Former Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri revealed that he has not attended a single selection meeting during his two stints with the side. Shastri had a seven-year tenure with the national team between 2014 and 2021 – first as the team director and then as the head coach of the team. He was succeeded by Rahul Dravid after India's elimination from the 2021 T20 World Cup. In a recent interview with ESPNCricinfo, he was asked about how the selection process actually takes place in real life and his answer left even the host of the chat show surprised.
"I have zero first-hand experience [of attending selection meetings]," he said. "Seven years I was part of the team, I never went near a selection meeting. I wasn't invited either. I think in the long run, yes [a coach should be invited],” he said.
"You spend a lot of time with the boys, it's important, even if not in voting capacity, but to hear what the selectors are thinking, what is their train of thoughts are. And then to decide what could be the right thing for the side. I have zero idea how it starts, how it finishes, who are there in the meeting. From what I gather, there were a lot of people [in the meetings], over the last three-four years, inside selection meetings, not supposed to be there, against the constitution but pitched up."
Shastri, however, also pointed out how his presence in the selection meetings could have altered his relationship with the cricketers.
"I needed the trust of the player. If a player knew I was a selector or I could influence a selector/chairman of the committee, then will he open up to me? Will he have the same trust in me? There could be a certain people who will come and still be open and upfront, there could be a certain people who might not want to, and I don't blame them because they may have some reservations.”
"From my point of view, that's why I thought it's best to stay away, but in the long run, especially when a team is in the rebuilding stage, it's extremely important that a coach who spends a lot of time with the players within the confines of the dressing room can give some valuable inputs."