New Delhi: Criticising Duncan Fletcher's coaching reign between 2011-15, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar on Tuesday said that work ethic during the Zimbabwean's tenure was "pretty abysmal" as players reported late in practice sessions.
Fletcher's India coaching stint that started in April 2011, ended on a dismal note after the World Cup concluded in March. India did finish as semi-finalists in the 50-over showpiece event but the team's performance in the Australian tour was criticised.
Ravi Shastri as Team Director has been lauded for his efforts and Gavaskar praises the current set-up as a breath of fresh air.
"I think there is a lot more positivity. There is a lot more purpose to the practice sessions. And that is important, the work ethic is very very important. Under Duncan Fletcher the work ethic was pretty abysmal. Because the players were coming in pretty late to the ground. When they came to the ground it took them 15-20 minutes before they came on to the field to warm-up and practice," Gavaskar told a news channel.
"Now under Shastri and the three coaches it has improved. It can still get better, there is always scope for improvement. Particularly when the team comes for the warm-up there is lot of time wasted just chit-chatting. If they can cut that time out I think they can use that time to focus more on the practice.
"But the team has certainly benefited with the new coaching team under Shastri. You saw Duncan Fletcher, he had no expression at all. Even if they would win, he would have had no expression, but look at Shastri, when the team does well he is gung-ho about it. So these are the little things that matter," he added.
Shastri is heading a three-member coaching staff which includes assistant coach Sanjay Bangar, bowling consultant Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar. Gavaskar terms Shastri's appointment till the 2016 T20 World Cup as a step in the right direction.
"It is a move in the right direction. The captain and the coach and the support staff are working well. For me the way they came back after the loss in the first Test and went on to win the series, that shows character. Now it's never easy to do that particularly in overseas. The credit has to go not only to the captain but also to the Director and the support staff," Gavaskar said.
"They would have actually told the players that look we dominated the first Test for a major part of the game and we just has two or three bad sessions and lost it. So we are clearly a better team. And whatever they said in the dressing room it worked," he added.
Commenting on opinions regarding Shastri being given a
longer tenure even after the World T20 next year, Gavaskar believes that results speak for themselves for his former teammate.
"As long as the results are there, then why not? We have been harping on the process for quite sometime now. The process had started since Greg Chappell took over in 2006-07. But if the results are not there you have got to do something. Now the results are there, the results are coming with these two guys (Shastri and Virat Kohli)," said Gavaskar.
Also coming in strong defence of Shastri regarding the unnecessary aggression on display during the Sri Lanka tour, Gavaskar said that the Team Director might be defending his boys in press conferences but would be giving then a mouthful in the dressing room.
Ishant Sharma's on field verbal duels with Sri Lankan players not only resulted in criticism of the Kohli-led side but also cost the lanky pacer a one-Test ban.
"How do you say it's not happening under his (Shastri) leadership? Because he could be giving them a rocket in the dressing room," Gavaskar reacted on being asked that Shastri has been unable to curb unwanted aggression.
"I think anybody who is a captain and coach will come out and defend his players. But I am pretty certain in my mind that inside the dressinf room he is letting the guys, who are overstepping the line know that it is not the way. You play the game hard, take wickets, score runs but at all times take into account the image of your country. Something that I am pretty certain that Ravi Shastri is telling the boys," he said.