Sandeep Patil, the current chairman of selectors, is the biggest name in the first rush of applicants for India’s head coach job. Indians have thrown their hat in first in the ring couple of days after Indian cricket board invited applications for the position. Current selector Vikram Rathour, Pravin Amre, Lalchand Rajput, and Hrishikesh Kanitkar are all set to apply. Though Ravi Shastri, whose tenure as team director ended recently, is yet to formally apply, it’s just matter of time before he does.
“Yes, I have applied for Indian team coach job,” Sandeep Patil told The Indian Express. Patil took over as chairman of selectors in September 2012, and his four-year term is about to end. Patil has sent his CV to BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke.
It’s easy to see why a lot of Indian coaches are showing interest in the job. One of the nine criteria listed in the application by the BCCI was regarding communication with the team: “The ability to communicate in an Indian language is desirable but by no means mandatory”.
Already, there has been a bit of drama over the language clause. The initial line in the application had mentioned “Hindi and other Indian languages” before the board issued a correction a day later to include that it was not mandatory, and also removed the mention of Hindi to make it more generic. “It is desirable to communicate in Hindi and other regional Indian languages” clause was changed to The ability to communicate in an Indian language is desirable but by no means mandatory”.
The second criteria of the board was that the candidates should be preferably certified coaches. “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.” It’s not mandatory but preferable. Two of the last three coaches of India – Shastri ( a team director) and Gary Kirsten were not certified coaches, and Kirsten in particular had a stellar record with India.
Patil has coached Indian team in 1996 but his role was terminated in six months after India lost a Test series in England. Patil took it on the chin then, and moved over to coach Kenya where he had a more successful run, taking them to the semi-final of the 2003 World Cup. He returned to coach India A before moving back to coaching the minnow team Oman, whom he helped them qualify for the ICC Trophy.
In the past, he has talked about his coaching philosophy of putting players first. “It is a wrong idea people are carrying that Sandeep Patil made Kenya reach the semis. It is absolutely rubbish. I just enjoyed that tournament that’s it … A single guy cannot help a team succeed. It has to be a combined effort. It is mainly the players who have to contribute because a coach’s job is restricted. A coach can do his bit only till the players cross the boundary line.”
Patil had jumped to the parallel league of Indian Cricket League but came back to the folds of the BCCI later. He became the director of National Cricket Academy in 2009 before the then president N Srinivasan brought him as chairman of selectors to replace Krishnamachari Srikanth, and sideline Mohinder Amarnath. Patil’s experience with the NCA would also help him meet one of the criteria for the job as listed by BCCI. “Demonstrate plans and ability to contribute to the NCA Cricket Development Programmes and forecasting/planning to develop the next generation cricketer and agree to make themselves available for the NCA, as and when they are not with the team,” was the ninth, and the last, requisite in the application.
Interestingly, when he was with NCA, Patil had overseen several former Indian cricketers undertake coaching certification programme. Players like Bangar, Rathour, Kanitkar, Amol Mujumdar, Sairaj Bahutule, and Shiv Sunder Das, did their courses with the NCA.
A top BCCI official stated that there is no reason he can see why Patil can’t apply for the job. “His tenure is coming to an end and he fulfills the criteria to become a coach. Any current selector can apply,” a BCCI official stated.
Vikram Rathour is one such “current selector” who is all set to apply. “I haven’t applied for the post (yet). But my tenure (as a national selector) ends in September, so it’s not a bad idea. Coaching is something I have done before,” Rathour told The Indian Express. Rathour has coached Punjab ranji team, which would help meet him the first requisite to becoming the head coach as listed by BCCI. “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,” the BCCI had said.
Sanjay Bangar, who is currently been sent with Indian team for Zimbabwe, is too expected to apply for the job. Amre has coached Mumbai ranji team, and these days is known for being a batting coach who has done work with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, and Shreyas Iyer.
The biggest name, though, remains Shastri. Many Indian players have already sent a good feedback about him to BCCI, lauding his role as team director after taking over from Duncan Fletcher last year.