The exercise to select India's next coach is finally over, with Greg Chappell, one of the game's all-time greats, being appointed. The BCCI-appointed committee met at 10am on Friday, and made an announcement on the subject at 12.30pm. Initially, the board had not ruled out the chance of another round of discussions with the short-listed candidates after the preliminary round of inteviews was marked by chaos and confusion. Tom Moody, Mohinder Amarnath and Desmond Haynes were the others in contention.
The committee - comprising Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Srinivas Venkataraghavan - began their first interview with Mohinder Amarnath at 2.25pm on Thursday, a delay of almost half-an-hour, as a photo shoot had to be completed first.
Amarnath, the only Indian in the race, sporting a small Indian flag at the meeting, took close to two hours to make his presentation and finish his interview (although he was allotted 45 minutes) apparently because he had problems with the laptop computer he was using. This happened even though Amarnath had brought along his brother-in-law to help handle the technology side of things.
So Chappell, the second in line to be interviewed, occupied the hot seat at around 4.20pm, a good hour-and-a-half after the time he was allotted. Furthermore, Cricinfo has learned that Chappell had to complete his presentation in quick time as Ranbir Singh Mahendra, the board president, and Jagmohan Dalmiya, the former BCCI chief, had to leave the Taj Palace hotel around 5pm to keep a prearranged date with the prime minister. The interviews of the two remaining candidates - Haynes and Moody - then resumed after 6.30pm when the officials returned.
Sources close to the committee revealed that they were "impressed" by Chappell's crisp presentation and the brief question-and-answer session that followed. In this period the committee attempted to glean the basics of what Chappell hoped to achieve if he was handed the job. One thing that went in Chappell's favour was the fact that he was prepared to commit as many as 290 days a year to the job. When Chappell was last short-listed for the job in 2000, remuneration was reportedly a problem. However it has been learned that all four candidates this time around were happy to work with whatever figure the board thought appropriate.
Haynes, meanwhile, emerged from his interview appearing relaxed and, when mobbed by waiting television channels and other media people, asked jokingly, "Are you guys going to leave me alone now?" The comedy continued when one of the reporters commented that Haynes was the dark horse in the race, to which he replied: "Yes, look at me [pointing to the colour of his skin], I certainly am the dark horse."
The BCCI could not afford to waste time in announcing the successful candidate, as two of those short-listed - Chappell and Moody - had also been in talks with the Sri Lankan board, which is keen to make an appointment soon. Moody, who was the last to emerge from this round of interviews, told the media that he believed the fact that he was the youngest of the four candidates was neither an advantage nor a disadvantage.
He did, however, stress the fact that his knowledge of the modern game would work in his favour. When it was suggested that he had not played as much cricket as some of the others in the fray, Moody remarked: "I'm not here to represent India, I'm here to coach the team."
Ultimately, though, Chappell's greater stature within the game, and an ability to think out of the box, helped swing it his way. After almost five years of near-steady progress under John Wright, Chappell now has the task of taking India to the next level - that inhabited by Australia.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo