Ravi Shastri backs up Duncan Fletcher’s position as India coach


Ravi Shastri insists Duncan Fletcher’s position as India coach is not under threat.

Shastri was appointed as team director for the one-day series with England – which starts next Monday – after India’s 3-1 defeat in the Test series.

India were 1-0 up in the Tests after what Shastri called “India’s greatest overseas victory.” But England hit back with three straight wins, with India’s batsmen involved in some calamitous collapses.

India’s cricket board – the BCCI – responded by asking Shastri to take overall charge for the ODI series, whilst retaining Fletcher has head coach.

Fielding coach Trevor Penney bowling coach Joe Dawes were stood down for the rest of the tour. Former India all-rounder Sanjay Bangar and ex-Test fast bowler Bharat Arun have been added to Fletcher’s coaching staff.

Shastri had been a regular in the Sky commentary box during the Test series, and he had just taken part in a review of the fifth Test – The Verdict – when his summer in England took an unexpected twist.

“It all came in a hurry,” he told Sky Sports News HQ. “I just got off ‘The Verdict’ when the phone started ringing. I was asked to do the job and when you see the state Indian cricket is in at the moment it was important someone put their hand up.

“I was asked to oversee things for this one-day series, and if I had any suggestions, which I promptly made to them.


“It is just for this one-day series against England. I had to ask Star television, with whom I was going to work for this one-day series, and they very kindly gave me permission.”

Shastri insists that whilst he is in overall charge of the squad, Fletcher’s position is unchanged.

“Duncan formally remains in place. He will have two assistants working with him. I will oversee things from the top. We have got to get the morale and the confidence back so the boys play and enjoy themselves,” he said.

“I had a chat with Duncan and MS (Dhoni, the captain) yesterday and everything that had to be said, was said. Duncan still commands a lot of respect in the dressing room. He’s been around for a long time. He will remain as the head coach. I am not interested in Duncan’s job – let me make it loud and clear, Duncan Fletcher is the head coach of this India team.

“I don’t think there is any need to panic. These are tried and trusted people. Let’s not forget India is a young side and is in transition. It is important that everyone is patient and gives people time to get their act together.”

Shastri believes the second Test victory at Lord’s was the team’s greatest away from home, but admits what happened in the third, fourth, and fifth Tests was not acceptable. They were hammered by 266 runs in Southampton, and by an innings at Old Trafford and The Oval.

“What I saw was India’s greatest win overseas, and I’ve covered cricket and watched cricket and played cricket for 35 years,” he said. “I don’t think any win was as big as this, at Lord’s.  And then you saw the downswing, some spineless cricket as well. That I attribute to inexperience and the fact that it is a very young side.

“I think inexperience went a long way, plus the fact that England had two really good exponents of swing and pace. James Anderson was magnificent and Stuart Broad gave him fabulous company. And then of course Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan pitched in as well.

“So they were up against an attack, in foreign conditions…every track had juice in it.”

Shastri believes that if the pitches are the same for next summer’s Ashes series, they will suit Australia’s fast bowlers even more than England’s.

“I’d like to see the tracks next summer – if they are the same against Australia, then good luck England!” he said.


New Delhi


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