Ravi Shastri's re-appointment as Team India's coach was like death and taxes. For anyone, who thought that the position of the head coach was up for grabs, was perhaps a bit deluded.
Shastri's camaraderie with the team and the captain's backing regardless of what the Cricket Advisory Committee says, matters and it would have been a very brave decision from the Kapil Dev-led committee to overlook Virat Kohli's wish at the end of the day.
The 57-year-old is a popular figure and more than a coach, Shastri if you look from the outside is a man-manager and a fantastic one at that. Marked by the gutsiness of a typical Mumbaikar and bold nature, his presence and role in a team that has a blend of stars and youngsters is like a perfect foil.
Looking at the other end of the spectrum at his competitors in Mike Hesson and Tom Moody, you see a completely different story. The culture, the style and question marks regarding how would they sit in a team that perhaps have figures larger than the boss itself, makes Shastri's appointment more justifiable. A problem similar to what arose when Anil Kumble was in charge of the team could have always come back to haunt Indian cricket with Hesson and Moody. Kumble, one of the greatest of the game and a sound tactician, failed to manage the team well and he, in the end, had to walk away on a bitter note.
Shastri, on the other hand, has been termed as a 'Yes man' and if you look at it from the outside, it can't be argued. But, it remains an assumption at the end of the day. But, what is certain about Shastri is the fact that he is a big figure and someone, who knows how to make a team work and keep it away from all the scrutiny that happens off the field.
Shastri is little like the Jose Mourinho of the old. Mourinho was all about being a shield and protecting his players from everything that has been going outside. Alongside that, he was a master tactician no doubt but what made him special and his teams successful was the way he managed his dressing room and kept them away from the extensive examination of the English media. A larger than life character, often Mourinho's comments would make him the centre of attraction and the butt of jokes and in the process, the on-field issues that would have been otherwise focussed on, were barely touched upon. That made the team believe in the manager and play without too much fear and Shastri much like Mourinho does that when he is facing the music. And, we all know that this Indian team does play without fear.
Following the argument, the question that crops up is, so why is he the head coach and not a team manager? Well. The answer is Shastri is experienced and able enough to iron out the minor details that need to be pointed out and perhaps the best in the business to motivate the team and push them to the next level. His philosophy matches with that of Kohli's. Hard work, passion and dedication towards success is what he focuses on and that is the hallmark of a great team. Players of the ability of Kohli, Rohit, Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah do not need to be told how to play their game. They are aware of their duties and how to go about them and Shastri here does well to let them do their jobs and intervene when necessary.
So, is Ravi Shastri perfect? Surely not. He has made wrong decisions and he will make more but that's how it is in sports. Sometimes it works, sometimes they don't and even the cult figures in Indian and world cricket can testify to that.
Under Shastri, India have failed to win the World Cup and conquer England but barring that, this team has won almost everything that has been thrown towards them. And, when he said that they played good cricket, he wasn't wrong. Is that a good defense after a 4-1 series loss and semi-final knockout in the World Cup? No! But, it was a fact. India failed to grab the moments and since the England series, they have improved in that aspect as well. In the World Cup, India were the team to beat. They brushed aside everyone in their way barring England and one day of bad cricket pushed them out of the World Cup and one bad day shouldn't be taken into consideration over two good years.
Shastri at the end of the day had two good years with the team and is a loved and respected figure. Kapil Dev & Co., therefore, decided to take the safe route in him and can you really blame them for not trying to fix something that is not yet broken