“Someone plays brilliantly, you go with the flow (as a commentator) and someone bats a like a twak, you let him know,” he said in a chat with DH here on Tuesday. That philosophy can be extended to various issues when it comes to the former India all-rounder.
Shastri, who was speaking at the sports apparel store Zeven where he is on the advisory board, had expressed disappointment on how things panned out while selecting the head coach for the Indian team last year but he has moved on in life and says he no longer misses being part of the set-up.
“There is a span for everything, I enjoyed playing for 13-14 years which I did,” he noted. “When I was with the team as team director, (I wanted to be there) for two years or two and half years maximum. That’s your shelf life there, specially if you are someone who has been in the media.”
Shastri took over the reins of the team in the middle of 2014 in England after the BCCI sent him an SOS following a 1-3 drubbing in the Tests. It was a difficult period for Indian cricket and Shastri saw through the successful transition.
“They accepted their mistakes and they realised there was work to be done,” he pointed out as the reasons for change in team’s fortunes. “There was no shortcut, they took the knock on the chin and what’s come out of that is total self-belief. There is ability and total trust within the team; there is belief that they can beat anyone, anywhere in the world,” he remarked.
The 3-0 series win over South Africa in 2015, when Shastri was team director, was deemed to have been achieved on designer tracks. The recent 4-0 triumph of England, however, gave no scope for such excuses. The opponents couldn’t even complain about the absence of Decision Review System.
“I am not surprised one bit with the performance (of India),” he began. “I would have expected nothing less. But from an English standpoint, they have no room for any excuse. The pitches were great, when it turned it turned for both sides; when pitches were good, they were good for both. DRS was there, so they can’t complain about that as well. They had to accept the fact and go home.”
A great admirer of Virat Kohli, the popular commentator felt the Indian captain has matured in his job. “He is a very excitable character but I like the way he has tempered himself down to the demands and responsibilities of a captain of India. The way he has handled the media, the way he has handled the tough situations… It’s very easy to lose your cool, you can see all that. And most importantly, he just thrives on captaincy and responsibility,” he offered.
Absence of pressures of captaincy, Shastri felt, was having a positive effect on Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was prolific in the limited-overs series against England. “He is enjoying his cricket, you can see it. He is enthusiastic, he knows he doesn’t have to come and sit in front of you for the press conferences after the game. He can have a blast now. I think the biggest contribution will be to the youngsters and Virat when it comes to captaincy.”
While maintaining that India will be favourites against Australia in the forthcoming four-Test series, Shastri thought Steve Smith’s men will be more positive than the Englishmen. “I see Australia coming here on a good run in the last two months. A lot of their top-order batsmen have played in India in the IPL, I see them being a little more aggressive when it comes to batting. A little more positive. So it will be interesting.”
Jaihind news service: