India's coaching saga September 21, 2007

India unlikely to have coach for Australia ODIs

Kepler Wessels is one of 20-odd applicants vying for the Indian coaching position © Getty Images

India have a new captain for the seven-match home ODI series against Australia, but they are "extremely unlikely" to have a new coach by then. Although the Board of Control for Cricket in India had initially hoped to appoint a coach before the series, the chances of that happening now appear slim and the appointment of a cricket manager is more likely.

The BCCI advertised for the post of coach on leading cricket board websites on August 27 and set September 15 as the deadline for interested candidates to write in. Cricinfo has learnt that the BCCI has received close to 20 applications in all, both from India and abroad, for the post.

However, the committee constituted to decide on the next course of action to be taken in appointing the coach may not be able to meet on September 27, the date earlier fixed for this purpose. The committee - comprising former Indian captains Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and S Venkataraghavan, the board secretary, Niranjan Shah, the joint secretary, Mohinder Pandove and the treasurer, N Srinivasan - was constituted to pick the next coach. However, Gavaskar and Shastri are both in South Africa, commentating on the ICC World Twenty20, and are only likely to return to India on September 26 or 27.

A top board source said it is already on the look-out for a cricket manager for the seven-match series. Even if the committee meets on September 27 and reviews the applications it has received, and short-lists candidates for the post, it will not be able to complete the interview process before the Australia series, which begins in Bangalore on September 29.

"We will probably have to appoint someone as cricket manager for the home series against Australia," the source said. "We are looking for likely candidates and could consider some of the Indians who have applied for the coach's job."

The most prominent among the Indians who have applied for that job is Chandrakant Pandit, who had successful coaching stints with Mumbai, India A and Maharashtra. Recently, though, he was not released from his duty at Maharashtra, and was replaced as India A coach by Paras Mhambrey.

With India enjoying considerably more success than was expected in some quarters at the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, the possibility of Lalchand Rajput - doing the job of cricket manager - getting an extension for the home series cannot be ruled out. However, there have been rumblings in some sections of the board that too many plum posts are going to former cricketers from the West Zone. With Sharad Pawar, the president, Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, and Ratnakar Shetty, the chief administrative officer, all coming from West Zone, it has been whispered that former players from Mumbai are getting more opportunities as managers and coaches than others. The BCCI is keen to show that it is not parochial in its appointments.

Richard Done, Tim Boon, Kepler Wessels, Terry Oliver, Dave Nosworthy and Martin Crowe are some of the applicants for the coaching position from overseas.

Done was once head of the Queensland Academy of Excellence, and took over as an ICC High Performance manager in 2004 when Bob Woolmer joined Pakistan and left the post vacant. Done recently interviewed for the job of Pakistan coach but lost out to fellow Australian Geoff Lawson.

Oliver succeeded Bennett King as the Queensland coach in 2002 after King took up the West Indies job, but it appears that his candidature will be ruled out as the advertisement issued by the BCCI stipulates that candidates should have played "at least first-class cricket." Oliver, who played club and grade cricket in Australia, never played first-class cricket.

There's also Tim Boon, the former Leicestershire batsman, who has served as assistant coach of the England team, who now coaches Leicestershire. A while ago the BCCI received an application from Boon, although Paul Maylard-Mason, the chief executive of the Leicestershire County Cricket Club, issued a statement saying Boon was not in the race for the India job. Maylard-Mason insisted that Boon was committed to Leicestershire. Sources indicate that Boon has personally indicated his genuine interest in the India job, but the Indian board will be wary given their recent experience with Graham Ford.

Wessels, the former Australia and South Africa international, it is learned, reached Indian officials through a senior Indian cricketer, expressing an interest in the job. Wessels has coaching experience in England, with counties including Northamptonshire but has not coached an international team.

Nosworthy, who coaches Canterbury, has in the past coached teams in South Africa, where he played first-class cricket for Border and Northern Transvaal.

Crowe's case is a curious one. His application was first forwarded to the BCCI by "a well-wisher" and Crowe said he had no idea that his CV had reached the BCCI. Later, though, he conceded he could be interested in the job under favourable circumstances.

Anand Vasu is an associate editor on Cricinfo