Vinod Rai Opens Up About How Ravi Shastri Was Selected As Team India Coach: Former COA chief Vinod Rai ahead of the release of his new Book: Not just a Nightwatchman: My innings in the BCCI, spoke at length with Marya Shakil about his experience as the COA chief, the controversy surrounding the selection process of India coach and the reason behind Ravi Shastri getting the job, adding that former India captain Virat Kohli had no role to play in appointing Shastri as the head coach as was largely reported in the media, terming the entire episode as ‘widely speculated.’

While speaking about the speculation, Rai said, “Thank you for saying that it was widely ‘speculated’. Yes, there were lots of speculations going around. At one point in time, it was even believed that Virender Sehwag was joining and we were told, ‘Look, you guys are going to be choosing Sehwag.’ Well, Ravi Shastri had been a head coach (team director) earlier. His tenure seems to have been a good tenure but it was much before us so we were not exposed to it. So, I really cannot comment upon how well he handled the team at that point in time. But, when we advertised this, we sat in the selection process and the selection was not done by us. It was done by the legendary group of cricket players – (Sachin) Tendulkar, (Sourav) Ganguly and VVS Laxman -icons of the game. They did the selection. They found among the presentations that were done, Ravi Shastri’s stood out the best.”

KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya were suspended by the BCCI following their outrage-evoking comments on women in a television show and were sent back home in the first available flight from Australia.

When being asked whether the punishment was harsh, the former COA chief said that the board took a balanced stand and he woud like to believe that they were fairly reasonable with them.

“Thank you for saying that it was harsh. I have just been told in an interview that I did that we were indulgent on them. Both the players are young. They probably didn’t realise that they were on national TV. When you are young, inexperienced and not trained in communication – the dressing room banter kind of breaks out and comes out. Now what they did was a very regretful thing. They should not have used the words that they used. They expressed remorse when it was pointed out to them. They were withdrawn from the teams. But they were withdrawn only for two games. We put them back and I am on record to say that that punishment was enough for them. When their case went before the ethics officer – who was a retired SC judge – he fined them 20 lakhs each. At no point did I feel that we were harsh towards them. I think we took a kind of balanced stand. On one hand, you can’t ruin a player’s career because of his off the field misdemeanours. On the other, you can’t let them off totally because what they say in public is what represents the team. They made very unfair comments; so to that extent, I feel we were fairly reasonable with them,” added the 73-year-old.