Nick Webb has emerged as the frontrunner to take over from Shankar Basu as India's strength and conditioning coach. Luke Woodhouse and S Rajnikanth are the other two shortlisted by a BCCI panel comprising the senior selection committee and fitness trainer and former Bengal batsman Ranadeep Moitra.
The shortlists were made after a total of 12 candidates were put through theory and practical assessments - the latter at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru over the weekend. From 12, the number came down to five, before the final three were named, Webb on top followed by Woodhouse and Rajnikanth. A final decision will be taken by Rahul Johri, the BCCI chief executive.
"We had 12 names to look at, five of them were foreigners, and then we brought the list down to five people," Moitra told ESPNcricinfo of the screening process. "We had discussed the science and theory part of it earlier, and then, once we met at the NCA, we had a more practical test, with some of the junior cricketers there. At the end of it, we decided on the top three."
Webb's prior experience and him being "sensitive to the needs of the subcontinent" went in his favour, Moitra explained. He has previously worked with the New Zealand women's team and domestic side Central Districts. Prior to his involvement in cricket, he had held similar positions with Warriors, the Auckland-based rugby league outfit.
"See, all of them have experience, and all of them have their plus points. All of them, obviously, were strong contenders," said Moitra, who turned to fitness and conditioning after his cricket career was cut short by injury, even working as assistant to Gregory Allen King with the Indian team in 2004, apart from being involved with football and golf.
"Some of them came with experience of working with international cricket teams. But we felt Nick was more sensitive to the needs of the subcontinent. Not that the others were not, but we felt Nick was firm but easy-going, more open, not too rigid."
Woodhouse is currently the national lead for strength and conditioning for the England women's rugby team, while Rajnikanth is contracted with Delhi Capitals in the IPL.
The BCCI was forced to look for new candidates after Basu decided against a contract extension following a four-year stint with the Indian team. The 2019 World Cup was his last assignment.
Shamya Dasgupta is Senior Assistant Editor at ESPNcricinfo