When Cricket Advisory Committee head Kapil Dev announced that Ravi Shastri would retain the post of Team India coach, it did not come as a surprise to many. Despite India exiting the World Cup at the semifinal stage, Shastri’s appointment was widely expected. At that time many thought that Shastri’s good rapport played a huge role in his re-appointment although Kapil Dev had denied asking the India skipper for inputs.
However, if reports are to be believed then Shastri had nearly lost the race to former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson. A senior Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) functionary said that it was a close call between Shastri and Hesson and the latter’s track record as New Zealand coach had almost sealed the job for him
“It was not a walk in the park for Shastri as some of you seem to believe. Hesson was really close to getting the go-ahead. It is there for all to see how the New Zealand team improved by leaps and bounds under him across all formats,” the BCCI official told IANS.
“From being the perennial surprise package in big-ticket events, they had become a champion side under him and that is something that really impressed the CAC.
“Under his coaching, the Kiwis reached their first-ever World Cup final in 2015. While he did resign in 2018, the Kiwis playing their second final on the trot in 2019 also had a lot to do with what Hesson brought to the table. His strategizing with the senior members in the team can’t be discounted,” the official explained.
Hesson has ample coaching experience. He has previously coached New Zealand and Kenya. He has also coached franchise teams like Kings XI Punjab and Otago Volts. Hesson made a name for himself during his stint with New Zealand.
Hesson, who took up coaching at the young age of 22 in Otago, replaced John Wright in 2012 as New Zealand coach. Regarded by Brendon McCullum as the Black Caps’ greatest ever mentor, Hesson enjoyed a highly successful stint. His finest moment came in 2015 when he led the country to its first-ever World Cup final.
Under his guidance, New Zealand rose to the pinnacle of T20I rankings, number 2 in ODIs and number 3 in Tests. Last year, New Zealand won their first-ever Test series over England since 1999. Overall, New Zealand won 21 of their 53 Tests, losing 19 under Hesson. In ODIs, they won 65 of their 119 ODIs with 46 losses and in T20Is won 30 of their 59.
The official further said that Shastri’s experience as a player on the international stage turned the tide in his favour.
“The CAC felt that Shastri’s proven record as a player was one area that needed to be give due recognition as one’s own stature might become an area of concern when handling a team which has big names.
“Hesson hadn’t played enough cricket himself and as we know started coaching in his early twenties. Shastri on the other hand played 80 Test matches and 150 ODIs. That is something that went against the Kiwi,” the functionary said.
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