Ravi Shastri has always been the crisis man in Indian cricket. When India faltered at the 2007 World Cup and Greg Chappell resigned after the tournament, he was given interim charge with an eye on resurrection. In 2014, when India were rolled over in the Tests in, he was appointed team director, yet again for a course correction. Through his seven-year stint, with a mini break when Anil Kumble took over for a year, Shastri oversaw India’s rise, especially in the longest format.
Under Shastri as head coach andas captain, India progressed from being the seventh-ranked Test team in the world to win back-to-back Test series in Australia and take a 2-1 lead in England before the final Test was postponed. On the day of his farewell, the outgoing head coach turned emotional.
Shastri refused to draw any comparison between Tests and ICC events, saying all the tournaments/series that India play are important. But he cited bubble fatigue, with the players on the road for six months now.
“This is one of the great teams in the history of the game, absolutely no doubt in my mind. Unfortunately, we are out of this tournament, but that takes nothing away from a great side,” he said at the post-match press conference.
Shastri didn’t offer any excuse for India’s poor performance at this T20 World Cup but said that bubble life could be mentally draining. “You are not switched on as you should be. This is not an excuse. Because in trying to win, you will lose a game. Here we didn’t try to win, because the x-factor – the players were mentally and physically drained – wasn’t there.”
Bubble life could have affected even Don Bradman was his observation. “I don’t read too much into Virat’s form. I don’t care who the player is. If you put even Don Bradman in the bubble, his average will come down. Eventually, the bubble will burst.”
Shastri agreed that a short break between the Indian Premier League and the T20 World Cup might have helped the team, but hoped it would win an ICC title – “the only missing piece” – in the near future, under new head coach. “They will get the rub of the green.”
He thanked former BCCI president N Srinivasan for giving him the opportunity to coach India and dropped a hint that his future might lie in TV commentary again, where he made his name before coming to coaching. “We won back-to-back (Test) series in Australia. We took the lead in England and it could be the longest lead in history (with the final Test deferred to next year). I might be commentating on that Test,” Shastri said.
He also thanked outgoing bowling coach Bharat Arun for building a great attack and outgoing fielding coach R Sridhar for making the team’s fielding standard world-class.