I’d thank Laxman for his services and ask him to move on: Shastri

Shastri said one or two changes have to be made immediately, but as the next Test series (either in Sri Lanka or at home against New Zealand) is many months away, there’s time to apply one’s mind carefully.

VVS Laxman leaves the field after being dismissed for a duck during day two of the Third Test match between Australia …


Calcutta (The Telegraph):
Former India captain and cricket manager Ravi Shastri spoke to The Telegraph (from Perth) on Sunday afternoon.

The following are excerpts

Q Are you stunned or had you prepared yourself for this horror story?

A Look, I knew Perth would be a difficult venue to stage a comeback, but I expected India to put up a fight... I never expected them to cave in the way they did. More than stunned, I’ve been saddened.

What would you do if you had a decision-making role in Indian cricket?

I’d look around and pick players who have the potential to do well overseas... We’ve got to look to the future... Obviously, one or two changes have to be made immediately, but the next Test series (either in Sri Lanka or at home against New Zealand) is many months away, so there’s time to apply one’s mind carefully.

Just why did we go so wrong? After all, this was the best team, except possibly that there was no Harbhajan Singh...

Which is why this result (0-3 down in a four-Test series) is more worrying... Clearly, Australia’s bowlers had a plan and they swung it from a length... They were clever, they didn’t try and knock your head off, but exposed the technical shortcomings.

What has been the one major difference between the teams?

The consistency of the Australian bowlers... The attack is of high quality and they’ve been very aggressive, not letting India off the hook.

So, we didn’t learn anything from the disaster in England...

Where was the time? England came to India soon after our team returned and, then, we hosted the West Indies.

But isn’t it time for hard decisions?

One at a time... I’d walk up to (V.V.S.) Laxman, who has been such a terrific player for India, thank him for his services, and ask him to move on... He deserves to be treated with respect and there has to be proper communication on an issue such as this.


Also Read:

Clock ticking for India’s veterans

Laxman’s career over after Australia: Reports

The reason India's selectors didn't have a transition plan


What else?

Have more A tours.

Surely not to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe!

I agree with you... We need A tours to England, to Australia and to South Africa... Such tours should become a regular feature.

Looking ahead to the Adelaide Test (from January 24), Rohit Sharma for Laxman and Ajinkya Rahane for one of the openers?

Rohit definitely for Laxman... As for the other change, let’s take it one at a time... (Ravichandran) Ashwin has to come back... In fact, if the conditions so warrant, I’d play both spinners (Pragyan Ojha being the other).

[Shortly after this interview, news came that captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had been banned for one Test. Virender Sehwag, one of the big failures, will now lead in Adelaide. The big gloves are going to be worn by Wriddhiman Saha.]

It’s hard to believe that the technician, Rahul Dravid, has been bowled in eight of his last ten Test innings. What’s happened to him?

There are times when age catches up... Rahul’s got slower on his feet and Australia’s bowlers have a plan for him... He could get away in England, because the wickets there were slower, not so in Australia.

If you were Dravid, what would you do between now and Adelaide?

I’d be working out at nets and studying my footage... Rahul has an excellent work ethic and I’m sure he’ll do exactly that.

You’ve got a double hundred in Australia (206 at the SCG, in 1991-92). What does it take to succeed Down Under?

A good backfoot game and knowing where your off-stump is... If you’re an opener, you’ve got to see off the first 15-20 overs. That’s a must, otherwise you’re inviting trouble.

Mental toughness?

Yes, of course... You need to be mentally strong, for the Australians will come hard at you... They’ll be relentless... Basically, you’ve got to walk the talk.

What’s your message to a team which has been battered?

That it can’t get worse than this and, so, start to think afresh and get big runs on the board in Adelaide. Losing 1-3 will be better than 0-4.

For all the minuses, Umesh Yadav has been brilliant and Virat Kohli stood up to the pressure in Perth...

The Perth Test could be the turning point for Virat as a Test batsman... He was most impressive... As for Umesh, he’s got a good action, has the speed and swings it away at that pace... He was off rhythm at the SCG, but outstanding at the MCG and in Perth... Both Virat and Umesh should serve Indian cricket for a number of years.

How much of the blame should rest on Dhoni’s shoulders?

It’s not fair to point fingers at Dhoni... What can a captain do if his team keeps scoring below 200? Having said that, in Test cricket, his captaincy could improve... Dhoni tends to go on the defensive far too quickly... He’s got to remember that the essence of Test cricket is taking wickets... He should think of defending as a last resort only.

There have been calls for Dhoni’s head...

And replace it with whose head? I don’t subscribe to this view.

But should Dhoni have talked of possibly quitting Test cricket, around the end of 2013, on the eve of such a crucial game?

I wasn’t there at that press conference... Looking back, he’ll realise that the timing wasn’t great... But these are hard times (for Dhoni) and he’ll learn.

Has coach Duncan Fletcher been doing enough?

He can’t captain sitting in the dressing room, can he?

Finally, what’s your take on Michael Clarke’s captaincy? Have we made him look better than he actually is?

No... Clarke’s been very good, always wanting to take the game forward... In my view, he should have got the captaincy 12-14 months ago and that would’ve helped Ricky Ponting as well... As captain, Clarke’s proactive... I like that.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Moores gets second stint as England coach

Moores gets second stint as England coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »