Unless someone of the stature of Rahul Dravid or Anil Kumble throws his hat in the ring for the post of India coach, Ravi Shastri is the favourite to take over.
Shastri has so far been Team Director, which effectively was the same job.
As of Friday, the last day for applying for the position to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Venkatesh Prasad, Lalchand Rajput and Pravin Amre are in the fray. Chairman of selectors, Sandeep Patil, is the other high-profile candidate.
With the BCCI listing the ability to speak in an Indian language as a desirable criteria, most applicants have so far been Indian.
Though the official list of applicants is yet to be released, reports indicated that two former international players – Zimbabwe bowler Heath Streak and Australian batsman Stuart Law – showed interest in taking up the job.
Team India is scheduled to get a new coach ahead of their West Indies tour in July-August.
According to the BCCI’s selection procedures, there are nine criteria which applicants need to fulfill and demonstrate their knowledge in. But, the most important will be their presentation of a coaching plan elaborating the approach for ‘Team India’ to attain leadership position in all formats of the game.
They will also need to demonstrate methods and tools to effectively measure individual player performance and present metrics to the Board, which will in turn measure the performance of the team, on a consistent and timely basis.
On performance, Shastri and his staff would have continued coaching the team but their contract expired after the ICC World T20 in March-April. For the interim period, Shastri’s assistant coach, Sanjay Bangar has been appointed team coach for the Zimbabwe tour.
The remaining members of Shastri’s staff include bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar.
The former India all-rounder has the backing of the Test captain Virat Kohli, and can also claim to have delivered decent results. At the two big events – the 2015 World Cup and this year’s ICC World Twenty20 – India exited at the semi-final stage. In the Tests, it washed out South Africa at home and scored a series win in Sri Lanka.
However, Shastri’s success doesn’t match up to what the team enjoyed under South African Gary Kirsten. He helped India win the 2011 World Cup at home and took them to No 1 rank in Tests.
Thus, the all-important presentation will be an opportunity for other applicants to score over Shastri.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the captain across all formats under Gary Kirsten. Hence, the one-day captain is of the view that knowing an Indian language is not an important qualification. More than language, understanding the team and their socio-economic and cultural backgrounds is much more important, he said.
“More than Hindi or English, one who understands our culture and our upbringing, the one who understands these sort of things, he will always be better with us. In the past, too, these things have been important, and the coaches who have understood us better, it has made a difference at the ground level,” Dhoni said before leaving for Zimbabwe.
A scrutiny committee will do the screening process and forward its recommendations for approval to the working committee meeting, to be held at Dharamsala on June 24.
Earlier, a BCCI official said that their three-member advisory committee of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman would select the coach, but no official statement has declared this yet.