New Delhi: The hunt for Team India's new head coach has begun today with the 21 shortlisted aspirants giving the interviews and making presentations for the coveted job. The BCCI is all set to make the announcement in the next few days.
Former Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble will face his former team-mates Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, who are part of BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) today in the interview for the high-profile job.
Earlier, BCCI had received a total of 57 responses to its advertisement for the job, and 21 of them were shortlisted for the advisory committee to review. India has been without a full-time head coach ever since the listless Duncan Fletcher’s contract ended in March 2015.
Kumble was the final candidate to throw his hat into the ring for the high-profile position on June 10.
It is believed that Ravi Shastri – who was Team India’s technical director till the ICC World T20 in March – and Kumble are the two front-runners for the high-profile job.
Though the 45-year-old Kumble doesn’t fulfil the criterion of having coached an international or first-class team and is also not qualified through a certification/assessment programme conducted by any of the full member countries, his outstanding record and vast experience could tip the scales in his favour.
The former leg-spinner is third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 619 scalps from 132 matches -- only behind Sri Lankan Mutthiah Muralidaran (800) and Australian Shane Warne (708).
Kumble has been known to have demonstrated a shrewd cricketing brain during his career. His ability to change the pace and use the pitch cleverly helped him become India’s highest Test wicket-taker.
The Karnataka player also has played 271 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) taking 337 wickets -- most by an Indian.
Kumble also captained the Indian Test team when he replaced Rahul Dravid at the helm in November 2007. He led the team for 14 Test matches that included three wins, five defeats and the remaining six were draws.
He has also been a mentor in the Indian Premier League (IPL), initially with Royal Challengers Bangalore and later with Mumbai Indians. He even served a term as President of Karnataka State Cricket Association and has been chairing the ICC Cricket Committee for four years now.
These stats and tons of experience make him the most high-profile contender, even though he hasn't formally coached any first class cricket team.
On the other hand, former all-rounder-turned-TV commentator and analyst Ravi Shastri was appointed as team director in 2014 by the BCCI. He has played 80 Tests and 150 ODIs and has led the team in just one Test match.
In his 18-month stint as Team Director, Shastri had mixed results – good in Tests and average in ODIs. Though, under him, India managed to enter the semi-finals of the World T20 2016, the team showed little consistency in its performance.
If one goes by the buzz in the BCCI and the amount of experience, Kumble seems to be right at the top in the race.
After the interviews, the panel will recommend the names it finds most suitable and then the board is likely to declare the new coach on June 24 at the BCCI working committee meeting in Dharamsala, Himahal Pradesh.
(With PTI inputs)