The immediate reaction to India Test captain Virat Kohli saying that Ravi Shastri’a presence as the team director is a massive boost to the side was whether it was timed to get the former India all-rounder an extension.
One thought Kohli had no business to go public on an appointment which clearly does not fall under his domain. At best he could have discreetly conveyed his preference to the bigwigs in the board.
To be fair to the online magazine, it stated how and where the interview was conducted, but did not say about the timing unless they kept it for the opportune moment.
It is ingenious of the magazine to release the interview it had conducted during the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Kohli expressed his opinion on Shastri’s role on the tour of Australia soon after it ended.
Call it design or accident, the day after the website flashed the interview, the Indian cricket board made the announcement appointing Shastri as director for the tour to Bangladesh.
It is natural to think that Kohli was unabashedly plugging for Shastri, though both were embarrassed and upset at the lengthy quotes were made to look oven-fresh.
Kohli is not the first captain or a senior player to have his own mind. Almost all India coaches have been appointed after consultations with the khalifas in the side. Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly played no mean part not only in the appointment of overseas coaches but also getting some of their Indian counterparts sacked. Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar were the point men of the board in scouting for the coach.
The senior players successfully pleaded with the board brass to keep certain players out suspecting their commitment to the team’s cause. In a couple of cases they even stated that their presence is vitiating the dressing room atmosphere. The board accepted it without confronting the alleged suspects.
Kohli did not make it appear an off guard off-the-cuff remark. What is even more galling was that Kohli went on and on extolling Shastri’s virtues as if he was seriously making a case for him to be retained as team director.
“He is a guy who does not shy away from responsibility. He is someone who takes the blows on the chin. He keeps moving forward,” is his telling quote about Shastri.
He did not stop there. He listed some of Shastri’s traits, which read like a testimony to him, though it could not have been his brief as captain.
His acclamation of Shastri as the most amazing person to be with the young team at this juncture and the respect the players have for him leaves no one in doubt his intention.
Citing how he himself benefited in Australia by Shastri’s tip of taking guard outside the crease when he was repeatedly failing in England because of technical ineptitude, Kohli did not leave anything for imagination how fond he is of the former India captain.
The operative part is says that Kohli was speaking to the magazine after Shastri’s tenure had ended, following the World Cup. Shastri’s CV was complete when Kohli recalled that someone who has played for over a decade and scored hundreds as an opener after starting at No. 11 early in his career.
Kohli also did not forget to mention his idol Rahul Dravid and makes no secret of his admiration for the Bengalurian. Where does it leave the members of the board’s cricket advisers?
It would be interesting to know what he and Dhoni think of the man who is to be involved with the team’s performance overseas. Also, how will the team be interacting with such a top-heavy think tank?
There are wheels within wheels and only when the experts get into the act can one have a clearer picture.
Like Dhoni, Kohli also speaks his mind without batting an eyelid. During his acclimatisation as captain he should also learn to be diplomatic. It cannot be always eyeball-to-eyeball contact situation he gets into in the field.
After winning the inaugural World Twenty20 title, Dhoni had a quotable quote, that he expects his teammates to give everything for him, even willing to jump in front a moving truck for commitment.
Kohli only talks of preparing a team that should dominate world cricket for the next five or six years. Not a bad roadmap for a man who likes to lead from the front.