Indian head coach Ravi Shastri has been speaking about the exclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from the squad for the upcoming India vs Australia ODI series, and has said that avoiding burnout was one of the main reasons for it.
Speaking to the media, Shastri said, “You have a heck of a lot of cricket being played. You have about 25 Test matches being played in the next two years and a similar amount of One-Day games and T20I games. You want a guy operating in a mode in a particular format that is very good from the team point of view. If you look at No.1 and 2 bowlers in the world it is Ashwin and Jadeja (sic – No. 2 and No. 3). If you start playing them across all formats, there will be a burnout.”
“The World Cup is still two years away – there’s enough time to get back. They are known quantity. You have to preserve them for what you are looking for. The emphasis should be on Test match cricket as far as they are concerned. They can play across all three formats. How much you want to use a player – is a decision that has to be taken by the team management.”
Starting August 2015, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have played 27 and 20 test matches respectively, with Ashwin not missing a single test for India in that period. Ashwin was hence rested for the ODI series in West Indies after the conclusion of the ICC Champions Trophy, the ODI series against Sri Lanka, and will continue to be absent from the team for the upcoming ODI series against Australia. Ashwin is currently plying his trade with English county side Worcestershire.
Shastri also spoke about MS Dhoni’s role in the team, after chief selector MSK Prasad had said in Sri Lanka that he was no longer an automatic choice ODIs, and that he needed to keep performing to be in contention for the 2019 World Cup side. “Well if he keeps performing like that, then how can you even think like that,” Shastri said. “He is one of the fittest guys in the team, as far as wicket-keeping goes in ODIs he is the best. Let me tell you, there will be some surprises in store with the bat. I have a feeling there’s something round the corner. In Sri Lanka you just might have seen a trailer.”
“I think a break from Test cricket has been very good for him. For going through all those years as a wicket-keeper across all formats, it was tough. We are very lucky, as a cricket team we are very lucky, the moment he stepped away from Test cricket, we got a guy like Wriddhiman Saha – who when you look around the keepers around the world, he is the best keeper in the world; according to me.”
Finally, Shastri also spoke about the evolution of Virat Kohli as a player and a captain, and tipped him to carry on leading the team for at least the next five to six years. He said, “I think he has evolved magnificently, as a player you can see it in his performances. As a captain you can see the way he handles the media, the way he speaks to the media. Self-confidence as an individual – he has evolved there as well. And the respect he gets from his team-mates as a captain and player – it is tremendous.”
“He is evolving as a captain. I think there is a long way to go. He is only 28, he should be around for another 5-6 years at least as a skipper. He can learn a heck of a lot. The next three years will really define him, I think already he is right up there, but the next three years will be a great learning curve for him.”