Trio of new coaches for India raises eyebrows

Ravi Shastri (Getty Images)
Ravi Shastri (Getty Images)

New Delhi - A surprise decision by India's cricket board to appoint two high-profile stars to assist new coach Ravi Shastri has some experts wondering how much autonomy the former all-rounder will wield at the helm.

The cricket board ended months of speculation Tuesday in naming Shastri to replace Anil Kumble, who resigned as head of the world's top Test side following a bitter fallout with skipper Virat Kohli.

Shastri's appointment was widely expected but the board's decision to name ex-players Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid as bowling and batting consultants raised eyebrows.

Traditionally, the Board of Control for Cricket in India allows the head coach to pick support staff and the break with convention did not go unnoticed.

"The coach has now got appendages. The BCCI has added more arsenal to the support staff," prominent cricket commentator and columnist Ayaz Memon told AFP.

"The problem could be of too many people."

Shastri, 55, edged out a host of high-profile contenders for the top job, including Virender Sehwag, Australia's Tom Moody, Englishman Richard Pybus and former India manager Lalchand Rajput.

Speculation had been rife that Shastri, who served as India's team director between 2014 and 2016, would get the nod, especially given his friendly ties with Kohli.

"If Dravid batting consultant and Zaheer bowling coach, is Shastri more "team director" again?" wrote leading Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle on Twitter.

Cricketer-turned commentator Aakash Chopra suggested Shastri's new role differed little from his old one, saying: "only the designation changes!"

A panel tasked by the Supreme Court with overseeing the affairs of India's scandal-ridden cricket board appeared pleased with the selection.

"It is a comprehensive recommendation covering all aspects of the coaching requirement of any team," it said in a statement Wednesday.

"Now that they have made the choice, we sincerely feel that the new combination will steward the team to number one position in the World Cup."

Shastri's first assignment starts later this month when India tours Sri Lanka for three Tests starting July 26.

The duration of his post, and that of Khan and Dravid, is two years until the World Cup in 2019.

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