Nehra rejects India coaching offer; Rohit, Agarkar want Dravid's contract extended. BCCI facing post Chappell-era void?
BCCI has offered an extension to Rahul Dravid after Ashish Nehra declined to be India's T20I coach but there is no clarity on whether the former has accepted it
Who will be India's next head coach? Will Rahul Dravid continue? if he doesn't, will BCCI turn to his former teammate VVS Laxman? The questions are plenty. And at the moment there are no definite answers to any of them. The chatter as soon as the World Cup 2023 ended with a painful loss to Australia in the final. Head coach Dravid and his entire support staff - batting Vikram Rathore, bowling coach Paras Mhambrey, and fielding coach T Dilip - had contracts till the World Cup. This, effectively means, the Indian men's cricket team doesn't have a full-time coaching staff, currently. The Laxman-led NCA staff is at the helm for the ongoing T20I series against Australia.
According to the latest reports in ESPNCricinfo and The Indian Express, the BCCI has offered an extension to Dravid. They have done this to keep continuity in the process said ESPN. The tenure for the extension has been kept open but there is no clarity on whether Dravid has accepted it, the report added. If he does, it is more or less certain that his support staff will also be retained.
Nehra rejects BCCI's offer
The Indian Express, on the other hand, reported that India captain Rohit Sharma and chief selector Ajit Agarkar want Rahul Dravid to continue as the head coach, at least till next year's T20 World Cup and the BCCI has offered a new contract to Dravid till that tournament only. But the board has done that after it got a negative response from Ashish Nehra.
Nehra, a former India fast bowler and the current head coach of IPL franchise Gujarat Titans was reportedly offered the coaching responsibilities of India's T20I side. If he had accepted the offer then it could have paved the path for split coaches in Indian cricket for the first time. But the report says he hasn't. After being contacted by the BCCI after the ODI World Cup final, Nehra, who led GT to the IPL title in 2022 and took them to the final the next season, rejected the offer.
As things stand now, it appears that BCCI's first choice for India head coach in next year's T20 World Cup was Nehra and now that he hasn't taken up the role, there could be a change of plans. The board is now likely to opt for a wait-and-watch policy.
Dravid, as reported earlier, is unlikely to take up an extension and continue as India's head coach. He has already got offers from two IPL teams - Lucknow Super Giants and Rajasthan Royals. Being a part of an IPL set-up means, Dravid will have ample time to spend with his family. Lack of family time is one of the main reasons behind Dravid's reluctance to continue as India's head coach, which involves constant travel for almost the entire year.
What about Laxman?
If BCCI's plan was to give the reins of the T20 side to Nehra and then name Laxman most likely would have been the head coach of the Test and ODI sides. He has been the NCA head ever since Dravid moved with the senior team and has also performed the role of an interim coach whenever Dravid needed a break. He is well aware of the system and has a good report with the current lot of players and the ones coming up through the ranks.
India might face the post Chappell and Fletcher era void again
But with Nehra saying no and Dravid unlikely to continue, India may enter a phase similar to the one after Duncan Fletcher quit in August 2014. Or when Greg Chappell exited in 2006. India did not have a designated head coach for at least more than a year, on both occasions. They even played two World Cups during this period - the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2015 ODI World Cup.
While the delay in announcing a head coach is unlikely to be that long this time around an immediate resolve also seems wishful thinking. With the South Africa series knocking at the doors, it is all but certain that Laxman and his NCA support staff will travel with the Indian side for the full-fledged tour that will also mark the return of India's WTC campaign.
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