India’s director of cricket, Ravi Shastri, has announced that he is working on building a good relationship with the national selectors ahead of the India’s tour of Australia and the 2015 World Cup.
Shastri will continue on as the team’s director of cricket until the end of the World Cup after India pummelled England 3-1 in the recent ODI series.
“I have already started talking to them [the selection committee] and we have no issues on that,” he said. “My job is not to select an Indian cricket team, it is their job, but my job is to at least communicate with them and see on what lines they are [thinking] so that we both are on the same page.
“Probably discuss talent, discuss what would be the kind of team you need in Australia. See, combinations are very important. You have got to identify your strengths and see who are the right people to manage those roles and areas of your strengths. That importantly comes up with the team. Prime importance, I believe, will always be given to current form. I think form is very important.
“My job is to communicate with whoever is there and I will not take a step back. At the moment, I have been communicating with all the five.”
Explaining more about his role, Shastri noted that he will use his years of experience on the field and in the commentary box to help youngsters and new talents that come into the side.
“My job [as director] is to ensure that everything is in order,” he said. “It’s not just about communicating with the players. It’s also about giving your views, your inputs as a former player, and as a broadcaster. I’ve watched more cricket than I’ve played. So there’s enough in this upper-storey here (pointing to his forehead) that can be used before I forget it.
“That’s what I tell the players. Don’t be afraid to ask me questions, because there’s enough there for me to be able to contribute. Yes, obviously you’ll have to have a dialogue with the selectors as to where they’re coming from and what their train of thought is. What we feel as part of the Indian cricket team, so that there’s healthy communication and you get something that’s best for the Indian cricket team.”
When asked if head coach Duncan Fletcher has accepted the changes made to his support staff, Shastri said: “Absolutely, he is brilliant. He is a seasoned campaigner. He has over 100 Test matches as a coach for various teams. The good thing is Fletch and me go a long way back. We know each other. I captained the U-25 team against Zimbabwe in 1984 when he was the captain of Zimbabwe. He has got a fabulous track record. It is how we use the knowledge that he has in the best possible way and communicate with the players.”
Shastri also made it clear that captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is still running the show.
“The boss is the captain on the cricket field,” he said. “I am in charge of the coaching staff. That’s put into place. My job is to oversee things and see things go all right. Who cares who’s the boss? At the end of the day, you win and to hell with it, yaar. Jisko boss banna hai bano. [Whoever wants to be the boss, let him do so].”
While Shastri believes that Test cricket needs Twenty20 cricket to survive, he also feels that there are too many lengthy bilateral ODI and Twenty20 series nowadays.
“If you look at cricket per say, if you didn’t have T20 cricket, Test cricket will die,” he said. “People don’t realise. You just play Test cricket, and don’t play one-day cricket and T20 cricket, and speak to me after 10 years. The economics will just not allow the game to survive.
“You need that injection by the way of T20 cricket. How do you balance it out? Now, is there any need for bilateral T20s? I don’t think so. No need for these one-off T20 matches. Pointless. Yes, you want one-day cricket. Even that can be reduced. You don’t have to play five-five matches in a series. Keep the emphasis on World Cups, both in T20s and the 50-over formats. Then let your domestic competitions thrive.”
The former captain added that he will be supporting the Indian team throughout their upcoming ODI tri-series against Australia and England. However, he also said that he intends to use the time between Tests in the four-Test series against the Baggy Greens to watch a few domestic matches.
“That’s where I am going to divide my time leading into the World Cup,” he said. “That’s why I’ve said I’m going to be in and out during this one-day series. Even during the tour of Australia, if there is some big domestic game happening here, and if I feel there’s a need for someone who’s been there, [I will watch].
“The team is cut-off. The captain, the coaching staff will be cut-off from what’s happening here. It won’t be a bad idea for someone to come back, watch a couple of games and then head back. There are gaps between Test matches, and you can make the most of it.”
With India set to play four five-Test series against England and numerous four-Test series against Australia between 2015 and 2023, Shastri feels that there should be no more than three Tests in each series nowadays.
“I believe that tours should be only three Tests,” he said. “With the amount of these things that is taking place, you will find that once you go for five-Test match series, 80-90% of the times the home team will win and you will see teams going straight down after the third match.
“You saw what happened to England during the Ashes in Australia. I am a firm believer that, in the future, just keep all Test series to three because imagine a side coming to India and they are three-zip down after three Test matches…how much interest is there?
“I am looking at all round, I am looking at a bigger picture, I am looking at the crowd sitting and watching, I am looking at television ratings, I am looking at the way the game is going to the future and how you sustain interest from people who want to watch it and follow it. I firmly believe Test series should never be two Test matches, three is enough. Five, Australia-England for tradition is fine. But I still think five is too much.”