The Indian cricket team has been mentored under a series of foreign coaches in the past and they have shown some encouraging results under their guidance but the BCCI have appointed former all-rounder Ravi Shastri as the new head coach. Has he been able to turn the table in favour of the Indian side or are the results from the India vs Sri Lanka series too early to judge his performance as the team’s boss?
A quick peek into the history
It all started with former New Zealand captain and leading batsman John Wright who had retired from international cricket in the year 1993 and was appointed as India coach in 2000. He was India’s first foreign coach and arrived when India were failing to meet their potential.
Following his appointment, Wright, along with captain Sourav Ganguly, wrote a new chapter in Indian cricket of outstanding success. Wright stood alongside Ganguly for many important decisions, including the historic test match series played against Australia in 2001. Ganguly was keen to play Harbhajan Singh despite the off-spinner struggling for form and falling out of favour with the selectors.
However, the Indian captain was very willing to play Harbhajan and his decision at that crucial moment was backed by Wright. All Wright changed was to make sure that Harbhajan followed his plan perfectly in training. He placed a line of chalk dust for Harbhajan to pitch his deliveries at the same spot over and over again for hours. He was being taught by the coach to play the mental game with the batsman’s mind and keep bowling at him the same line till he gets flustered and commits a mistake.
Harbhajan came out a winner with an outstanding figure of 32 wickets in the series including the first hat-trick by an Indian bowler in a Test match.
Wright was followed by Greg Chappell, a decision that, in hindsight, has been seen as a backwards step. Despite being the first choice of Ganguly, Chappell made changes to the team and could not produce the expected results. India headed to the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies and were knocked out in the group stages.
Why is Ravi Shastri better suited?
Ravi Shastri is a player’s coach and shares a solid camaraderie with the team captain Virat Kohli. As Kohli is the man on the field, it is important that he and Shastri work well together and back each other upon tough decisions. A key to the success of John Wright and Sourav Ganguly was that the coach and the captain worked cohesively and backed each other up for the good of the team. In the current scenario, Kohli has got the man he had wanted, and the coach has been given the support staff he asked for.
It could be said a circle has now been completed for Ravi Shastri as he was with the squad in 2015 in Sri Lanka. Virat Kohli was the captain, Shastri was the Team Director and they defeated Sri Lanka to clinch the series 3 -1.
For the latest win against Sri Lanka, the standard of Sri Lanka’s team was poor and the pitches did not vary much from the surfaces India play on at home. The real test will come when India tour South Africa and there will be a microscope on how the team performs under Kohli and Shastri. The conditions and pitches will be a challenge and a lot will ride on the outcome.
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