Ravi Shastri has said that Team India chief coach Duncan Fletcher will not be sidelined during the ODI series against England starting in Bristol on August 25. The former Indian all-rounder, now a respected TV analyst, was appointed Team India director by the Indian cricket Board (BCCI) on Tuesday following the 3-1 Test series defeat in England.
On Tuesday, the BCCI made sweeping changes in the coaching staff by sending the team's bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Trevor Penney "on a break." Both Dawes and Penney were handpicked by Fletcher when he succeeded Gary Kirsten after the 2011 ICC World Cup triumph.
"My role is to oversee everything. All of them report to me. This is for the ODI series in England. He (Fletcher) stays as the head coach. And these two (Sanjay Bangar and Bharat Arun) will be his assistants. Fletcher won't be sidelined," Shastri told ESPNCricinfo in an interview on Wednesday.
Disappointed at India's hattrick of Test losses against England, senior BCCI officials called up Shastri in London to step in as team boss. The news was 'broken' on captain MS Dhoni and Fletcher around midnight on Tuesday after Shastri accepted the short-term role.
"I had no reservations about the job. I insisted on the coaching staff I wanted. I went (for domestic Indian coaches) because I felt they can contribute," said Shastri, who had filled in as India's coach on a tour of Bangladesh in 2007. Bangar was the King's XI Punjab coach in this year's Indian Premier League. (Also Read: Dhoni Gets BCCI Backing)
Shastri's appointment has received mixed reactions. Sunil Gavaskar has said that there is no quick fix for an ailment that has affected India on overseas tours for long. Former wicketkeeper and national selector Syed Kirmani feels coaches will never win matches and it's for Dhoni and the players to do the job.
Knowing fully well that he will be closely watched, Shastri has already spoken to Dhoni and Fletcher. "We had a chat about where things are at the moment, how things have to be addressed, and how important communication will be," Shastri said. (Shastri Appointment Increases Pressure on Dhoni, Fletcher)
Shastri said the team lost the Test series due to lack of experience but the players' inability to fight was unacceptable. "People can be judgmental, but we have not played a five-Test match series in a long time. When you play five Test matches in 40 days your fitness gets exposed. But if you are inexperienced it comes to the fore," Shastri said.
So what is Shastri's message to a team that is low in morale?
Just the way he speaks on TV, Shastri sounds robust. "My challenge is for the boys to enjoy themselves, play freely and express themselves. Work hard and use the cricket ground as a vehicle to express yourselves and play aggressively."
The shorter format of the game may just help tide over the horror show in the Test series.