The combination of Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli has been very fruitful for India, which has taken team India to new heights in the past 18 months. India is ranked no.1 in Tests and no.2 in ODIs and no.3 in T20Is rankings.
Sportstarlive.com had a chat with Team India head coach Ravi Shastri and here are the excerpts from the interview.
“It is extremely important that the coach and the captain are on the same page. You don’t want one of them looking north and the other looking south. Then you will end up west,” Ravi Shastri says about the sync in mentality of the coach and captain.
Talking about the change in role from 2014 and 2017, Shastri said, “Nothing different, nothing changes. Just the name changes from Director to Head Coach, the rest remains absolutely the same. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel because everything is there. The support staff that I appointed in 2014 is still there. The boys know your style of functioning. The fact that you were there with them for 18 months was a big bonus. And that helps.”
Shastri asserted that the captain was the most important person in the team.
“Captain is the man who takes all the decisions on the field. He spends a longer period of time on the field alone than captains in other sport. So, the captain has a huge role to play in cricket when compared to other sports, which get over in an hour or two. That’s why I feel he is the boss, and he’s got to lead by example, which Virat (Kohli) does beautifully,” explained Shastri.
He continued, “Always. If I was the captain, I was the boss, and everyone in the team knew that very clearly. So did the coach of the team. The coach is there to ensure that everyone in the team has a clear mind and knows his role (in the team). That makes the job of the captain much easy.”
Ravi Shastri talked about the similarity of thinking between the captain and coach.
He explained, “It does. It is extremely important that the coach and the captain are on the same page. You don’t want one of them looking north and the other looking south. Then you will end up west. You got to be careful when that happens.The same page means the mindset — what you are looking for, what you are striving for... It (the mindset) has to be pretty similar so that things can easily be put across to the team.”
Shastri also elaborated why the coach’s job is all about man-management.
“Communication and man-management in this job is paramount. You have to understand everyone well. Each one’s personality is different, you try to understand that quickly. This comes with experience, knowledge of the sport; it comes from watching the game for long periods of time. My experience in the media, and watching a lot of cricket comes in handy. The bottom line is that I was always a student of the game. And I am still a student of the game. It helps me communicate with the boys,” he said.
Talking about MS Dhoni’s role in the team, Shastri said, “Massive. You can’t even put it in words, because there are not enough words to describe his role. His experience is invaluable. He so beautifully goes into the mindset of the bowler to read the situation by trying different things. For me people should not even question Dhoni’s place in the team. His ’keeping is so good. He walks into the side as a ’keeper alone. And he is batting beautifully. He is like wine, getting better and better with age. He is vintage.”
Shastri shared his learning from his current stint as coach, saying, “You learn because the game is changing. It’s evolving all the time. There are new formats, new skills that come into play, the kind of shots being played. So you need an answer to those kind of things that come up. When you look at the game per se, it doesn’t change much. But when you look at the shots being played, the equipment that is there with the players now, it becomes that much more important for the bowlers to have Plan B and Plan C up their sleeves, with the variations and skills.”
Ravi Shastri is not seen involving himself during the nets, he doesn’t bowl, doesn’t bat or interfere much with player’s training methods.
He says, “My job is specific. I have my support staff in place, and if someone in my support staff gets injured then I will have to fill in, there is no question about that. But when there are already people there, why should I interfere? Too many cooks spoil the broth. There are roles given to everyone. I have a role like speaking at team meetings on what to do, what to communicate to the players. By me going there and throwing down three balls or giving three catches is not going to make any difference. I am not one who is going to do something for the sake of showing to people. I know what my role is, and I stick to it.”