Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Gary Kirsten, Ramesh Powar, and Herschelle Gibbs are among the high-profile shortlisted candidates for the full-time position of India women head coach.
The position was opened up after the BCCI decided against handing an extension to Powar, whose contract as the India women's interim head coach expired on November 30. The board instead opted to invite fresh applications for a two-year term. ESPNcricinfo understands the shortlist includes 11 names, winnowed from a pool of 28 applicants, 10 of whom were overseas candidates, and the interviews will be held on Thursday.
Kirsten, who was in charge of India's men's team during their title-winning 2011 World Cup campaign, is among the overseas applicants on the shortlist, alongside Gibbs, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Brad Hogg and Trent Johnston. Dav Whatmore - the former Sri Lanka men's head coach, who currently leads Kerala - Owais Shah, Colin Siller and Dominic Thornely have failed to make the cut. The Indian candidates who have been shortlisted include Venkatesh Prasad, Manoj Prabhakar and WV Raman. Among other applicants on the longlist, three former India women's Test cricketers, including Gargi Banerji and Arati Vaidya, also featured.
Incumbent Pakistan women head coach Mark Coles was also briefly in the running, but withdrew his application ahead of the interview on Thursday. Coles ascribed his application to a "confusion" arising from a third-party agent.
"There is some confusion about this… through a third party," Coles told ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday, stating he had already informed the PCB about his application reaching the BCCI and, subsequently, apprised both the boards of his withdrawal. "I have withdrawn, and am committed to Pakistan cricket and trying to get the team to be the best they can be."
Contracted with the PCB until 2020, Coles, a former List A player with Wellington who coached Wellington Blaze to a T20 title in 2013, became the first foreigner to be roped in as a Pakistan women coach when he was handed the job in September last year "on a trial basis". His appointment - part of a major revamp of the women's cricket set-up in the country - had come in the wake of a scathing evaluation of Pakistan's winless 2017 World Cup campaign by former head coach Sabhi Azhar.
The application process for India's next head coach, itself a consequence of Powar not being given an extension in controversial circumstances, came to a close on December 14. Powar reapplied on December 11, stating he couldn't "let the girls down, especially Harman, Smriti for showing the support for the hard work we put together for three months."
The advertisement for the job, too, was not bereft of controversy, with Diana Edulji, the former India women's captain and now one half of the two-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), taking strong exception to the "unilateral" decision taken by the CoA chief, Vinod Rai, over the hiring process. Their dissimilar stance over Powar's re-appointment reached a tipping point after Rai signed a BCCI media release last week which stated that the ad-hoc committee was formed to shortlist and finalise the new coach.
Former India cricketers Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy, who make up the three-member committee, will be interviewing the ten candidates at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai.