Officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have asked former opener Virender Sehwag to apply for the post of India coach, making him a potential challenger to the incumbent Anil Kumble, who is expected to push for the renewal of his one-year contract that expires later this month. It is learnt that Sehwag was contacted by one of the general managers of the BCCI on the sidelines of an IPL game, and asked to apply for the job of coach.
Kumble has of late been at the forefront of pay negotiations with BCCI members and the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), and has asked for a sharp raise for cricketers and members of the support staff. During his one-year stint, India have won five straight Test series, and risen to the No. 1 position in Tests. Despite his 100 per cent record, the BCCI last week invited applications for the coach’s job, triggering talk that the reasons Kumble was asked to apply for the job again were not merely cricketing.
“We have contacted Sehwag during the IPL and asked him to consider applying for the job of India coach. But he won’t be the only one applying because we expect other former players to also thrown their hats in the ring,” a top BCCI official said.
However, Sehwag told The Sunday Express that he had not been contacted yet with regard to applying for the India coach’s job. It is also learnt that a few Indian players have expressed reservations over Kumble’s continuation as coach. The dressing room’s unhappiness with the coach has been conveyed to the CoA, but the reasons for the rift have not been put on paper. Kumble is at present with the Indian team in England for the Champions Trophy, where India open the defence of their title with a game against Pakistan on June 4.
“The board wants to go through the process of selection of coach again. Also, the next contract is likely to run until the 2019 World Cup, so even the length of the contract has to be taken into consideration before appointing the coach. We don’t want a scenario where the players and the coach are not on the same page,” said a BCCI insider.
All the applicants will have to appear before the high-profile cricket committee — consisting of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman — after May 31, the last day to apply for world cricket’s most coveted job.
Interestingly, a year ago, Ganguly had approached Kumble to apply for the job, and picked him ahead of the then coach Ravi Shastri.
The entire process of selecting the coach will be overseen by BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, with the CoA insisting that BCCI officials should be kept away from the working of the Cricket Committee. “This is to ensure that the process remains fair. We don’t want a scenario where the decision to pick a coach gets influenced by what has happened in the pay negotiations where Kumble is bargaining hard with BCCI officials,” said an official.
There is also an opinion within the CoA that the views of players should not be considered by the Tendulkar-Ganguly-Laxman committee. “We can’t let players decide their coach, this is certainly not the right way to go about the selection,” the official said.
If that happens, it will be departure from the past, when coaches like John Wright, Greg Chappell, Gary Kirsten and Ravi Shastri got the job after they were either handpicked or endorsed by players like Tendulkar, Ganguly or Rahul Dravid.