India’s support staff changes should have come after their tour of England, says Rahul Dravid

"There's still not a lot of clarity on whether this is a long term appointment"

“There’s still not a lot of clarity on whether this is a long term appointment”

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Legendary India batsman Rahul Dravid believes that the national team’s support staff changes should have come after their ongoing tour of England since it is “tough on everyone concerned”.

India recently appointed former captain Ravi Shastri as their director of cricket for the upcoming ODI series against England. Shastri wasted no time in flexing his muscles as he told bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Trevor Penney to take a break. Immediately after, Shastri called up Sanjay Bangar, Bharat Arun and Ramakrishnan Sridhar as their replacements.

However, Dravid believes that these mid-series changes may cause more confusion than anything else since the Indian players are accustomed to having Dawes and Penney around.

“You don’t have problems if people want to make changes, it’s part of professional sport. [But] there’s still not a lot of clarity on whether this is a long term appointment or the changes we have seen are for this series, so there’s a bit of confusion around that,” Dravid told ESPNcricinfo. “Sometimes from a players’ perspective that can be quite hard. I hope that’s something Ravi [Shastri] will handle quite well. All these players also build relationships with support staff and as players you do recognise that at some level you are actually responsible for your own success and failure.”

Head coach Duncan Fletcher’s job has also been under close scrutiny following the national team’s 3-1 thrashing in the recently concluded five-Test series. But, Shastri decided to let him continue coaching India instead of allowing him to share the same fate as Dawes and Penney.

During his brief stint as India’s mentor, which came prior to the start of the Test series, Dravid stated that Fletcher got on well with all the players.

“If you ask me, I think he’s got a lot of knowledge and I know having been around the team that the team does respect him and a lot of them get along very well with him and do ask him for a lot of technical advice,” Dravid said. “There is a good rapport between him and Dhoni.”

With the ODI series set to begin on August 25 in Bristol, Dravid is confident that Shastri and Fletcher will ensure India are well prepared for the series.

“Knowing the kind of people that they are, they would not want to ensure that the players see that there is an issue between them,” he said. “Like Ravi says, Duncan will still be the head coach, he will still be running the team meetings and be involved in the selection of the playing eleven. So I hope there is no issue.”

Dravid also pointed out that people cannot place a majority of the blame on the coaching staff for India’s performance in the Test series since they can only do so much in making sure the team are prepared and accustomed to the conditions.

“The support staff can’t bat, bowl or catch for you,” he said. “That’s why sometimes being in the support staff or being a coach is a no-win situation because you might be giving the guys the best possible advise and the best possible training facilities but things don’t work in the field. You can still drop catches, you can still have technical issues with the bat. Coaches can’t solve everything and as good players, deep down, you know that.”

With the support staff now virtually consisting of Indians, there are rumours and speculation surfacing that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are planning to have a local coach take over Fletcher’s role as head coach.

But, Dravid stated that nationality should not be a factor in deciding who is right for the position as head coach.

The 41-year-old batting icon also recalled how Shastri had a positive impact on the team when he was their manager during the 2007 World Cup, in which Dravid was captaining the national team.

“I thought Ravi was very good in the time that he was there with the team. He’s obviously got a lot of experience that he has to offer as a player,” Dravid said. “By personality he’s a very positive, outgoing, upbeat kind of person, which can really help the team. His personality can help a lot of the younger players because they do respect him and what he’s done for the game.”

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