Then, we thought it became clearer. Ganguly was widely tipped to replace Ravi Shastri as India team director. There was no word yet on who would replace Darren Fletcher, the coach, but this much seemed definite.
Subsequently, it became foggy again. News emerged that Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman would be a part of a special “advisory committee”. What this advisory committee would do was anyone’s guess. But the speculation was that it was the first step in acquiring the services of these legends for the benefit of Indian cricket.
Wednesday, June 3, saw an announcement from the BCCI stating that Ravi Shastri would continue in his role as team director, at least till the end of the Bangladesh tour. Accompanying this piece of news was a ringing endorsement from Virat Kohli, current India Test captain, who gushed, “Just to have Ravi Shastri around the team is a massive boost.”
While it makes perfect sense to continue with Ravi Shastri if the current team is satisfied with his performance, it does beg some important questions: what exact role will Ganguly, Sachin and Laxman have? And what was the point of continuing with Shastri, if Ganguly had already been pencilled in for the role?
A report published in the Anandabazar Patrika on June 3 claims that Shastri delivered an ultimatum to the BCCI stating that he would not accept a temporary assignment, come what may. In fact, ABP quotes him in the report as saying, “If I am going to be entrusted with a duty, it has to be for at least a year. One year or nothing.”
This was subsequently followed by BCCI’s announcement that Shastri had been retained as director, an act interpreted by the newspaper to mean that the BCCI had bowed to Shastri’s diktat.
What BCCI’s future course of action will be remains to be seen. But the current president, Jagmohan Dalmiya has usually found a way out of every impasse that he has faced. He may well maneouvre a canny solution this time too.
Shastri, Ganguly or Dravid?
Here’s another question to add to the several swirling around: if Shastri is so universally liked by the entire team, why not just extend his contract and give him an extended run as team director? As the BCCI themselves have pointed out, things haven’t gone too wrong after Shastri took over – the boys put in a spirited performance overseas against Australia and went till the semis in a World Cup where few had given them much chance of making it that far. Wouldn’t it better to clear the air once and for all?
On the other hand, if there’s any truth in the rumour that Ganguly is ‘preferred’ by the BCCI as the perosn who should take over as High Performance Manager, what’s stopping them from making the appointment? Why leak such news out without any kind of confirmation? Now, if Shastri’s contract is extended, the media will have a field day interpreting the news as the Indian players choosing Shastri’s services over Ganguly.
What is happening in this case is that a simple cricketing appointment is becoming a clash of egos, providing more and more fodder for the media. The New Indian Express quoted another BCCI official as saying that Dravid didn’t join the advisory panel because he wasn’t comfortable with Ganguly.
Is this really what the team requires now? When you have people of the stature of Shastri, Ganguly, Sachin, Laxman and Dravid, isn’t it more beneficial to allocate specific roles to them and utilise the vast repertoire of knowledge they possess, rather than make it a shadowy game of snakes-and-ladders?
But then again, this is the BCCI we’re talking about.