India coach Ravi Shastri, in an exclusive interview to Wisden, spoke about how the cricketing season in the autumn will be one of India's toughest home season years. The ex-India international also spoke about the misinterpretation of BCCI’s role, player associations and more in a candid interview.
On being asked if the New Zealand, England, Australia tours will be make or break for some cricketers, Shastri did not mince words. “Could be. Like you rightly mentioned, it’s probably the toughest home season in many years, because you’ve got teams with a lot of talent and with a lot of all-round skills. So even if we’re at home, we will have to be right on top of our game.”
With his contract expiring soon, Ravi Shastri was asked about the possibility of continuing his stint with the cricket team. “See, it is a very challenging job. It has been a very enjoyable job. It is a very important moment in Indian cricket. When the moment is important, Ravi Shastri is the last one to back away. So if you’re asking if my hat is in the ring, it is in there. Maybe three hats,” said the 53-year old.
But it was the topic of BCCI that seemed to rub Shastri the wrong way. “That shocks me. Because people keep telling me that you are the mouthpiece of the BCCI. I ask, what’s wrong with you guys? If I am what I am today, it’s because of the opportunities I got from the time I was a young guy. And nothing has changed. The IPL is a BCCI product. When a youngster gets in there, it is an opportunity, a platform given by the parent body.
“And you are right. No board in the world has done as much for the players as the BCCI. And this is not just now. It goes back 20 years, when you had the benevolent fund. The pension thing started about eight years ago. And then the one-time benefits. People say ‘players’ association’. I ask why you need one when the board really looks after you,” he added.
Before going on to add, “The grass is always greener on the other side. You might feel, from a players’ point of view, something more should come. From the board’s point of view, that’s enough. But the only way you can sort it out is through proper dialogue. And it has happened. In the last two or three years, there has been no issue whatsoever. You tell me of one player who has complained in the last eight to ten years. They might say the board could do better. So, coming to your question, I am amazed. Either someone doesn’t want to write the truth or …”
When asked if there was a need for player organisations to give the players a greater voice and thus a better medium to channelize their opinions, Shastri was not willing to budge. “I won’t say a players’ association as such is needed. You need a committee, with people of credibility and integrity. You don’t need too many. You need just three people, who can interact between the board and the players. Where’s the need for an association? When it comes to money matters, when it comes to looking after the players, I think the BCCI have done a fabulous job, which is absolutely misinterpreted in the media. Absolutely misinterpreted. You tell me one player who has complained in the last, maybe, ten years,” concluded Shastri.
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