IPL hurdle for India coaching staff?

The Indian board might have let its best cricketers join the Indian Premier League but is having second thoughts about allowing members of the support staff doing the same, Cricinfo has learnt.

The BCCI is mulling over whether to continue with Robin Singh, the fielding coach, after his decision to sign up as the coach of the Hyderabad franchise in the IPL. "There might be a conflict of interest later on," a source in the board told Cricinfo, "and we want our coaches to be wholly dedicated to the national side."

Venkatesh Prasad, the bowling coach, has also been linked to the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Though his future with the national side is more certain - having done a sterling job with the fast bowlers in the last few months - a full-time tie-up with the IPL could have an adverse effect.

"A decision is likely to be taken in a week or ten days," the source added. "We need to consider future possibilities - what if Hyderabad want Robin Singh when India are playing a series? It's ok if coaches have a consulting role in the IPL but to be full-time with a team may be a problem. We need to discuss. Nothing is finalised yet."

Both Prasad and Robin have contracts running till May. The pair began working with the side during the Bangladesh tour last year, post the World Cup debacle, and the players have spoken highly of the duo's inputs and their influence in their improvement.

Prasad has seen the likes of RP Singh and Ishant Sharma take the step from being average bowlers to exceptional ones and offered tips on how to control swing and speed. Robin has worked hard on the close-in catching, a department where India have improved in Tests, and diving, a technique which several of the ODI players are now mastering.

Meanwhile it's almost certain that Lalchand Rajput, currently the coach of the side, will not be persisted with. Rajput's term ends at the end of the Australia series and will make way for Gary Kirsten, who is taking over from March 1. Rajput is one of the contenders to coach the Mumbai franchise in the IPL.

Kirsten has already expressed his interest to bring Paddy Upton, the mental conditioning coach and trainer, on board. He has also recommended a few names for the physios job. He has also said that the IPL is a great opportunity for international cricketers, but added that he has no interest "for now" on being part of the Twenty20 tournament starting April 18 as he is focused on the new assignment with the Indian team.

"The IPL is unique because it brings in a new kind of supporter to cricket. It also adds a new dimension to the game. I think it's great," Kirsten told Cricinfo. "But I am clear that it's not for me. Certainly, not now. My focus right now is on getting my plans in place for the Indian team."