Outgoing India head coach Ravi Shastri has questioned the purpose of bilateral white-ball series, admitting that he struggles to recall any that he has presided over during his time with the senior India side.
In a wide-ranging with The Guardian, in which he reflects on his time as head coach and addresses some of the criticism directed at him in the wake of his controversial book launch that was at the centre of Covid-19 controversy that led to the cancellation of the Manchester Test, Shastri questioned the point of bilateral white-ball cricket, given the rise in prominence of franchise tournaments around the world.
Commenting on international cricket’s congested fixture list, Shastri suggested that bilateral T20I series should be the first to go. “I would like to see less and less bilateral T20 cricket,” said Shastri. “Look at football. You have the Premier League, the Spanish league, the Italian league, the German league. They all come together [for the Champions League]. There are few bilateral football [friendlies] now. The national teams only play for the World Cup or World Cup qualifying.
“I think that’s the way T20 cricket should go. Spread the game in different countries, and take it to the Olympics. But cut down on those bilateral games and give time for the players to rest, recuperate and play Test cricket.”
“They [the players] all believe the same. There is enough franchise cricket. That is working. But what is the point of bilateral? In my seven years with this Indian team I don’t remember one white-ball game. If you win a World Cup final you will remember it and that’s the only thing left for me as a coach. Otherwise you bloody cleaned up everything across the globe. I don’t remember a single [white-ball] game. Test matches? I remember every ball. Everything.
“But the volume is too much. We beat Australia 3-0 in the T20 series. We beat New Zealand 5-0 in New Zealand. Who cares? But beating Australia in two Test series in Australia? Winning Tests in England? I remember that.”