Who is Team India's next coach? Gautam Gambhir yet to receive any calls

Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, on the other hand, says he was approached for the top job

Kolkata Knight Riders coach Gautam Gambhir one of the top contenders for Rahul Dravid's job (photo: KKR)
Kolkata Knight Riders coach Gautam Gambhir one of the top contenders for Rahul Dravid's job (photo: KKR)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The speculation about who will be Rahul Dravid's successor, taking over as the next head coach of the Indian seniors' team, sees a new twist every day as the BCCI's deadline for receiving applications—27 May, Monday—approaches.

The biggest (Indian) name floating around is Gautam Gambhir's. The mentor of the Kolkata Knight Riders and former Indian opener has not yet been formally approached for the hot seat, however.

Sources close to Gambhir — who has shown something of a Midas touch in franchise cricket, by guiding his teams to IPL play-offs in three back-to-back seasons (two with the Lucknow Super Giants and now with the KKR) — say any gossip is premature as the BCCI hasn't sent out any feelers so far. ‘’As things stand now, his prime focus is on the IPL final in Chennai,’’ they said.

However, National Herald  has learnt that despite the job's high profile, Gambhir would want to take into account a number of factors even if approached.

Dravid’s tenure, meanwhile, ends immediately after the upcoming T20 World Cup series in the US and West Indies in June. So, an announcement about the new incumbent may take place even before India start their campaign there.   

Amongst the pros and cons that Gambhir, a former BJP MP from East Delhi, will be weighing as he (perhaps) wonders include leaving a young family for the constant travel and his commitment to his well-established family business.

While the Indian head coach’s position may be the most coveted of assignments among cricket coaches, the pressure and travelling commitments that come with it are possible deterrents even for a foreign professional like Ricky Ponting, the former Australian great.

The ICC website has quoted Ponting as saying that he was approached for the job; however, the 49-year-old was candid about what stood in the way of his accepting such a challenge.

"I’ve seen a lot of reports about it. Normally these things pop up on social media before you even know about them," said Ponting, who has been associated with the Delhi Capitals franchise for six IPL seasons now, "but there were a few little one-on-one conversations during the IPL, just to get a level of interest from me as to whether I would do it."

While he is keeping his options open, Ponting does feel that being on the road with a national team doesn’t fit his lifestyle at the moment, as he intends to spend more time with his family.

"I’d love to be a senior coach of a national team, but with the other things that I have in my life and wanting to have a bit of time at home..."
Ricky Ponting

"Everyone knows if you take a job working with the Indian team you can’t be involved in an IPL team," Ponting added, "so it would take that out of it as well."

"Also, a national head coach is a 10- or 11-months-of-the-year job, and as much as I’d like to do it, it just doesn’t fit into my lifestyle right now and the things that I really enjoy doing,” he added.

However, Ponting’s is not the only overseas name which has popped up in the fray.

Justin Langer, his former teammate and a former Australia head coach, had expressed his interest in a media interview, while another person who could be a dark horse in the race is current Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming.

The former New Zealand captain, one of the most astute brains in the game, has been at the helm of the CSK for 17 seasons now. Fleming is well aware of the Indian cricket ecosystem and has a personality that should help him gel with the big names in the Indian team.

The other overseas candidate who may be eminently acceptable to Indian cricketers is Mahela Jayawardene.

The former Sri Lanka captain has served long enough as the head coach of the Mumbai Indians. Should he be in the mix, there will be a complete buy-in from the influential MI lobby — namely, current captain Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya.

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