Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Less than five months before the Women's World T20, Tushar Arothe has stepped down as the head coach of the Indian women's team, soon after reports of discord within the team had surfaced after their Asia Cup loss. Although he cited "personal reasons" as the primary reason for resigning, Arothe revealed strained relations with some of the Indian players, who he said need to step out of their "comfort zone" for a better future of Indian women's cricket.
Arothe's resignation comes on the heels of India's loss in the final of the Asia Cup last month, to Bangladesh by three wickets. Immediately, reports of alleged discord between Arothe and some of the high-profile players surfaced.
Those speculations gained further weightage after Arothe last week met BCCI officials including Diana Edulji, the former India women's captain, who is part of the the Committee of Administrators (CoA). The BCCI accepted Arothe's resignation, which he tendered on Monday evening.*
Arothe's resignation coincides with the completion of two skills-specific camps he had been overseeing at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru since June 30. Before leaving for his home town Baroda, Arothe emphasised while he "had one of the best support staff to work with", he hoped the players showed "more intent" to take on challenges to "move to the next level."
"I have no grudge, no ill-will against any player, and I wish them all the best for the forthcoming tours and the World T20 in November," Arothe told ESPNcricinfo. "I'll say I had one of the best support staff to work with. But I hope the team learns that to achieve bigger things, to move to the next level, one needs to come out of their comfort zone. And I wish to see more honesty and more intent from the players to do that."
A former batting allrounder and Ranji Trophy winner with Baroda, Arothe took over as head coach in April 2017 after the removal of Purnima Rau from the job, two months ahead of the World Cup in England. Having previously been part of the Indian women's coaching staff between 2008 and 2012, Arothe had been initially appointed until the 2017 World Cup.
India's breakout run in the tournament, where they finished runners-up, however, earned him a two-year extension. The BCCI also locked in fielding coach Biju George and physiotherapist Tracy Fernandes on a two-year contract, while Trupti Bhattacharya was named the manager of the team for a one-year period.
During India's six-month hiatus from international cricket following the World Cup final at Lord's, Arothe oversaw several camps at the NCA, involving fringe players and India regulars. He was also tasked with the responsibility, along with George, to scout players for the India A sides that played against Australia and England in Mumbai in March.
The dynamics between the team and Arothe are understood to have been fairly healthy as recently as the tour of South Africa in February - their first assignment since the World Cup - when India won both limited-overs series. However, below-par performances at home against Australia and in the T20 tri-series featuring Australia and England seem to have played a part in the discontent between some of the high-profile regulars and Arothe. The Asia Cup loss is understood to have been the tipping point.
One of the reasons for the alleged discord was Arothe's training methods. Two mandatory practice sessions of roughly two-and-a-half-hours each in the morning and late afternoon, and an optional afternoon session, had been a feature of India's regime since last year. But the larger consensus among players has been to have one long session a day, so as to accommodate training at the gym and an optional session if necessary - feedback that had been amicably conveyed to Arothe ahead of the Asia Cup.
The omission of 17-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues from the XI in the Asia Cup, is also understood to have been a moot point during Arothe's meetings with the CoA and the BCCI officials.
Since the past two months, the board has also been on the look-out for a bowling coach. With an overall camp scheduled to be held on July 25, Arothe's departure now casts a shadow over its eventuality. This, more so, in the context of the team's upcoming tour of Sri Lanka in September before they head to the West Indies for the World T20.
*1430GMT The confirmation was added after the BCCI issued a press release