Indian domestic cricket August 19, 2006

Race hots up for Mumbai coaching post

Cricinfo staff

Pravin Amre has already been appointed batting coach and it's led to speculation that Balwinder Sandu, a bowler, may get the top job © Getty Images

As the prelude to the domestic season gathers momentum the talk around the circuit is not merely of players moving states and of when foreign cricketers will play in the Ranji Trophy but also of coaching positions up for grabs. Prime among them is the race to be Mumbai coach - currently being contested by Balwinder Sandhu, Jayantilal Kenia and Ashok Mankad. Pravin Amre has been already been appointed as batting coach.

The Mumbai Cricket Association confirmed that they had received letters of interest from these three, but equally denied that they had approached any of the candidates - either officially or otherwise.

Of the three candidates in the race Sandhu, the former Indian medium-pacer, and Mankad, who had opened the batting for India, have coached Mumbai in the past. Sandhu was coach of the Mumbai team from 1996 to 1998-99. With his specialisation in the bowling side of things, and Amre already in the saddle as batting coach, Sandhu's case is a strong one. In the period when he oversaw the side, Mumbai won the Ranji trophy once, in 1996-97.

Mankad's tenure began with the 1999-2000 season and lasted till 2001, and he too tasted victory once, in his first year when Sachin Tendulkar scored an epic double-century to brush aside Tamil Nadu in a hotly contested semi-final.

Jayantilal, who played one Test for India when he stood in for the injured Sunil Gavaskar in the West Indies in 1971, and eventually ended as a stalwart for Hyderabad, is an outside candidate to win the job. He has coached Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy, but came to prominence through his involvement in the BCA Mafatlal Scheme that was in place in Mumbai some years ago.

If the whispers are to be believed there is also a possibility that the MCA may decide to expand Amre's role and make him in charge of the team, instead of restricting his expertise to working with the batting side of things. Amre made his debut for Mumbai back in 1986-87, a time when the likes of Sunil Gavaskar were still on the circuit and when Mumbai dominated the Ranji trophy. It is believed that while Amre has enough of the old Mumbai attitude and pedigree he is also in touch with modern coaching methods, and this holds him in good stead.

The final decision will be made on August 21 by the Cricket Improvement Committee of the MCA. The committee comprises Sanjay Manjrekar, Raju Kulkarni, Milind Rege, Madhavrao Apte, Sanjay Patil, Shishir Hattangadi. All members of the committee - barring Manjrekar who is out of the country on a commentary assignment - are expected to attend the meeting that will decide who gets the job.