In a major boost to the new coach of the Indian cricket team, Ravi Shastri, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Committee of Administrators (COA) have decided to recall Bharat Arun as the bowling coach, claim reports.
The 54-year-old had worked as the India bowling coach from 2014 to 2016 and forged a strong partnership with Shastri when the latter was the team director. According to the Mumbai Mirror, Arun will join the team straightaway, and will be a part of the support staff from the Sri Lanka tour itself that is to start later this month. In doing so, Arun will join his former colleagues Sanjay Bangar and R Sridhar, who are currently the batting and fielding coach respectively.
Earlier, the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman had named Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid as the bowling and batting consultants respectively. However, Zaheer reportedly was not ready to commit more than 100 days to the role, which is far less than the 250 days that a full-time bowling coach is required to devote. Ganguly later revealed that Zaheer was offered a contract for 150 days per season, and the BCCI clarified that the former India pace spearhead's appointment as the bowling consultant will be on a tour-to-tour basis.
The Vinod Rai-headed COA, however, took umbrage at the appointment of Zaheer and Dravid and is understood to have felt the CAC had exceeded its brief in making those appointments. The CAC had, however, refuted the charge of foisting Dravid and Zaheer on Shastri, in a strongly-worded letter to COA chairman Rai.
In a meeting on Saturday though, the Supreme Court-appointed COA approved the selection of Shastri as the head coach of the Indian cricket team, but stated that the support staff will be named after consultation with Shastri by 22 July, effectively putting on hold Dravid and Zaheer's appointments.
"We have taken all the recommendations of the CAC for Ravi Shastri as head coach and we will further discuss with him appointment of other coaches. We have set up a committee and they will speak to them (CAC), communicate with them after talking to Shastri. The support staff has been decided in consultation with the head coach," Rai told reporters after the meeting.
The COA also clarified that Dravid and Zaheer as consultants were mere recommendations and not appointments, and that it was upto the COA to act upon those recommendations.
According to earlier reports, Shastri was keen to have Arun as the bowling coach, when asked about his choice, but was opposed by a member of the CAC. As an alternative, Shastri is also known to have bargained for former Australia speedster Jason Gillespie as the India bowling coach.
"Ravi has highest regards for Zaheer but he believes that a full-time bowling coach is required. Let Zak create a roadmap for bowlers and it will be Arun who will implement it. Ravi is expected to speak to COA on Saturday and make it clear that he would like Arun to join the team from Sri Lanka tour itself," a reliable BCCI source had earlier told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
Having acceded to Shastri's request of having Arun as part of the support staff, the COA has clarified that the head coach should have the support staff he wants. "That has always been the practice and we've followed that by granting Ravi's request. Arun will be back as the bowling coach," a COA member told Mirror on Saturday evening.
However, despite Arun's recall, the COA revealed that the services of Dravid and Zaheer will be utilised according to the need and for specific overseas tours, though Shastri will take a call on that too.
The COA has meanwhile formed a four-member panel, comprising acting board president CK Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary, CEO Rahul Johri, and COA member Diana Edulji to decide on the ways to utilise the services of the two consultants, remuneration of the head coach and other members of the support staff. The panel will also decide on the appointment of the permanent manager for the Indian team.
Arun had replaced Joe Dawes in 2014 and was with the Indian team till 2016 when Shastri was not given a second run after the expiry of his contract despite a strong showing.
Arun didn't have a distinguished playing career, but has always been regarded as a great academy coach with a sound grip on the theories related to fast bowling.
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).
With agency inputs.