Kolkata: Who could succeed Ravi Shastri as the next Indian cricket team’s coach ? The favourite topic of Indian cricket fans have resurfaced over the last couple of days - but this time with good reasons.
The first signal came when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) released an ad on their website a few days back asking for the Head of National Cricket Academy (NCA), a post being held by Rahul Dravid with distinction for the last two years. It made a perfect case of adding up two and two four and speculate if Dravid, who had agreed to step in as head coach for the second Indian team which visited Sri Lanka for the white ball series in July, is finally game to take the over the hot seat.
What made the conclusion easier are reports that Shastri, who would be completing his third two-year term with the T20 World Cup in the UAE in November, is apparently not keen to continue in the position anymore. The former Indian allrounder had been there and done that in that position - first stint being between 2014 and 2016, then again from 2017 to 2019 after the removal of Anil Kumble and the ongoing one.
The key members of his support staff - bowling coach Bharat Arun, serving the team since 2014, batting coach Vikram Rathour as well as fielding coach R. Sridhar are all apparently sitting on lucrative offers from IPL franchises for the 2022 season - which will see a mega auction as well as two new franchises in the fray. The current protocol, as per Justice R.M.Lodha Commission’s recommendations, still bars any member of Indian coaching staff from taking up other assignments on the potential ground of conflict of interest.
The equation, however, is not that simple as Dravid - who had in the past turned down feelers for the national head coach’s post - is like to re-apply for the post of NCA Head as the term for that position expires this month. The deadline for application for the post is August 15 (Sunday), but the last may not be heard on the issue of Shastri’s successor even if ‘The Wall’ applies for the NCA position again as it offers him a comfort zone - barring being a few kilometres drive from his residence in Bengaluru.
The point to ponder, however, is will Dravid be the right choice to replace someone like Shastri? The man who is credited with providing the country an assembly line of talent during his coaching days for the Under-19 and India A team commands huge respect from the cricketing fraternity - and nobody will question his credentials. However, the head coach and captain’s posts in the senior Indian team are a different ballgame and calls for a pacifist approach.
The right candidate has to manage the skyhigh expectations often with a thick skin as well as take care of super egos - failing which - survival can become difficult.
It's still early days and the BCCI will only think of crossing the bridge when they come near it - while a successful World T20 campaign for India on UAE shores may even provide a twist in the tale!