Ravi Shastri clinched it. He got the coaching job. The second most important job in India, after the Prime Minister’s. A panel of three stalwart cricketers chose Ravi to continue in the role. Kapil Dev (chief stalwart) and Ravi Shastri go back a long way. It was a bit like Batman choosing Robin. Fair enough, Shastri has the credentials.
However, what few people know is there were other candidates such as Mike Hesson of New Zealand and Robin Singh of Trinidad, and now, Chennai. Also, one more little known cricket coach, an unheralded champion, an ultimate man manager, a leader for all seasons, namely….er….me. I feel a little hard done by the three stalwarts in charge. But I will let you be the judge.
The process leading to the interview was complicated. It all had to do with pressing buttons. After calling up a number on the BCCI website, I was given loads of instruction by a female voice with an American accent, who sounded like she’d never even heard of the game.
Here are those instructions:
(a) If you are an ex-cricketer looking for a benefit match, press 1
(b) If you are a cricketer married to a filmstar and the filmstar wants a benefit match, press 2
(c) If you are a cricketer who is desperate to appear on a TV reality show, press 3
(d) If you are Shantakumaran Sreesanth, don’t press anything and stop calling
(e) If you want to manage the Indian cricket team and promise not to get into fights in the West Indies, press 4
(f) If you want to get a hairweave done, please contact Viru Sehwag or Harsha Bhogle directly
(g) If you want to discuss conflict of interest, press 5
After a list of 207 combinations that could be pressed, finally I got to this one:
If you want to apply for the coaching job even though Ravi & Virat have already chosen Ravi, press all the buttons on the telephone dial, twice, simultaneously.
So, as you can probably tell, it was a real challenge to get anywhere next to the three stalwarts and the actual interview. However, thanks to the great influence I have within the BCCI, (Raju the canteen peon’s wife is a close friend of my wife’s hairdresser’s mother’s neighbour), I managed to get my prospectus through.
Last week, I got the call for the interview. The email said, “Please make yourself available for the interview at 1pm sharp. Carry your own lunch as the BCCI canteen is being fumigated."
The room they ushered me into was large. About the size of a four-bedroom-hall-kitchen, with domestic quarters attached, in Mumbai. Behind a long desk, sat the three stalwarts. In front of each was a wooden block with their name on it! I made quite an impression, when I pointed out to the esteemed stalwarts that Kapil’s name was in front of Shanta’s and Shanta’s name was in front of Anshuman’s, and Anshuman’s had fallen off the table. This irritated them and they started screaming at a guy called Vikas. The firing only stopped when Vikas explained he was a vendor from outside, an air-conditioner man, who held no official post in the BCCI.
So now, let’s focus on the actual interview:
Kapil: What is your name?
Cyrus: Sir, it's written on the form that I filled. Actually, you just called out my name.
Anushman: He doesn’t want to know if he knows your name. He wants to know if you know your name.
Shanta: You are not understanding. It's not about whether you know your name. It's about whether we know that you know your name.
Cyrus: Okay, it's CYRUS.
Kapil: On the form it says, CYRUS BROACHA. Why did you only say Cyrus? Why did you not mention Broacha?
Cyrus: Broacha is my surname. You didn’t ask for my surname. My surname is Broacha, my name is just Cyrus.
Anshuman: Is it ‘Just Cyrus’ or ‘Cyrus’? Why did you suddenly add the just? What are you not telling us?
Shanta: This is very peculiar. Why did you not mention Broacha? Were you not aware of your own surname?
Cyrus: But what has all this got to do with the cricket coach position?
Shanta: Look, if we choose you as India’s next cricket coach, what do we put down as your name? You are not even sure of your own surname. What will we put down on the cheque, my name?
Kapil: Actually that’s not a bad idea.
Anshuman: Yes Shanta, you’ve coached before. You know your cricket. You know how to win.
Kapil: And one thing I've always admired about you Shanta, is you’ve always known your own name……
Anshuman: And your own surname. And by lending that name to women’s cricket…..
Kapil: Also with your surname……
Anushman: You have left women’s cricket richer for it.
Shanta: Should I apply for the job then?
Kapil: If Ravi does not want it, it's yours.
Cyrus: What about me?
Anshuman: Well, it's all to do with names. And quite frankly, you are really struggling.
Cyrus: Meaning? I don’t understand, what’s going on?
Shanta: It's fairly simple. Is your name Ravi?
Cyrus: No. My name is on the form in your hand, along with my surname and cricket credentials.
Anshuman: Cricket credentials? Everybody in India has cricket credentials. Every single Indian has been in a cricket academy, works for a cricket academy, or walks their dog at a cricket academy ground. So, forget credentials. Don’t make a song and dance about credentials.
Kapil: And please, can you concentrate on the name.
Shanta: So, what’s your name?
Cyrus: What, why?
Anshuman: If your name is not Ravi, and your surname is not Shastri, no point applying for the job.
And that’s how the Indian coach was selected. Using the time-honoured traditions of unbiased selection, and impartial, painstaking research and investigation. Congrats to Ravibhai.
The writer is a comedian, TV anchor, theatre personality, satirist, podcaster and an author.