Former India captain Rahul Dravid has emerged as frontrunner to replace Ravi Shastri as India men’s head coach after the latter’s tenure expires at the end of the T20 World Cup next month.
The Hindu understands that Dravid, who is at the helm of cricket activities at the National Cricket Academy in his hometown Bengaluru, has agreed to throw his hat in the ring once the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) initiates the process to appoint the head coach.
Various BCCI dispensations over the last six years have tried in vain to persuade Dravid into taking charge of the senior team. However, Dravid has preferred to concentrate on the developmental aspect, looking after the NCA, India-A and Under-19 boys.
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah seem to have managed to make it happen this time around. It is understood that during the course of multiple discussions over the last week — telephonic, videoconferencing followed by a meeting in person in Dubai on Friday — the BCCI hierarchy managed to convince Dravid to take over as the head coach at least till the 2023 World Cup.
While Dravid is understood to have ended the long meeting on Friday on an affirmative note, the BCCI hopes Dravid will eventually formally apply once it invites applications for the four coaching staff positions that will fall vacant next month.
The BCCI bosses have hence heaved a sigh of relief after several top coaches — Indian and overseas — had turned down recent approaches. The BCCI is expected to initiate the process next week for appointing the head coach, batting coach, bowling coach and fielding coach. While the Cricket Advisory Committee, which also has a vacancy with Madan Lal having crossed the prescribed age-limit of 70 years, is supposed to appoint the head coach, the national selection committee has to finalise the support staff members.
Should Dravid actually enter the fray, Paras Mhambrey — who has been his trusted ally with the Under-19 boys and India-A outfits over the last four years — will be the favourite to take over as bowling coach from B. Arun.
The duo had accompanied India’s limited-overs squad on its tour of Sri Lanka in July. Vikram Rathour, who came in place of Sanjay Bangar in 2019 as batting coach, is likely to retain his position.
Need for reboot
Interestingly, Dravid and Mhambrey, after their recent reappointments at the NCA, were expected to groom the boys’ and girls’ squads for next year’s Under-19 World Cups. Should both of them be elevated to the senior men’s squad, the NCA coaching system will also need to be rebooted.