First, there was drama and confusion over the selection of the head coach of the Indian cricket team. And now, the appointment of the support staff is getting its share of undue controversy.
Accordingly, after reports surfaced on Sunday that new India coach Ravi Shastri's 'favourite' Bharat Arun was named as the team's bowling coach by the powerful Committee of Administrators (COA), Arun himself has played those reports down. "Not yet. As of now, I've to carry on normally, isn't it?" Arun told the Times of India, when asked if he had landed the job of the India bowling coach.
What added to the complexity of the situation was that Arun was on Sunday named as the coach of the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) side VB Thiruvallur Veerans. The TNPL T20 tournament is slated to take place from 22 July to 20 August and Arun's team will have the leading Test wicket-taker and Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan as the mentor.
Incidentally, Arun is also the bowling coach of the Indian Premier League (IPL) side, Royal Challengers Bangalore. If selected as the bowling coach of the Indian cricket team, he will have to relinquish his positions both in the TNPL and IPL, as the new BCCI rules have been designed to crack down on conflicts of interest.
Arun was also the coach of Hyderabad last season, and even if the Hyderabad Cricket Association extends their contract, Arun would have to give up that job too if he is named as part of the India support staff.
Arun was India's bowling coach from 2014 to 2016 and formed a strong partnership with Shastri when he was the team director. Shastri and he go back a long way, having been friends since their U-19 days back in early 1980s. It was on Shastri's recommendation that erstwhile BCCI president N Srinivasan gave a go-ahead to Arun's appointment with the senior team when he was the bowling consultant at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).
Earlier, the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) of the BCCI, comprising Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman had named their former teammates Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid as the bowling and batting consultants respectively of the Indian team. However, both appointments, especially that of Zaheer, ran into trouble when the COA took offence over what it interpreted as the CAC going beyond its brief and appointing the support staff too. Zaheer not being ready to commit 250 days per season — as required for a full-time coach — may have also gone against him.
The COA, though, was not averse to use Dravid and Zaheer's inputs in some form or the other, and according to a Mumbai Mirror report, a member of the Supreme Court-appointed panel disclosed that the services of Zaheer and Dravid would be utilised for overseas tours, though Shastri will take a call on that.
Whether Arun gets the India job, and in what capacities Zaheer and Dravid's services will be utilised will be decided on Tuesday by a four-member BCCI panel comprising acting president CK Khanna, CEO Rahul Johri and acting secretary Amitabh Chadhuary and COA member Diana Edulji.