The process of choosing the chief coach for the Indian cricket team looks sets to be completed on Thursday, with all focus on former skippers Anil Kumble and Ravi Shastri, seen as the front-runners for the job.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, Anurag Thakur, told a TV agency that the announcement is likely to come later in the day. Former skipper Sourav Ganguly, part of the three-player advisory committee tasked to selected the coach, however, said he was yet to hand in the decision as he arrived to attend the meeting of the Ranji coaches and captains.
Ganguly flew into Dharamsala with BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke are they are expected to have discussed the issue before meeting the Board president, Anurag Thakur. The BCCI president and secretary are due to address a news conference around 5pm.
Kumble is seen as having the backing of the selection panel while Shastri, whose contract as India team directed ended with the World T20 semifinal exit, is strongly backed by Test skipper Virat Kohli. India’s leading Test wicket-taker joined the race late. Although he does not meet two important criteria for the job – he has no experience of coaching and does not possess a coaching certificate – he mentored Mumbai Indians to two IPL titles and regarded highly as a motivator, besides his stature.
Shastri had made his backing for Kohli as captain in all formats clear after suggesting in media comments since stepping down that the time was ripe for MS Dhoni to step down as limited-overs skipper. Kumble, in that aspect, could communicate with Dhoni better in the twilight of the most successful India skipper’s career. It is a busy day for BCCI on Thursday.
Following the Ranji conclave, the IPL committee and the junior selection committee meetings are due to be held, ahead of the Board’s working committee meeting on Friday.
Ranji Trophy matches look set to be played on neutral venues in the coming season with most captains and coaches acknowledging the need for that to stop home teams from ‘doctoring’ pitches to suit their advantage. Former Mumbai pacer, Paras Mhambrey, who was the bowling coach with India A last year and also coached Mumbai, Bengal and Baroda, said the majority was for playing on neutral venues to avoid lopsided matches caused by teams either underpreparing pitches or laying out green tops. It also often made toss very vital.
Former India wicketkeeper and Gujarat player, Parthiv Patel, said: “It will take away home advantage. It is not going to be completely viable. But we have too see how it goes. It will prepare teams and players for every condition, which is important from the national team’s point of view.” The decision to play on neutral venues will be discussed and ratified by the working committee on Friday