No bowling coach for India in near future
The issue of a bowling coach for the Indian team, a cause championed by Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, will be discussed by the Indian board at its working committee meeting on December 23, after consulting the coach and the captain. This means if a coach is to be appointed, it will not happen during the current series in South Africa.
Vengsarkar has been pushing the case and recently took it upon himself to speak about it with Sharad Pawar, the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). While it is not unusual for a selector to make suggestions of this kind, it is uncommon that they be made public at a press conference, as Vengsarkar did.
"The bowling attack is a bit inexperienced and may require guidance," Vengsarkar told Cricinfo, when asked about the rationale behind his thinking. When asked if this was perhaps too close to the World Cup to bring in a bowling coach, his response was: "So? All the more reason why it is important, isn't it?"
However, it will be hard for him to push his case elsewhere. Neither coach Greg Chappell nor captain Rahul Dravid have come out in favour of a full-time bowling coach for the team; the duties are currently performed by Chappell's deputy Ian Frazer.
The BCCI, too, is unlikely to jump at Vengsarkar's suggestion and make an appointment immediately, it was learned. "It is a suggestion that has come forward from the chairman of selectors, but it is not something we can take a decision on unilaterally," a top BCCI official told Cricinfo. "We will have to consult the coach and the captain and see what their views are on the subject. Then we will discuss the matter at the working committee meeting."
Vengsarkar has a supporter, though, in Kiran More, his predecessor as chairman of selectors. "It's a good idea to have a bowling coach," he told Cricinfo. "The board should have had appointed one earlier though, maybe a year ago. Now it may be too close to the World Cup to appoint someone new."
When asked if it was the role of the chairman of selectors to put forth suggestions of this kind, More said, "Suggestions are always given from former cricketers, whether they are selectors or not. It's then up to the board to do what it feels is correct."
What Vengsarkar's statements have done is to set off a chain reaction among potential candidates with several former cricketers putting their hands up. One of the first to do so was Venkatesh Prasad, the former India fast bowler. "You cannot mess around with technique at the highest level", Prasad had told Cricinfo on the sidelines of Karnataka's Ranji Trophy match at Mysore soon after Vengsarkar's statements were made public. Prasad has completed the Level III coaching program and is currently working with the Karnataka team.
TA Sekar, the former Tamil Nadu and India fast bowler - who has been heading the MRF Pace Foundation's program in Chennai since 1987, working closely with Dennis Lillee, the former Australian fast-bowling great - was also in contention for the job, according to information received by Cricinfo.
From time to time India has had former fast bowlers sharing their expertise with the team, as Andy Roberts did in West Indies, and later Jeff Thompson in Kuala Lumpur. The only time India used a bowling coach over any length of time was when they toured Australia in 2003-04, when Bruce Reid, the former Australian left-arm fast bowler, was appointed to work with the team.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo