'What do you need these breaks for?': Shastri against Dravid being granted rest
With VVS Laxman taking charge of the Indian cricket team as the interim head coach for their six-match series in New Zealand in place of Rahul Dravid, Ravi Shastri has questioned the decision of Team India's coaching staff being granted frequent breaks. This is not the first time that the Dravid-led department will not be around as Laxman oversaw proceedings when India toured Zimbabwe and Ireland earlier this year. Of course, Dravid and Co. had to give the Ireland tour a miss as the senior squad in England prepping up for the ODI and T20I series; However, Dravid was absent when India beat Zimbabwe in August, as well as during last month's home series against South Africa.
Shastri, who when as coach, was active pretty much the entire time irrespective of whichever team played, is not in favour of Dravid's constant breaks, pointing out that the regular gaps can affect the coach-player relationship. In fact, one of the reasons why Shastri decided not to continue as India's head coach for another term is because it required him to be on the road all the time, something the former all-rounder admitted he couldn't, given the toll being at helm for seven years took on him. So, while the players' workload management has rightfully taken precedence, Shastri believes that for the same practice be implemented on the coaching setup cannot be the way forward.
"I do not believe in breaks," Shastri said during a virtual press conference on the eve of the first T20I between India and New Zealand in Wellington. "Because I want to understand my team, I want to understand my players and I want to then, be in control of that team. These breaks... what do you need that many breaks for to be honest? You get your 2-3 months of the IPL, that's enough for you to rest as a coach. But other times, I think a coach should be hands on, whoever he is."
Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Sairaj Bahutule will fill in for Vikram Rathour and Paras Mhambrey as the team's batting and bowling coach respectively. Dravid will return to his coaching duties when India leaves for Bangladesh for ODI and Test series, along with Rathour and Mhambrey starting December 4.
Shastri was however in agreement with a crucial point raised by Laxman during the pre-match press conference: that India's T20 future will be headlined more by the current lot of youngsters. Post India's unceremonious exit from the T20 World Cup, the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and the more established stars' T20 future is up in the air. With the next T20 World Cup scheduled in 2024, by when Rohit will be 37 and Kohli 36, it is extremely likely that they pave way for the younger set of players to take charge.
Laxman agreed that in white-ball cricket, specialist players are the need of the hour and that of there is anything that T20 cricket has taught the world, it is that multi-dimensional cricketers are as valuable as gold dust. The Indian squad that recently played the T20 World Cup lacked batters who can bowl and vice-versa, whereas winners England, through their fearless brand of cricket, set the benchmark with several utility players in their line-up. With an abundance of talent waiting – from the IPL and the secondary Indian team, Shastri mentioned that India need to hit the reset button as early as the New Zealand series starting tomorrow in Wellington.
"I think that is the way forward. VVS is right. They will identify the specialists, especially with youngsters because going forward, that should be the mantra. Two years from now, identify and make that Indian team into a terrific fielding side and of course identify roles for these youngsters who could be fearless. And go out there and play that kind of cricket without any baggage whatsoever," Shastri said while replying to a query from Hindustan Times.