“He was given a job, he didn't do it. He was disrespectful to the candidate and to the job given to him.”
After losing out on the job of Indian cricket coach, Ravi Shastri did not hide his disappointment with the process behind the appointment, especially the presentation asked for and the interview conducted by the BCCI-appointed Cricket Advisory Committee. He had, in particular, strong words for former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, who was absent when Shastri was interviewed. However, not one to cry over spilled milk, Shastri is all set to resume another passion—television commentary. Excerpts from an interview:
How would you describe your legacy as team director?
See where we were as a team when I joined in 2014; see where we were by the time my tenure ended. It has been one hell of a journey. The boys deserve all praise for lifting themselves from where they were to the second position across all formats. I am very proud of the way they played and showed character.
Of all the jobs I have done—as a player, commentator and coach—this has given me the most satisfaction. It wasn't an easy job; I was aware I would always be under the scrutiny of you guys [media] but, nevertheless, I have derived immense job satisfaction. I didn't leave any stone unturned to obtain results. I can walk away with my head held high.
Any particular standout moments?
I did not expect the team to reach where they did in the 2015 ICC World Cup. To win seven matches on the trot and then lose in the semifinals to eventual champions Australia, especially after the Test washout Down Under, was mind-boggling. They won a series in Sri Lanka for the first time in 22 years, and also won an ODI series in England 3-1 which, I thought, was the turning point for us. Similarly, beating Australia in a Twenty20 series [in Australia] was never achieved before. These have been so many firsts.
Were you happy with the way things went with the CAC? Has losing out on the job hurt you?
Tell me, what else could I have done in 18 months? At one point, we were number one in two formats and number two in the third. I am only human, I gave it my best. I am not one to believe in presentations. My presentation was about all that we had done in the past 18 months. I was not applying for the job of a CEO. What I have learned in the past 35 years in the game is that nothing really surprises me. You can score a century in your previous innings and still get out to a good first ball in the very next.
Apparently, the BCCI would have offered you the position of batting coach. Would you have accepted?
There is no question of that happening. Come on, this is not school or gully cricket we are talking about.
If the BCCI wants you back later, will you take up the responsibility?
I have moved on. Now, my focus will be on what I do best—television commentary.
Are you upset that Sourav Ganguly was absent during your interview?
He was given a job, he didn't do it. He was disrespectful to the candidate and to the job given to him.
You have often said that you are the kind of person who picks himself up and moves on.
I am disappointed because, after the effort that went into planting the seed and nurturing it, [I will not] be around to see the fruits being borne. I would have liked to finish the job I had started.
But, I take away good memories. [I am happy] to see Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, and even Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan, bat the way they do. The way a legend like M.S. Dhoni carried himself through the ups and downs was outstanding.
Did Anil Kumble speak to you after his appointment?
Yes, he did. He called me and I congratulated him. I told him he was inheriting a terrific side.