Ravi Shastri: Would like to see less and less bilateral T20 cricket

India coach Ravi Shastri opens up on his time as the head coach, the viability of bilateral T20 cricket and why India sat out the Manchester Test.

India coach Ravi Shastri has questioned the viability of bilateral T20I cricket in the international schedule.   -  AFP

India coach Ravi Shastri has questioned the viability of bilateral T20I cricket in the international schedule. In an interview with The Guardian, Shastri said he would like to see "less and less" bilateral T20Is. “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 [and other major tournaments like the European Championships, Copa America and the Africa Cup of Nations]. 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,” he said.

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Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar, returned positive RT-PCR tests for Covid-19 ahead of the fifth and final Test against England, which was eventually cancelled after India’s physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar too returned a positive test and the Indian players expressed concern about the Covid cases. Asked if he knew about Parmar testing positive, Shastri said: “No. I didn’t know who had got it. I didn’t know [the physio] got it suddenly and tested positive. He physically treated five or six players. I think that’s where the issue started. We were aware that the incubation period meant that someone might get it in the middle [of the Test]. A lot of players had their families there. So it became a situation where you don’t know what that player is thinking. He’s got a young kid, you know, he’s got to think of them. It was a little, I would say, touchy.”

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Shastri’s contract runs till the end of the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to be played in the United Arab Emirates and Oman from October 17 to November 14. About his time with the team, Shastri said, “I’ve achieved all I wanted. Five years as No 1 [in Test cricket], to win in Australia twice, to win in England. I spoke to Michael Atherton earlier this summer and said: ‘For me, this is the ultimate – to beat Australia in Australia and win in England in Covid times.’ We lead England 2-1, and the way we played at Lord’s and the Oval was special. If we win the [T20] World Cup, that will be the icing on the cake. There is nothing more. I believe one thing – never overstay your welcome."

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