Former India head coach Ravi Shastri, renowned for his candid remarks, recently made a surprising revelation during his commentary stint at the 2023 World Cup. During the opening World Cup fixture between England and New Zealand at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Shastri, who was on commentary, didn't hold back in offering his insights, particularly about Indian players' approach to change.
Ravi Shastri, who served as India's head coach from 2017 to 2021 before being succeeded by Rahul Dravid, had a mixed tenure at the helm. While India couldn't secure an ICC title during his tenure, they achieved remarkable success in bilateral series, including historic Test series wins in Australia. However, it was his recent comments that garnered attention.
During the World Cup match commentary, Shastri took a veiled jab at Indian players, implying that some of them displayed a stubborn reluctance to embrace change, contrasting this with the adaptive approach of England's Joe Root. Shastri commended Root for his flexibility and willingness to adapt his playing style for the team's benefit.
Shastri's comments shed light on his experiences while coaching the Indian team, indicating that certain players were hesitant to change their tactics due to fear of losing their established methods. He noted, “You get batters who are so stubborn. I speak from experience of sitting in a dressing room where a lot of players were hesitant to make a change because they're afraid of what they might lose.”
This revelation raises intriguing questions about the mindset of Indian players during Shastri's tenure. When asked if the players ignored his advice, Shastri clarified, “No, no. I literally had to push them to try something different.
“Because they are so used to accumulating those runs over the years. Sometimes you forget you've got to evolve with the times. Because the opponent is evolving. He knows your game. He is upon you.”
Shastri's comments, which came shortly after Root’s reverse hit for six, underscore the challenge of keeping up with the rapidly changing dynamics of modern cricket. It also brings to the fore another question around India’s senior batters and their hesitancy to adapt to the modern style of limited-overs batting, something that has been a hot topic of debate in the recent past.
While Shastri's tenure as head coach yielded significant achievements, including historic series victories in Australia, the comments hint at one of the possible reasons why India were trophy-less during his time. The reluctance to change, as he suggests, might have hindered the team's progress in certain situations.
As Indian cricket continues its journey under new leadership and with fresh faces, Shastri's revelation comes as a big hit to the senior crop of players. While it’s unclear which player he was commenting on, a shift in the mindset of Indian players has been seen in recent times. Whether it transpires into a World title at home remains to be seen.