About half an hour before going into the India coach selection meeting, Sourav Ganguly conceded he had made a mistake in 2005 by throwing his weight behind Greg Chappell. Back then, he was the all-powerful captain of the Indian team and the Australian was his preferred choice to take over from John Wright. Eleven years down the line, he hoped to do things “correctly” with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman by his side. The three greats are in the BCCI-appointed four-member committee that has the responsibility to pick the new head coach of the national cricket team.
“I once had an opportunity to select the coach. I thought I messed it up in 2005. I’m given that opportunity again. Hopefully we will do it correctly this time, whoever it is… Luckily, I have got support in Sachin, VVS, the BCCI secretary and president. Together we will pick the right person,” Ganguly said at a book launch programme before he headed to the coach selection meeting.
Chappell’s stint lasted only two years. But that was the period of upheaval in Indian cricket and Ganguly, ironically, became its worst sufferer. This time, a more elaborate process has been taken to pick the right man.
Pravin Amre was the first to appear for the interview and presentation as Sanjay Jagdale (convener), Tendulkar (via Skype), Laxman and Ganguly started the process around 2pm at a south Kolkata hotel. Anil Kumble and Lalchand Rajput were next in line. Kumble, a former India captain, doesn’t have any previous coaching experience at first class or international level. Nor is he ‘qualified through a certification/assessment program conducted by any of the Full Member countries’. But the BCCI seems open to bend rules for a player of his stature. Else, Kumble’s application wouldn’t have been entertained. In fact, the great leg-spinner is said to be one of the frontrunners to get the job as the cricket board aims to take the Indian team to the next level. India didn’t have much overseas success in the past five-odd years with the 2013 Champions Trophy title their tenuous link to glory. The 2-1 Test series win in Sri Lanka last year came after 15 defeats in the longer format away from home.
Ravi Shastri, who served as India’s team director for 20 months before his contract expired following the team’s exit from the World T20, was believed to be a strong contender as well. Shastri didn’t appear for the interview in person, joining via video linkup instead. Things have become even more interesting with Tom Moody, who most recently took Sunrisers Hyderabad to the IPL title, throwing his hat into the ring.
Former Australia batting allrounder Stuart Law and Englishman Andy Moles, who had impressed as Afghanistan coach, were other notable overseas aspirants to present their cases before the committee via video conference. “We interviewed Amre, Kumble, Rajput in the first session. Shastri interacted via video. And now we look forward to interview some overseas candidates like Tom Moody, Stuart Law and Andy Moles. There are about 10 people in the list and we intend to finish the process and send our recommendation to the BCCI by tonight,” Ganguly said
Later, after the marathon coach selection meeting was over, he said: “We have made our choice after interviewing seven aspirants but please don’t ask me the name. We will send it to the BCCI.” The cricket board is likely to make the official announcement following its working committee meeting in Dharamsala on Friday.