Confined ‘I’ into the dustbin and replaced it with ‘we’; that’s my achievement: Shastri

Not my job to approach administrators to get breaks for players before WC: Shastri

Dubai:-There were no egos in the Indian dressing room and the word ‘I’ was consigned to the dustbin during the last five years of his tenure as the chief coach of the side, asserted Ravi Shastri as he addressed his last press conference following the nine-wickets win against Namibia in the final ‘Super 12’ game of the ICC T20 World Cup here.

The Virat Kohli-led side gave a commanding performance in India’s last assignment at the global event after they failed to secure a semifinal berth following two early ‘Super 12’ defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand, who both advanced to the last-four from Group 2.

Shastri’s tenure would be known for the highs the Indian Test side touched this year when they beat the invincible Australia 2-1 on their home turf and took a 2-1 lead against the Joe Root-led England in the five-match series. The last Test had to be cancelled following a bio-bubble breach in the India camp.

Asked if he and Virat Kohli actively worked towards creating an environment where players stood up for each other amid criticism, Shastri said, “We actively worked towards it. We wanted trust in that dressing room. That’s the only way you can get each other’s back. We needed communication. We wanted no finger pointing at each other. We needed the word ‘I’ to be thrown into the dustbin and the word ‘we’ coming in. And we created a culture that had to be obeyed and followed,” said Shastri.

“With Virat leading the way, he’s been one of the great ambassadors for the games, especially when you look at red-ball cricket, the way he’s embraced it. And it’s allowed other players on the team to follow suit. You’ve got to give credit where it’s due,” added the coach, who was criticised during the England tour for taking India players to his book-launch function, following which several members of the Indian support staff tested Covid-19 positive.

“So it’s a team culture, which was impressed upon the team to follow, and they followed it to the hilt.”

On what was the best thing to happen in ‘this Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri era’, the coach emphasised that it had created a team, which is one of the greatest in the history of the game.

“Just the quality of cricket this team has played over the last five years across all formats. When you perform in that fashion where you go across the globe, across all formats and beat teams, then you know you’re part of one great cricket team.

“I’m not saying a great cricket Team India, I’m saying one of the great cricket teams in the history of the game. Because if you look at those kinds of performances, they don’t happen often. You’ve got to have a bunch of players who are fit, hungry, fearless, have the quality, have the belief, and then to stay fit so you can play those five years together and go across the globe and perform everywhere.

“I mean, if you look at — if you want the real highlights, nothing beats Australia. England, we’re up in the series. It will be the longest time we’ll be up in the series until next year. I might be commentating on that game for all you know, but I’ll keep that one area. It feels good.”

Shastri also said that the ICC T20 World Cup apart, his side had played exceptionally well in the shortest version of the game, beating the likes of West Indies and Sri Lanka on their home turfs.

“White ball, everywhere. You beat the West Indies in the West Indies. You beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, good teams. All around, it’s been fabulous. Yes, we are disappointed in the result in the first two games here. Let’s be honest, I’m not here to make any sort of excuses. But still, it’s something for the boys to learn. They’ll get an opportunity again next year. It’s not often you have World Cups in 12 months. So hopefully, they’ll go and kick some butt there,” added Shastri.

to get breaks for players before WC: Shastri

India’s outgoing coach Ravi Shastri categorically said that it was not his job to approach the Indian cricket administrators to get some sort of break for the players ahead of the T20 World Cup, given that many of them could probably be suffering from bio-bubbles fatigue due to the excessive workload over the last six months.

Several top India cricketers, who were part of the World Cup campaign in the UAE, have spent months in bio-bubble environments, moving from one sanitised environment to another and hardly ever getting to spend quality time with their families back home.

Top Indian cricketers moved from the bio-secure environment of the IPL first leg in India to England where they played the World Test Championship final against New Zealand and following that were involved in a Test series against England. They then moved into the IPL bio-bubble for the second leg in the UAE. And, following the completion of the lucrative league, they entered the ICC T20 World Cup bubble.

Asked during the post-match press conference as to whether he tried to reach out to the cricket administration in order to possibly get some sort of a break for some of the players ahead of the World Cup, Shastri said that it’s something the administrators have to decide.

“That’s not my job, first of all. That is something the administrator, not just from India, it is the others around the globe who will also be looking at it before big tournaments to ensure that there is a little bit of gap so that the guys are made fresh and ready to play,” said Shastri.

The outgoing coach said that as far as his five-year tenure as head coach was concerned, he tried to be flexible with the players if they actually wanted a break, assuring them that they could come back and have their place back.

“Absolutely. The communication has been free. We’ve managed players, especially with the training methods and everything. One thing, we were never short on communication. Everyone was free to speak. No one was treated as a junior. There were no seniors and juniors on this side. Everyone had the freedom to express himself.

“I think it’s been one heck of a journey for me personally. I know it’s my last day in the dressing room. I just spoke to the boys. But I’d like to thank the BCCI for giving me this opportunity, believing that I could do the job, and I wish the coach coming after me all the luck,” said Shastri.

“I must thank in this also all the committees that were there in picking me as the coach. We’ve all tried on this team for some time in the series. I would like to thank all of them because they were all part of the journey. But one man I would like to give special mention to. His name is N. Srinivasan. He was the man who insisted I do this job in 2014. In fact, I didn’t have the belief I could do this job. He seemed to have more belief in my ability than I had. I hope I haven’t let him down. If you’re listening, I got the opportunity, and I did my work without any agenda,” added Shastri.