Shastri went running across and said ‘If you want to talk to my player, you have to talk to me first’: Ex-BCCI selector

Think of Ravi Shastri. What comes to mind? An elegant batter, a utility all-rounder, a bolt of electricity in the commentary box or just one of India’s most successful coaches? While Shastri may be all of those things, the one word that separates Shastri from the rest is maverick. Shastri has never been one to please people. He is always blunt and in-your-face. His no-nonsense attitude is something he has always carried proudly. Be it shutting down Nasser Hussain’s comments on the Indian team or questioning the authority during the infamous ball tampering episode involving Sachin Tendulkar during India’s 2001 tour of South Africa.

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Even as a player, Shastri never backed down from a challenge. One such incident has been narrated by former India batter Jatin Paranjpe. A former Mumbai batter and a BCCI selector Paranjpe, who made his Ranji Trophy debut under Shastri, recalled an incident that took place during a match between Mumbai and Haryana where his captain took a firm stand for one of his players.

“I remember an incident in a Ranji Trophy match in Haryana. Haryana coach Sarkar Talwar told Paras (Mhambrey) off. Ravi went running across to him and said, ‘If you have to talk to my player, you have to talk to me first.’ Leadership came very naturally to him. Mumbai went through a couple of games that season because Ravi out thought the opposition. He was always confident; he was an outgoing character. He would love to sit at a bar and talk cricket for hours and hours… so very few like him around,” Paranjpe told Rediff.

Shastri and Paranjpe had a fruitful association working together. With Shastri as coach and Paranjpe as national selector, the two had a huge role in earmarking and outlining players who ended up being great finds. Paranjpe lauded Shastri’s keen eye for spotting talent which was evident in the way India played in Australia and England in 2021.

“When I was the national selector and Ravi the head coach of India, the very fact that Ravi and I go back a long way kind of helped create a bond of trust between the selectors and the team management. We understood the players they needed and we kind of kept pipelining, and things kept falling into place, whether it was Mohammed Siraj or Shardul Thakur or Washington Sundar,” added Paranjpe.

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