Dubai: It’s now official: the future of Ravi Shastri as the head coach and his assistant coaches after the West Indies tour in August is not secure anymore. The Indian cricket board has invited applications on Tuesday for all the four coaches of the senior team, signalling their intent to overhaul the coaching staff who had been in charge of the Indian team since 2017.
The posts thrown open for recruitment are that of head coach, batting coach (Sanjay Bangar), bowling coach (Bharat Arun) and fielding coach (R.Sridhar), alongwith physiotherapist, strength & conditioning coach and administrative manager with July 30 as the cut-off date for receiving applications.
“The current coaching staff of Team India (Senior Men) will get an automatic entry in the recruitment process,” the press release issued on behalf of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) in charge of BCCI says. This implies Shastri and the three coaches, who received a 45-day extension of their contract in view of the tour of West Indies following soon after the just-concluded World Cup, will not have to apply afresh but their candidature will come up for selection after the intense criticism of India’s failure to reach the final.
The post-mortem of India’s performance in the showpiece has, by all accounts, pointed fingers at the ruling combine of captain Virat Kohli and Shastri of taking unilateral decisions, failing to come up with a stable middle order line-up despite enough time and questionable strategy during some of the key matches.
Shastri, who made a comeback as the head coach two years back after an unceremonious exit of Anil Kumble, had done so as captain Kohli’s preferred choice though reports suggest that the then Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S.Laxman were not unanimous about the choice. The trio of greats had, in their recommendations, suggested the names of Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan as consultants for batting and bowling - which were ignored down by Shastri.
Speculations are now rife if Shastri, who had asked for an extension till the World T20, can survive beyond the West Indies tour. A lot will once again boil down to Kohli’s stance about him as he has the eyes and ears of Vinod Rai, the chairman of CoA. However, the selection process will not be without it’s twists and turns as the BCCI will have to dominate a new set of CAC first as Tendulkar and Ganguly have already submitted their resignations about accusation of conflict of interest. An ad-hoc CAC, comprising of Kapil Dev, Shanta Rangaswami and Anshuman Gaikwad had selected W.V.Raman as the national women’s team’s head coach a few months back.
It will be interesting to see if Shastri can get a lifeline till the World T20 next year as per his wishes - thanks to Kohli’s overt support and the lack of viable options in case of an Indian incumbent. Ganguly, who was a popular choice once, is more inclined for administrative roles now and is a favourite for the BCCI president’s post eventually, while Rahul Dravid has taken charge of the National Cricket Academy and will not be willing to travel out of Bangalore.
The performance of Bangar as batting coach, meanwhile, has come under intense scrutiny while the development of pace bowlers under Arun’s experienced eyes has been much appreciated. It seems that the next big talking point story in Indian cricket - following their semi-final exit - will be the the choice of the head coach and his support staff!