After the 1-3 Test debacle, Team India witnessed a major reshuffle on the coaching front with bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding consultant Trevor Penney forced to go on a break and BCCI appointing Ravi Shastri as the Team Director. But on the eve of the the first ODI, Dhoni said that Fletcher is still “the boss”.
“He will lead us into the World Cup,” said Dhoni referring to the coach. “Also he is still the boss. We have Ravi Shastri who will look into everything, but Fletcher is the boss. It’s not as if his powers or his position have been curtailed. I don’t know what you feel from the outside, but operations still remain the same. We have a few other support staff coming into the dressing room, but overall the operation remains the same.”
After taking over his director’s role, Shastri did mention that the new coaching staff, including Fletcher, will report to him during the limited-overs series. After Dawes’ and Penney’s ouster, former India all-rounder Sanjay Bangar and ex-pacer Bharat Arun were appointed assistant coaches with R. Sridhar as the fielding coach. Dhoni though clarified that Shastri’s role is more of a manager.
“Ravi is here to oversee the operations from the outside, what he feels and everything else. It’s good to have him. He is a very proud (former) Indian cricketer, and at the same time, very positive. He believes a lot in fighting and having the right instincts, going over and giving his hundred percent. It is obviously good to have him. He also speaks the same language and can interact a lot with the players. Same is the case with other support staff so it is good to have them here,” said Dhoni.
When asked if he was happy with the timing of the changes, the skipper replied, “It’s a bit tough on Trevor (Penney) and Joe (Dawes), especially when fielders drop catches and the fielding coach has to miss the series. But let’s hope for the best. We are welcoming the new guys because that is very important. They will be part of the dressing-room family as of now. We will have to give them some time to adjust to how we operate, and see what kind of input they bring to the table.”
Dhoni are also stressed that the change in format will certainly help reigning ODI champions India bounce back after the Test loss.
“There is no need to remind anyone that we are World Champions. England are quite an intelligent side. Not to forget when we last came here, we won the Champions Trophy. We have had the success. It’s just that we have to stand up and take responsibility, back each other up. Those things will in turn take us forward. It will change the tough times we have had to successful times,” said Dhoni.
“Our preparation has been really good. Whatever days we got we have used them in the best possible way. The psyche also changes with the format. If you see you are under pressure to survive in Test cricket. If you get out playing a shot, there is uproar as to how Test cricket is different and how can you get out playing a shot. That also creates pressure. This format is about expressing yourself and you spend some time on the wicket, and then you have to play big shots,” he added.
England have brought in the hard-hitting Alex Hales into their squad and he is set to form a new opening partnership at the top of their order with skipper Alastair Cook.
For India, there are still question marks about Rohit Sharma opening with Shikhar Dhawan as this combination hasn’t worked in South Africa and New Zealand in the past.
In the 50-over practice game against Middlesex — which India won by 95 runs — though, this same duo opened the innings and it is tough to see any changes coming through as of now.
“We watched Hales’ hundred in the World T20 (in Bangladesh), and not only the hundred, even the last few times he came to over to play T20, we have seen him play.
He is a fantastic batsman, a tall guy so he has a different reach. He also plays the spinners well. It will be a good acquisition for the English side,” said the Indian skipper.
On the question of Rohit as opener, Dhoni replied, “He has been a good opener. Wait and watch. Let there be some excitement about tomorrow’s playing eleven too.”