Until Anil Kumble entered the fray, Ravi Shastri was rightfully the front-runner for the role of the Indian cricket team's coach. Shastri said he was “extremely disappointed” that he was not given a chance to take the hard work forward but refrained from commenting on the selection process.
Shastri had been the Indian team's director since 2014, and it was under him that India registered many memorable victories in Tests including an away series win against Sri Lanka after 22 years, and a 3-0 whitewash of South Africa at home.
India also reached the semi-finals at the 2015 ODI World Cup and 2016 World T20, regained the No.1 status in Test cricket, and completed a 3-0 whitewash of Australia in T20s in Australia apart from the ODI series win in England. All these achievements, along with his popularity in the Indian dressing room, had put Shastri in a shoo-in position for the role–until Kumble jumped in.
In an exclusive to The Hindu, Shastri said, “At that moment of time I was obviously disappointed; but today is a new day and life carries on; as simple as that.
“I am disappointed because I had put in so much hard work. I had given my everything. And what was great to see were the results that were produced in those 18 months across all formats.
“The results did not surprise me; they were way above my expectations. For them [the players] to up the ante quickly, across all formats and jump up the ladder made it heartening and made me a proud person.
“I am proud of the boys; once again I am disappointed because of the hard work put in and the time was there now to take it forward, play even better cricket...but there is no opportunity for me now.
“But such is life. You take a knock on the chin and move on. When the sun rises the next day, it’s a different day.”
Shastri clearly appears to have felt let down by the BCCI, and it showed when he said, “I did a role after India’s awful showing in the 2007 World Cup. The team was in turmoil and I was asked to take over for the tour of Bangladesh. We had great results on that tour as well.
“He [Kumble] called up yesterday [Thursday]. He has a great team; he said that. I wish him all the luck.
“It would be great if he can take it forward,” reported the Hindu.
When asked if the selection process put in was the right way, Shastri said: “I don’t want to comment on that. I am above all that. When asked to do a job, I did that. I applied for the post when the BCCI advertised,” reported the Hindu.
Shastri was clear on his future plans now that the Plan A was out saying he will go back to the commentary box. “That’s what I do best. I will take a break now and evaluate what’s on hand.”
He may not have landed the role, but Shastri has contributed to Indian cricket immensely at a crucial juncture managing the big egos in the dressing room, taking India deep into tournaments, and being there for the Phase-1 of the transition from MS Dhoni to Virat Kohli. While his skill on the cricketing field back then and at the helm of the Indian team are undebatable, his return to the commentary box, however, would evoke mixed reactions from cricket fans!
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