The BCCI-appointed four-member committee comprising Sanjay Jagdale, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman will take a major step towards appointing India’s head coach on Tuesday. They will choose from a shortlist of 21 aspirants during a meeting, scheduled at a south Kolkata hotel from 1.30pm to 7pm on Tuesday. The candidates will appear for interviews and will submit presentations. Some will be hooked up via video. The buzz around the whole thing is about picking the preferred one but BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke has asked for patience.
“Tomorrow (Tuesday)’s meeting may or may not give finality to the whole process. There might be more meetings before the committee selects the new head coach of the Indian team. We intend to announce the name after our working committee meeting (in Dharamsala) on June 24, but if the committee feels it requires more time, we can extend the deadline,” Shirke told The Indian Express. “The committee has an impeccable pedigree and no way are we going to interfere,” he added.
High profile candidates
Ravi Shastri, Anil Kumble and Sandeep Patil are the three most high-profile Indian names among the aspirants and according to an insider, they are coming to Kolkata for the interview. Apart from these three, Pravin Amre and Lalchand Rajput are also expected to be appear for the interview.
Shastri served as India’s team director for 20 months before his contract expired following the team’s exit from the World T20. Patil is the current chairman of selectors whose term ends in September. He had earlier coached India, in 1996, and also presided over Kenya’s march to the 2003 World Cup semi-final. But Kumble’s application seems to have made matters interesting.
The cricket board’s advertisement, seeking application for the position of head coach clearly mentioned: “(The candidates) should have successfully coached a cricket team of any of the member countries of the ICC, at the first class or at the international level”. It also said: “It is preferred that the candidate should be qualified through a certification/assessment program conducted by any of the Full Member countries and currently possess such a valid certification”.
Kumble doesn’t meet either of those criteria. His tenuous link to the dug-out is restricted to mentoring Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians. “It doesn’t really matter for a player of his stature,” said a source close to the BCCI-appointed committee. The former India captain is the country’s highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 619 scalps from 132 matches. He is considered to be one of the favourites for the post.
According to the source, the vision to win abroad could be a key factor in landing the job. India had lost 15 away Tests between 2011 and 2015 before winning 2-1 in Sri Lanka last year. Though the team will play 13 home Tests in the coming season, but with the new coach likely to get a three-year contract — till the 2019 World Cup — an overseas improvement model might be sought. The three great cricketers in the committee — Tendulkar to join the discussion through video conference — took massive pride in winning matches on foreign soil during their playing days. In Virat Kohli, they have a like-minded Test captain at present.
A BCCI official insists that some foreign candidates with “top credentials”, too, have applied for the job. He didn’t reveal the name, but former Australia batting allrounder Stuart Law, who coached Bangladesh, was said to have thrown his hat into the ring.
“We are going into the meeting with an open mind. Let’s see how things turn out. We will forward our recommendation to (BCCI) secretary’s office,” said a committee member. The choice has to be ratified by the working committee for official announcement.