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Winds of change

Wednesday, 20 August 2014 | PNS | New Delhi

BCCI appoints Shastri as director for ODI series, Fletcher stays but his assistants given ‘break’

Reacting to the embarrassing Test series defeat against England, the BCCI on Tuesday appointed former captain Ravi Shastri as Indian team’s director for the upcoming ODI series. Duncan Fletcher would still be the head coach but Shastri has been given the reins of the side.

Under pressure to act after India’s disastrous performance in the Test series, the BCCI has also given the support staff — bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Trevor Penny — a “break” and appointed former players Sanjay Bangar and Bharat Arun as assistant coaches and R Sridhar as the fielding coach.

The shake-up is a clear indication that Fletcher’s, whose contract ends in April 2015, wings will be clipped with Shastri taking over as the Director for the five-match ODI series beginning from August 25.

This is not the first time that Shastri has been appointed as a part of ‘damage control’ exercise. In 2007 after the World Cup debacle in the West Indies, the former India all-rounder was appointed as a ‘Cricket Manager’ for the tour of Bangladesh after Greg Chappell was sacked.

“In culmination of the discussions among all the office-bearers of the BCCI over the last couple of weeks, the BCCI has decided to avail the services of former India captain, Mr. Ravi Shastri, to oversee and guide the Indian cricket team for the forthcoming one-day international matches against England,” a press release issued by the BCCI said.

“Mr Duncan Fletcher will continue as Head Coach while Ravi Shastri will be the overall in-charge of Cricket affairs of the Indian Team.”

The support staff will have a more Indian look with Kings XI Punjab chief coach Bangar, India U-19 coach Arun and colts fielding coach Sridhar being roped in place of Dawes and Penney.

“In their continuing efforts to re-energise the support to the team, the BCCI has given a break to the bowling coach Mr Joe Dawes and the fielding coach, Trevor Penney, for the one-day series and appointed Sanjay Bangar, former Indian all-rounder, and former India fast bowler Bharat Arun as the Asst. Coaches of the team. R Sridhar will join the support team as the fielding coach for the one-day series.”

The 52-year-old Shastri, has played 80 Tests and 150 ODIs for India scoring 3830 and 3108 runs respectively. He also has 151 Test and 129 ODI wickets.

India’s humiliating 1-3 defeat in the Test series had prompted many former cricketers to call for Fletcher’s immediate ouster, saying that he had not contributed anything. The former cricketers had also questioned the leadership abilities of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has a poor track record in overseas conditions. The BCCI, however, has not disturbed Dhoni for the time being.

Under Fletcher, India have now lost 13 Tests outside the sub-continent with seven in England, four in Australia, one each in New Zealand and South Africa.

While the BCCI press release mentioned that Dawes and Penney have been given a “break” for the ODI series, it is quite clear that the duo have been sacked considering the sharp decline in the bowling and fielding standards of the team.

The new support staff has former players who have worked with the younger Indian players.

Bangar had played 12 Tests and 15 ODIs in early 2000, with his gritty half-century at Headingley opening in overcast conditions in a memorable victory still remembered. Bangar, considered to be one of the brightest young coaches, had guided an unhrealded Kings XI Punjab team to the final of the IPL and has been widely acclaimed as a shrewd tactician with brilliant knowledge about the domestic set-up and its cricketers.

Arun had opened the bowling with legendary Kapil Dev in 2 Tests and 4 ODIs in the mid 80’s without much success. Arun, who will probably be the bowling coach, has been heading the NCA’s bowling unit for a close to seven years now and is best known for guiding the Unmukt Chand-led India U-19 team to World Cup victory in Australia back in 2012.

Fielding coach R Sridhar, a former Ranji Trophy player for Hyderabad, has been India U-19’s fielding coach and the junior players swear by his work ethic. He has also been a fielding coach with the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.

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