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Shastri Remains The Chosen One As India’s Head Coach

An impressive success rate and solid understanding with captain Virat Kohli helped Ravi Shastri extend his reign as the India head coach for a further two years, up to the 2021 T20 World Cup in India. After interviewing the five candidates for the job—a sixth, former West Indies opener Phil Simmons, pulled out of the race earlier in the day—at the BCCI office on Friday, the three-member committee of Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy declared that Shastri was chosen unanimously as the best candidate for the most high pressure coaching job in world cricket.

The chairman of the coach-selection committee, Dev, said it was a close call between Shastri, Australia’s Tom Moody, and “Mike (Hesson), an intelligent, young boy from New Zealand (who) was a close second.”

“We had a marking system, out of 100 and each of us gave our respective markings and then added the total to decide on the best candidate,” said Dev. “We never discussed which one of us gave how many marks.”

The committee looked at five parameters: coaching philosophy, experience of coaching, achievements in coaching, communication and knowledge of modern coaching tools.
Shastri, who is in the West Indies with the Indian team, was the last candidate to be interviewed. He appeared via a Skype call. His interview and presentation lasted around 40 minutes, where it is learnt that the India coach did most of the talking, speaking in detail about the team’s performance under him and his vision for the next two years.

The CAC’s main question to him was about the lack of stability in the middle-order in the limited-overs team. While explaining to the committee how he planned to find the right balance in the middle order, Shastri is learnt to have said how it was important that the coach be consulted by the selection committee in the picking of the squad.

Moody, Hesson, and the two other candidates, Lalchand Rajput and Robin Singh, gave interviews during the first half of the day. Asked if captain Virat Kohli’s opinion was sought, Dev said, “Certainly not. Agar unko puchte toh puree team ko puchte (If we would have asked Kohli, then we would have taken the opinion of the whole team).

Kohli had earlier backed the idea of retaining Shastri as the coach, speaking at a press conference before the team left for the Caribbean.

This will be Shastri’s fourth stint with the team. During his current term as head coach since July 2017, India have won 13 of 21 Tests, including a historic series win against Australia in Australia. In T20Is India have won 25 out of 36 matches while in ODIs, it’s 43 out of 60.

Shastri first came on board in 2007 as cricket manager for the tour of Bangladesh when Greg Chappell was sacked after India’s group stage exit in the World Cup that year. He was appointed director of cricket in the wake of the 3-1 Test series loss in England in 2014, when Duncan Fletcher was head coach, a position he held till the 2016 World Twenty20 where India lost to West Indies in the semi-final.

Former India coach Gaekwad said Shastri had the edge over others because he was well versed with the current team set-up.

“I think basically being the current coach, knowing the boys well, knowing the problems well in the team, what needs to be done, I think he is well versed with the entire system, where the others were not,” Gaekwad said.
“They probably had to start (afresh). So somebody knows the system and knows the players very well, can communicate well, I think he has the advantage.”

“All of them gave a presentation of the way forward and we weighed in with the past performances, that’s why we picked Shastri,” said Rangaswamy, the former India women’s captain.

Dev said ideally, the three member coach-selection committee should also have a say in deciding on the support staff.
“We have a given a letter to the BCCI about it.”

The selection of the batting and bowling coaches and other backroom staff will be done by the MSK Prasad-led team selection committee on August 19.

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