Team India has been bereft of a coach since the exit of Duncan Fletcher in 2015. While interim Team Director Ravi Shastri took over the responsibility and showed remarkable results in the past year, with a brand new season of cricket ahead, India is looking for someone to fill the coach's boots.
Several names have been doing the rounds, from coaches in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) such as Ricky Ponting to proven performers in the past such as Tom Moody. With foreign coaches being the norm, especially in the sub-continent, very few Indians are said to be in the reckoning.
Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin too echoed similar views, "Now-a-days everyone looks to have foreign coaches in whatever sport you can name. I have a strong feeling that the future India coach will be a foreigner."
Here are the big names doing the rounds for the position of India's next top boss.
This one is a no-brainer. Adhering to the golden rule of 'don't fix, what's not broken, India retaining Shastri, who has enjoyed success as the Team Director, does seem like the a good idea. The team has done well under him and he in turn has a good rapport with the players. Shastri himself described his 18-month stint at Team India's helm as his most satisfying job in an an exclusive interview with Firstpost.
Shastri had taken over as the team’s director of cricket in 2014 after India lost 1-3 in Tests to England. Under him, the Indian team won the ODI series in England, reached the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup in 2015, won their first Test series in Sri Lanka 2-1 after 22 years and climbed to Number one position in the Test rankings, after dethroning South Africa 3-0 at home. In 2016, India completed a historic clean sweep in the T20Is against Australia Down Under, overcame Sri Lankans 2-1 in a T20 series at home, won the Asia Cup and reached the semifinals of the World T20.
At the moment, Shastri is doing commentary and officially his job as team director is over. "What's in the future for me, only time will tell," Shastri had told Firstpost in April.
This suggestion comes straight from the top - from India's Test captain Virat Kohli no less.
Kohli, who is working with Vettori - the head coach of IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) - seems to favour him for the national team as well. According to sources quotes in a report by The Times of India report , the former New Zealand left-arm spinner's name has indeed been suggested by Kohli.
The 37-year-old who retired from international cricket after the 2015 World Cup, is in his second season as the head coach of the IPL franchise and has also coached the Big Bash League side Brisbane Heat. However, it should be noted that despite the high-profile captain and coach, the team hasn't been performing well in the ongoing IPL and is currently languishing at sixth on the points table.
Azharuddin backed Kohli's choice as well. "If India captain says he is the right candidate for the job then I think I will go with him," he said at an event in Mumbai.
The former New Zealand captain has been linked with the India coach job several times, even when Duncan Fletcher was chosen for the top job. Well, his name as cropped up again, this time as a frontrunner.
A Mid-day report from April said that the BCCI is convinced that Fleming is the right man for the post.
Flemming has the experience for sure, having successfully coached IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings and though his current assignment with the Rising Pune Supergiants isn't going well, he enjoys the confidence of limited overs captain MS Dhoni. Dhoni and Fleming have had been the most successful captain-coach pair in the short history of the IPL, having taken CSK to the finals six times in eight years, winning the title twice.
It is an established fact that Rahul Dravid is one of India's finest cricketers, and he has enhanced his credentials with his successful stint as coach of India A and India U-19 squads and mentor of IPL teams Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils. In fact, DD's resurgence has largely been credited to his shrewd player selection. All of this points out to the fact that Dravid would make an excellent coach for India. However, the man himself isn't too keen on the role as yet.
While a Times of India report said that he was whether he would be interested in taking over as chief coach of the senior team, he was quoted as saying that this call that will depend on his 'bandwidth'.
"Any decision that I make at this stage of my life would depend on whether I have the bandwidth to do all of these things," Dravid told PTI. "It takes time. You can never really say that now you are ready and now you are not. That's an experience, a learning. You have to do it to only know. Every day you do it and you want to learn," he added.
Law recently turned down an offer to coach the Pakistan cricket team but has reportedly expressed interest in taking up the India job. He is open to taking up the job once his contract with Cricket Australia is over, says a Deccan Chronicle report.
"I was in India for the A Team tour with Australia and was asked the question then about the vacant head coach position in India, the answer is still the same. I would love to work within the Indian cricket team. But only after my contract expires with CA," he was quoted as saying earlier this month.
He added that he would like to see from close quarters how India prepare and think about the game. "India play an exciting brand of cricket and that is how we like to play our cricket here in Australia," he told Deccan Chronicle. The interesting thing to be noted here is that Cricket Australia have already appointed Law as batting consultant for the Sri Lanka tour from July to September while India's tour to West Indies is spread over July to August before which the BCCI might announce the new coach.
From Dhoni's partner to Kohli's suggestion, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. But maybe, the final decision may surprise us all -- as had been the case when Greg Chappell took over. For now, over to keeping a keen eye on some of these names performing in the IPL.