The BCCI also named former India players Sanjay Bangar and Bharat Arun as assistant coaches and R. Sridhar as fielding coach for the ODI series.
Heads have rolled in the Indian cricket team set-up. Following a sound thrashing at the hands of England in the Test series, and the consequent censure, the BCCI on Tuesday virtually cut coach Duncan Fletcher down to size by appointing former India all-rounder and captain Ravi Shastri as overall in-charge of cricket affairs of the Indian team for the five-match One-Day International series against England.
The BCCI also virtually handed pink slips to bowling coach Joe Dawes, fielding coach Trevor Penney and named former India players Sanjay Bangar and Bharat Arun as assistant coaches and R. Sridhar as fielding coach for the ODI series.
While Penney began his India innings after the 2011 World Cup final, South African Eric Simmons made way for Dawes after the 2011-12 Australian tour.
Clearly the 3-1 drubbing has made Fletcher’s position untenable. His days seem numbered now; it’s to be seen whether the Zimbabwean, who took charge from South African Gary Kirsten after the 2011 World Cup, will quit at the conclusion of the current tour.
A terse press release, issued by BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel, on Tuesday, said, “Ravi Shastri will be overall in-charge of the cricket affairs of the Indian team. In culmination of the discussions among all the office-bearers over the last couple of weeks, the BCCI has decided to avail the services of former India captain Ravi Shastri to oversee and guide the Indian cricket team for the forthcoming One-Day International matches against England.
“Duncan Fletcher will continue as head coach. In their continuing efforts to re-energise the support to the team, the BCCI has given a break to bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Trevor Penney for the one-day series.’’
While all three — Fletcher, Dawes and Penney — have a running contract with the BCCI up to the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, a very senior BCCI official revealed that it was virtually the end of the road for Dawes and Penney. They were politely told that they could work at the NCA in Bangalore if they were not keen on a break or holiday.
Shastri had a short stint as coach of the national team following India’s quick exit from the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. In spite of his media commitments he has agreed to work for the five ODIs to be played from August 25 to September 5 at Bristol, Cardiff, Nottingham, Birmingham and Leeds.
The BCCI had engaged Rahul Dravid as mentor leading up to the first Test at Nottingham and the news now heard over the grapevine is that a long-term role may be offered to Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman.
With India scheduled to play a four-Test series in Australia (December 4 to January 7, 2015), followed by a tri-series from January 16 to February 1 and the World Cup, the BCCI is likely to make fresh announcements after the ODI series in England.
Mumbai’s Lalchand Rajput was in the running, but the BCCI feels that his expertise is needed with the India ‘A’ team for a while. Bharat Arun has been part of BCCI and NCA set up and he was coach of the India u-19 World Cup teams. Bangar shot into prominence for the work he did with Kings XI Punjab in the 2014 IPL; he was also coach of India ‘A’ last year.
Bangar has played 12 Tests and 15 ODIs. When most batsmen struggled to face Zimbabwean left-arm spinner Raymond Price in a Test at Nagpur in 2002, Bangar scored a 155-ball hundred with 12 fours and two 6s, but most cricket aficionados will remember his 179-run second-wicket partnership with Dravid that eventually helped India beat England by an innings and 46 runs in the 2002 Leeds Test.
R. Sridhar has travelled with the junior and ‘A’ teams and was a fielding coach at the NCA for three years.