Shastri, Ganguly Should Have Minded their Own Language 

In the whole episode, the BCCI has come out in a poor light as this controversy could have been avoided.

Published
Opinion
4 min read
(Photo: Reuters)

Ravi Shastri feels that Sourav Ganguly has been disrespectful to the process of selecting the national chief cricket coach by staying out of the interview board when he made his presentation. The latter responded by asking why Shastri was not present in person.

Both used words that ought to have been kept out of civil conversations, but each wanted to prove that the other was cheeky.

Understandably, Shastri is disappointed at not getting the job after– in his own words– making a decent job of it as India’s team director in the “difficult last 18 months”.

The board’s advisory committee of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, with former board secretary and Madhya Pradesh captain Sanjay Jagdale as convenor, felt that former captain Anil Kumble was better suited for the job than Shastri and others who had applied.

In the entire episode, the board has come out in a poor light. It could have avoided the controversy by simply asking Shastri and Ganguly to choose a time convenient for both.

The Cricket Advisory Committee that decided the head coach comprised of Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman. (Photo: Reuters)
The Cricket Advisory Committee that decided the head coach comprised of Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman. (Photo: Reuters)

BCCI at Fault

Whatever happened to the board’s media team, with all its high profile members? It was their job to tell the media about the process. There was so much speculation about who faced the interview board. Also, speculation about whether Kumble applied before the 10 June deadline could have been avoided if only the media committee had released the shortlist of 21– if not the full list of 57 applicants.

By all accounts, the most impressive credentials should have been that of Australian Tom Moody, but over the years the board has developed an aversion to foreign coaches bringing their own support staff, ignoring Indians who were thought to be better suited to the job.

That left only Shastri and Kumble in the contention as Sandip Patil would not have received the unanimous approval of all three members because of his history. The board may also have asked him to stay away as he is the chief selector.

Ganguly was present when the juniors faced the selection panel and apparently left the room just as Shastri was about to appear. The system collapsed, and the Supreme Court received the leverage to take the board to task and insist on the implementation of the Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee recommendations for overhauling the board’s governance.

The statements of both Shastri and Ganguly, both of whom are known for their leadership qualities, were immature, even if their dislike for each other is no secret to some.

Yes, Shastri is believed to have pipped Ganguly to the post last time and the undercurrent was evident when both were involved in different capacities this time.

There is a school of thought that believes that Ganguly did not lose out the last time because of Shastri’s manipulation, but he was told that he was needed to run the Cricket Association of Bengal in view of the deteriorating health of Jagmohan Dalmiya.

While Shastri is acceptable to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the limited-overs captain, and Test captain Virat Kohli, the two India skippers like Kumble just as much, so it was a toss up between the two. Now the logic comes into play.

The two Indian skippers, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni look forward to working with Anil Kumble. (Photo: Reuters)
The two Indian skippers, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni look forward to working with Anil Kumble. (Photo: Reuters)

Two of the selection panel members shared the dressing room with Shastri as players in their formative years while all three played alongside Kumble. So there couldn’t be any real bad blood among them.

Going just by personal preferences, Tendulkar should have gone with Shastri, who was the go-between him and the late Mark Masceranhas, his first marketing agent who promoted him in a big way. But that does not mean he would have argued against Kumble.

The board president cannot talk like a politician, saying that the whole exercise of selecting the new coach was transparent without revealing that Ganguly was not present when Shastri was interviewed. It was left to Shastri to reveal the information.

Sadly, even active cricketers have jumped in to express their views. When the board carries all sorts of inspired interviews with cricketers on its website, denying hard-working reporters access to them, how come it is in such a munificent mood about players attacking those involved?

All those who sang paeans for Shastri are now gung ho about taking the field under Kumble. The batsmen think Kumble, as a bowler, is in a better position to help them and the bowlers feel their ability will go up a notch under his attentive eye.

That’s way to go in Indian cricket!

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist and the views expressed are personal. He can be reached at sveturi@gmail.com)

(This article was published in an arrangement with IANS)

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