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On a day when fans were weighing the pros and cons of changes made to the Indian ODI squad for the home series against Australia, the BCCI sacked bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh without giving reasons for the dumping.
All that a BCCI release said was that "the services of Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh are being discontinued with immediate effect."
Later in the day, it was learnt that the decision was based on a report filed by coach Gary Kirsten to BCCI president Shashank Manohar after India's ICC Champions Trophy debacle.
According to a top BCCI official, Kirsten had blamed bowling and fielding for the first-round exit in South Africa.
"He also mentioned that Ishant Sharma wasn't the bowler he once was. This is the first step, we will be naming the replacements after consulting Kirsten. Right now there is no short-list," the official said.
When contacted in Bangalore, Prasad said it was a bolt from the blue. "I called BCCI secretary N Srinivasan and he told me that the decision was taken because the recent show by our bowlers was not up to the mark. I was disappointed and shocked," Prasad told The Indian Express. "I didn't see this coming."
Prasad said it was the first mail he got from the BCCI since taking over as bowling coach in 2007. "Robin and I never got a contract. We had mailed them several times in the last two years, requesting for a contract with proper terms and conditions and the duration of our tenure. But they never replied," he said.
'Did they speak to captain, coach?'
"What's most surprising is that if one takes an overview of the performance of our bowlers since I was made the bowling coach two years ago, they played a big role in India's success. I've got no clue if they spoke to the captain, coach or players in the team. The bowlers have had one bad series and they sack the bowling coach. In case the batsmen have a bad series, will they sack the coach too? Gary Kirsten should speak on our behalf since he knows what we've done," he added.
The "one bad series" that Prasad was referring to was the ICC Champions Trophy where skipper MS Dhoni had blamed India's early exit on a poor show from pace bowlers. Post-South Africa, the one-time pace prodigy Ishant Sharma's missing bite became part of a national debate, with past coaches of the youngster pointing fingers at Prasad.
"I don't know if it was the ICC Champions Trophy show or the specific Ishant Sharma problem that led to this," Prasad said. "It could even be because of people who were too ready to give their opinions on Ishant. I don't want to name anyone but it's all very confusing," he said.
Recently, former Delhi coach Manoj Prabhakar had been critical of Prasad, blaming him for Ishant's loss of form.
"We need to have patience with the players. I did all that I could to prepare the bowlers. I was diligent, I left no stone unturned and did all I could. After that, it's up to the bowlers, I can't go out and bowl," he said.
"We won the series in England, we won the World T20, we won a Test at Perth, the tri-series in Australia, the home series against Australia, and the away series in New Zealand. You take out the scoresheets and look at the role the bowlers played in these triumphs."
But Prasad said that while he was disappointed, he wasn't bitter. "I did what I could to the best of my ability. I'm an optimistic person - if one door closes, another will open."

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