The cat's officially out of the bag. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have finally put all speculation to rest and announced the name of former Indian all rounder, inventor of the ‘chapati shot’, and of the immortal phrase ‘went like a tracer bullet’, Ravishankar Jayadritha Shastri, as the Indian cricket team’s Head Coach - the men's team, that is. It is important to make that distinction as the Indian women’s team are also very much in the news these days, for all the right reasons.
As with all matters concerning the BCCI, the all important issue of appointing a new coach has not been without its share of controversy. That Ravi Shastri was going to be the anointed one was a foregone conclusion. The likes of Virender Sehwag, Tom Moody and a clutch of other also-rans being ‘interviewed’ was only to make up the numbers. A mere eyewash. Nevertheless, The Committee of Administrators (CoA), and the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), represented by the redoubtable troika of Messrs Ganguly, Tendulkar and Laxman, between them, managed to make a pig's breakfast out of the entire procedure. So what else is new?
Anyhow, we now finally have a new head coach, and strongman Ravi Shastri has made his choice of who will assist him in his onerous duties, with the World Cup barely two years down the road.
Bharat Arun will be his bowling coach and if he is stuck on how to counsel one of his left arm seamers to bowl the perfect toe-crunching ‘Wasim (Wah! Seam!) Akram’ yorker, veteran pacer Zaheer Khan will be on standby to put his two-pice bit in.
Sanjay Bangar will continue to competently advise the batsman on how not to leave a gap between bat and pad while essaying the forward defensive push.
Forward defensive push? ‘What is that?’ I hear the batsmen ask. Sounds vaguely familiar. ‘Don't worry’, assures Shastri, ‘that's why we’ve kept Rahul Dravid waiting in the wings.
He’s very sound on the defensive push’.Well, that's all fine and dandy then. Shastri to wield the baton, Arun and Bangar his trusty lieutenants, with Dravid and Zaheer just a phone call away, in case they are required. Plus the usual retinue of physios and sundries from all over the globe. A perfect set-up. Of course the six foot something Shastri made it abundantly clear to the media that as far as he was concerned, Dravid and Zaheer are cricketing legends, and he would always welcome their inputs, but only when they are asked, which may or may not happen. However, Shastri further elaborated that if these two fine gentlemen cricketers have any doubts as to their respective roles (or the lack of it), they can always approach the boffins at the BCCI for clarity.
Your intrepid correspondent felt that he should get a sound byte from each of the primary protagonists in this cloak-and-dagger dr-ama played out by the BCCI and its associates. After a great deal of strenuous effort and a bit of strategic grease-palming of various durwans and security gu-ards at different destinations, we managed to obt-ain these throwaway lines from all concerned.
Ravi Shastri - ‘Look, that I am being paid Rs 8 crores is now public knowledge. I can't help it if Kumble was paid only a piffling Rs 6.5 crores. Don't forget, there's GST as well’, he added somewhat ambiguously.
Bharat Arun - ‘My friend, I am not supposed to speak to the media. This much I can tell you, though. I am working very hard on the two-finger, cross-seam held slower delivery, which should help Bhuvi and Umesh no end. Fast bowlers are now becoming slow bowlers. And Ashwin should bowl at least one off-break per over. He is an off-spinner, dammit.'
Sanjay Bangar - ‘Virat Kohli’s bat comes down from the region of second slip as he pushes forward, which gets him into trouble in English conditions. Tried to call Rahul Bhai for advice, but his phone is permanently switched off.’
Rahul Dravid - 'I never thought Sachin, Saurav and VVS would put me in this awkward position. And I also gave up the Delhi Daredevils coaching job. I think it's down to my de-cl-aring some years ago in Pakistan with Sachin just short of his double hundred. Clearly, that's been rankling'.
Zaheer Khan - ‘I don't wish to get personal. All I am saying is, pick a hundr-ed people at random from the streets and ask them, “Bharat Arun or Zaheer Khan?”, and you'll get your answer’.
CAC -Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman all offered a terse ‘no comment’.
CoA spokesperson Diana Eduljee - ‘We have drafted a response which is doing the rounds of our committee. We should be able to revert with an official release in a week’.
BCCI Boffin - ‘Look, I have Srinivasan breathing down my neck. I have no time to comment on petty issues like coach selection’.
Ramachandra Guha - ‘My friend, as I am no longer on the CoA, I can comment freely, but I'd rather you waited for the book.’
Virat Kohli - ‘How can I play those powerful flicks over mid-on and mid-wicket if my bat does not come down from second slip? Bangar should have checked with me first’.
Anil Kumble - ‘zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……….
(The author is a brand consultant who is interested in music, cricket and good humour)....