 15:53 GMT

    I don't think ravi shastri can turn d fortunes of the Indian team overnight. hope he makes d team fight more even in loss

  • Santhosh on August 21, 2014, 11:00 GMT

    I hope Ravi sir will do his job for the team needed, Now first thing India has to concentrate on odi, we want to see 5-0, atleat 4-1 is better to show our strength, a billion people is behind you, we cheer for every victories, but when we lose badly it hurts lot, in 5th test match some players played very badly they know they are going to lose the test match still they gave up easily.. there was no fight in the players, If ur playing for your country you must give 100% no matter at what situation you are in atleast give fight thats what we need to see, There might be a lot of sports but still people in India love cricket, Give 100% for every game and do well in odi series, give some confidence that we can win in overseas matches..

  • Satish on August 21, 2014, 10:46 GMT

    At the end of the day its players who has to perform....I don't think Ravi's appointment will make any difference.

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    Prior to the commencement of this series, I gave my prediction, 3-1 win for England in these columns. It has now come true. The reason I gave that prediction was the way players ego has been expanded mainly due to IPL and games back home in India. The players had no idea of their personal SWOT coming to England. Then the win at Lords magnified their egos too much with no one to tell them that Poms will try to bounce back hard, and which they did. With no clear match SWOT analysis and more of reactive planning rather than proactive, the boys went from loss to loss. look at Sri Lanka, they lost the coach to England and that was a blessing in disguise. Lanka won 1-0 in England. Though they lost 1-0 to South Africa, in a game where due to tampered cricket ball South Africa seam attack got prodigious swing to scuttle the Lankan side for low score, then hid under the table to draw the second. Then Lanka won 2-0 against Pakistan without foreign coach. India have faith on home talent to coach

  • Titus on August 21, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    This is a frank opinion by Mr. Ravi Shastri. Hope he can instill some sort of confidence in the boys, to win some matches if not the ODI series. All the Best Sir!!

  • Nav on August 21, 2014, 3:37 GMT

    "People would have accepted 3-1 if there was a little more fight." - That is the end of the story. We cricket fan don't expect India to win all matches in foreign conditions since we know that it is difficult beat someone at their home ground. But at the same time we know that our team is enough to pose a challenge to the opposition. It is ok to lose without fighting. But when it happens every match, we get humiliated, the country gets humiliated. The players should feel the pride to represent India. They should not allow the opposition to humiliate their country. It is a shame that our players did it. So I stopped watching India's tests. And I believe India will lose many fans if they repeat the mistake.

  • c on August 21, 2014, 1:08 GMT

    Hmmm.... Ravi puts IND recent loss in ENG down to INEXPERIENCE and then gives an example of how the LAST TOUR in ENG had some of the BIGGEST NAMES in IND cricket and they LOST! Wow. Ya, he'll fix things! GOOD luck.

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    the title of the page says it all.. we as fans would have accepted the defeat if the team would have shown some fight. This is absolute surrender and felt like watching those matches from 90's when there is no one up to take on and fight. Well said Mr. Shastri. I hope there is a turn around in tests sooner rather than later

  • Santanu on August 20, 2014, 19:58 GMT

    I hope Ravi's optimism comes true. What bothers me is that the flaws in technique that were on display appear to be quite fundamental -- techniques which should have been learned when one is 16 or 17 have not been mastered. These flaws are not the players' shortcomings but shortcomings of the cricketing establishment in Inda, particularly of late. If India is serious about Test Cricket, new players may be required.

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