Coach Selection: Ravi Shastri in the box seat

ganguly and sastri
  1. TOI has learnt that all deliberations surrounding the appointment, so far, had been between Shastri, Sehwag and Moody
  2. Shastri had decided not to apply for the position this time after the way he was “treated” last year
  3. Shastri agreed to send across his CV to the CAC after Tendulkar convinced him to do so
Former all-rounder Ravi Shastri favourite for coach job. (TOI Photo)
Former all-rounder Ravi Shastri favourite for coach job. (TOI Photo)

MUMBAI: In keeping with their usual custom of making all administrative activities appear like state secrets, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and its Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) remained characteristically uncommunicative until Sunday evening on how they were planning to go ahead with the all-important Monday meeting to select the national coach of the Indian team.

On Monday afternoon, two members of the CAC – Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman – will be present at the headquarters of the BCCI with Sachin Tendulkar, the third member, joining his colleagues on Skype from the United Kingdom. The job at hand will be to finalize one of the seven candidates – Ravi Shastri, Virender Sehwag, Tom Moody, Richard Pybus, Phil Simmons, Lalchand Rajput and Dodda Ganesh – as the new coach of the senior men’s team following an interview process.
The deadline for a cut-off of applications was until Sunday midnight following which a curtailed list of candidates would come up for a final review. TOI has learnt that all deliberations surrounding the appointment, so far, had been between Shastri, Sehwag and Moody.Shastri, the former Team India director, who was unceremoniously ignored on the previous occasion – as the CAC settled for former India leg-spinner Anil Kumble – is once again a firm favourite.

Considered players’ choice, the cricketer-turned-commentator – who has been actively involved in the international cricketing circuit for close to two decades now, post retirement – had decided not to apply for the position this time after the way he was “treated” last year.

In the end, Shastri agreed to send across his CV to the CAC after one of its members – Sachin Tendulkar – convinced him to do so in the best interests of everybody involved. The second favourite will be the very experienced Tom Moody, who led Sri Lanka to the final of the 2007 ICC World Cup as a coach and helped Sunrisers Hyderabad win the Indian Premier League (IPL) title in 2016, and has himself been a two-time World Cup winner for Australia in the past. When Moody’s interview is held, one of the CAC members – VVS Laxman – will have to recuse himself from the process considering that the Australian and the Hyderabadi are colleagues at Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Sehwag, who surprised the fraternity with his CV, considering that he had shown no particular interest in the past to coach an international side, will be the third man in the running. He would come into the picture if the CAC indeed fail to find Shastri or Moody (in that order) unsuitable for the role.

The others in the running are former Pakistan and West Indies coach Pybus, Afghanistan’s national coach Rajput – who was also associated with the 2007 World T20-winning Indian team, West Indian Simmons – whose application was the last among all the candidates to come in, and Ganesh – a former India medium-pacer.

Of all candidates, Shastri – apropos of CVs and presentations – remains the favourite ahead of the rest for numerous reasons.

Ahead of CAC shortlisting Kumble as the national coach in 2016, the former India all-rounder had been shouldering the responsibility of Team India director, a role that was handed over to him very abruptly and the 55-year-old did considerably well to save BCCI the blushes.

That aside, skipper Virat Kohli and some other senior members of the squad have never shied from admitting that they would prefer Shastri at the helm of affairs.

All that the CAC will have to do now is make the process a transparent one and ensure that – unlike 2016 – the interviews don’t trigger more controversies.

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