Ravi Shastri: Indian Cricket's most controversial coach
Over the years, Team India have had several coaches that have handed over the responsibility of shaping and nurturing a team worthy to win a game of cricket. Though the Indian cricket team was formed way back in the 1930s, India’s first ever coach ‘Bishen Sigh Bedi’ was appointed over 50 years later in 1990.
It was followed by many other coaches – Abbas Ali Baig, Ajit Wadekar, Sandeep Patel, Madan Lal, Anshuman Gaekwad, and the only ICC World Cup-winning Captain until then, the legend Kapil Dev also had the opportunity to contribute back to Team India.
And when the BCCI did not notice anything remarkable coming out of the Indian coaches, an era of non-Indian coaches emerged. Team India entered the 21st century with its first ever foreign coach.
The very sober New Zealander, John Wright started the fashion (2000-2005) followed by undisputed failure, the Australian Greg Chappell (2005-2007). Finally, came along the most respected Indian coach till date, the South African Gary Kirsten (2008 - 2011) and also, the most successful coach considering that the fact India’s won the ICC World Cup after a long drought of 28 years. The responsibility was then passed on the Zimbabwean Duncan Fletcher considering a relative successful coaching stint with England (2011- 2015).
After 15 years, BCCI eventually decides to resort back to Indian coach for Men in Blue. They surprisingly appointed the very an ex Indian spin bowling all-rounder tuned into very successful commentator, Ravi Shastri (2014-2016) but not for the position of a coach but of a ‘Team Director’. Very little anyone knew then, it was just a beginning of controversies.
In few years when BCCI opened up the vacancy, gritty Anil Kumble (2016 – 2017) was appointed as Team India’s head coach. Sadly, the stint came into a scandalous end, when he voluntarily stepped out citing differences with the Indian captain Virat Kohli. Many believed that Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli will be a great combination however it transformed into a sad episode for Indian cricket.
Once again, the responsibility was handed over back to Ravi Shastri (2017) to take the team forward and now as head coach of the Indian national cricket team. Interestingly, he was not apparently the preferred choice of the elite selection panel – Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, and VVS Laxman, however, was credited the responsibility based on the Virat’s very strong recommendation. Without even starting the tenure, Ravi Shastri was already in the news. Ever since then, he continued to attract controversies towards him quite consistently.
On many occasions, his team selection has raised eyebrows for swiftly chopping and changing the team members based on a few poor performances. Cricket veterans believe that the current team management lacks giving enough confidence to the new joiners. The recent exclusion of India’s invaluable players like Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwa Pujara for important test matches against South Africa and England respectively at their soil came under extreme criticism and generated very big controversy.
Known for speaking his heart out, more often than not, his very casual and at times, vulgar comments have created an unwanted controversy around him. In the last one year, on several occasions, he was being dismissed for his unprofessional statements. His obnoxious speeches have understandably made the cricketing world furious with anger. In fact, it reached a level where fans started to demand his sacking despite Team India’s successful performances. It appears that not many in the cricketing fraternity enjoy his over the top attitude.
Yet, despite being the controversy’s child, he has managed to deliver goods for Indian cricket. In just a few months from now, Team India will embark on their journey to win the most prestigious trophy in the cricketing arena, the ICC World Cup 2019. Without a doubt, this event will be his biggest assignment up until date.
Winning this all-important tournament not only is a great opportunity to stamp his presence over the Indian cricket history with gold but also, may just enable him to a win billion hearts back, at least for a short while, until he sparks yet another controversy.