Indian cricket team is currently going through a wonderful phase. After blanking Sri Lanka 9-0, the men in blue started off with a win against the Australians at Chennai and will take the on the wounded Kangaroos at Kolkata on Thursday. The team over the past couple of years has gelled really well, under the leadership of Virat Kohli. Kohli, ever since getting the captaincy on permanent basis, has really taken his game to the next level and is currently in a league of his own. Indian team has also developed a core group of players in Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami and the team has responded really well under this group of players.
How much of a role does coach play? Is importance of coach overrated? What is the main work of coach? These questions in context of current timeline seems quite obvious as teams have placed too much importance on coach and his support staff. Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri in his second innings as coach (first stint as team director) has already started making a difference as players have responded well to his methods and the results are there for everyone to see. Indian team since the turn of the century had coaches such as John Wright, Greg Chappell, Gary Kirsten, Duncan Fletcher, Anil Kumble and now incumbent coach Ravi Shastri. With the obvious exception of Chappell, all other individuals stayed in the background and the team was run by captain and coach was more there as a mentor of sorts.
International cricket is very hard fought and cut throat and you need your coach or manager to be level headed and should inspire confidence in players. The coach should help the players in rectifying their technical deficiency, their lack of confidence and should mentor young players, when they come into the international arena. All the successful coaches in any sporting arena have always played second fiddle to the captain and it is players, who have to make decisions on the field and they are accountable for their performances. The coach has to be a good manager in managing different personalities and egos and should bring the best out of them and should be a unifying force in the change room.
Ravi Shastri comes across as a straightforward individual and gets stick sometimes for being too close to the hierarchy and not being his own man. After the fiasco of Shastri’s predecessor Anil Kumble resigning sighting differences with Virat Kohli, Shastri has steadied the ship and the results are there for everyone to see. The former Indian captain has managed the team quite well and youngsters like Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah have performed really well under the new structure.
The test for any coach comes, when the results don’t go his way and Shastri’s success will be measured by India’s performance in overseas conditions, where India have traditionally struggled to make an impact. Indian team has performed really well irrespective of any coach, but have faltered at the final hurdle with losing in summit clashes (2014 World T20, final vs Sri Lanka; 2015 World Cup, semi-final vs Australia; 2016 World T20, semi-final vs West Indies; 2017 Champions Trophy, final vs Pakistan). Indian team has to get over this hurdle and the team of Kohli and Shastri has to start winning silverware to make India on and off the field a complete powerhouse.