Is it the end of Fletcher era?

Shastri given sweeping powers as an embattled BCCI decides to crack the whip

Is it the end of Fletcher era?

India’s embarrassing 3-1 defeat was expected to ring in changes to the existing set-up around the team. The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Tuesday took the first step by appointing Ravi Shastri as the director of the team and making sweeping changes in the support staff.

BCCI also ‘gave break’ to bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Trevor Penny for the upcoming five-match one-day series. The governing body appointed former India pacer B Arun and Sanjay Bangar would join the team as assistant coaches, while R Sridhar would join the team as fielding coach.

Shastri wasted little time in entering his new role as he paid a visit to the team hotel here in London and spent some time with the team and backroom staff.

Sundar Raman, the Board CEO, was part of the discussion. Raman had reached London three days back, indicating that the process of changing the environment around the team was set in motion much earlier.

It has been understood that Shastri would be doing all the strategizing in the upcoming one-dayers and in the lone T20 match against England, reducing the role of Duncan Fletcher.

The BCCI has already given enough feelers that Fletcher, who took over the reins in 2011 after India’s World Cup win, was no longer required in the set-up. “Shastri will have all the freedom to take the team forward along with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the forthcoming one-dayers.

He can do all the planning and as for Fletcher’s role, it will be a matter between him and Shastri,” said one of the top board officials.

It is a possibility that Fletcher might not want to continue in an atmosphere where his role has been drastically cut down, and part ways before the series against the West Indies at home next month.

It also brought the question forward about the longevity of Shastri’s role. It was not immediately clear that how long the former Indian skipper would continue as the director, putting aside his duties as a commentator.

“Right now we are not thinking about that topic. It will come up for discussion once the series against the England is over. Right now we are thinking about the benefits the Shastri’s presence can bring to the team.

He was a gutsy player and has been around cricket long enough as a commentator as well. We believe that Shastri can contribute immensely to the team’s morale, which we think has taken a beating in the Test series against England. We are fully behind the players in these tough times and we think Shastri’s presence can help them gain confidence,” said the official.

Experience

Shastri has the experience of working the team too, and that, the official said worked in favour of him. “He was associated with the team as a coach in 2007 (against Ba­n­gladesh). That time India were reeling after a disastrous campaign in the World Cup.

Greg Chappell had quit and the team needed someone to lift them. Shastri did that role brilliantly then and, hopefully, he can repeat that this time as well,” he said.

It was also a possibility that India would be without a coach for the series against the West Indies. There would be little time to appoint a new coach if Shastri is not willing to continue as the Director after the series against England.

“In the series against England (2007) too we didn’t have a coach with Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh doing the coaching roles. Despite that we won that series. So, we are not in a rush for anything. Let’s see how the series against England goes and will take an appropriate call as the time comes.”

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