Ravi Shastri has donned several roles in Indian cricket. The former all-rounder turned into a successful commentator before serving as Team India’s head coach from 2017 to 2021. However, he also fulfilled the role of the team director for the national side twice, in 2007 (during the Bangladesh tour) and from 2014 to 2016.
Before his appointment as India’s team director in 2014, during MS Dhoni & Co.’s England tour, Shastri had no time to react as the BCCI asked him to come onboard as soon as possible. Back then, he was part of the commentary panel for India-England Tests, where the Dhoni-led visitors were being hammered left, right and center (eventually losing 3-1).
Recalling his appointment, Shastri told The Guardian, “I had no warning. I was commentating at the Oval during India’s  tour of England and came off air to find six or seven missed calls. ‘Seven bloody calls? What’s happened here?’. [The BCCI] just said: ‘We want you to take over, starting tomorrow, at any cost.’ I told them I’d have to speak to my family and commercial partners but they just said they would sort all that out. And like that, I was straight in from the commentary box. You’ll see when I joined the setup [during the ODIs], I was still in jeans and loafers. Instantly my job changed.”
After serving as the team director for two years, Shastri was the frontrunner to be India’s next coach post Duncan Fletcher’s end of tenure. Shastri continued his job as the team director despite Fletcher’s exit in 2015. However, Anil Kumble took over as the head coach for a year, in 2016, before the job went to Shastri post the 2017 Champions Trophy. The former cricketer recalled his first agenda after taking over as the head coach of Team India.
“We also had slingers [coaches with dogsticks] in the nets smashing the ball in at 160kph from 16 yards. Guys had no choice. There was no dodging, I’d stand behind the stumps to make sure of that. No matter who the person was, he had to go through that. The slingers would seriously let it rip and guys would look ugly. But you are meant to look ugly in the nets. In England, you have to grind and earn your runs.”
“The same with the bowlers, we told them to stick in because there is a five-wicket session at any given time in England and at Lord’s and the Oval this decided the result. And we knew winning in Australia or England wasn’t coming with spin, it was fast bowlers, guys with aggression like Jasprit Bumrah. We were instrumental in making sure that guy played Test cricket. You don’t even need express pace, you just need attitude,” Shastri opined.
Under Shastri, India were dominant across formats in bilateral series — winning two Tests in Australia and gaining an unassailable 2-1 lead over England in the incomplete five Tests in the United Kingdom — played the 2019 ODI World Cup semi-finals and inaugural WTC final.