Is it curtains for the Rahul Dravid era after T20 World Cup?

The BCCI ad for head coach creates a buzz as they look to overhaul the set-up with a three-year plan

A file photo of Indian cricket coach Rahul Dravid addressing a press conference. (Photo: BCCI)
A file photo of Indian cricket coach Rahul Dravid addressing a press conference. (Photo: BCCI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Is the Rahul Dravid era at the helm of Indian cricket finally ending after the T20 World Cup in June? A BCCI advisory, rather late in the evening on Monday, released an advertisement for the post of head coach of Indian men’s cricket team – and one of the trending topics over next few days will be: after Dravid who?  

There is, of course, a big rider in this as the BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who announced their plans for a complete overhaul of the coaching staff few days back – told the media that Dravid is free to apply afresh but there would be no automatic extension. The Indian batting legend, whose initial two-year tenure ended with a heartbreaking runners-up finish in the 50-overs World Cup, was offered a six-month extension till the end of World T20 in the US and Caribbean in June.

 The last time there was a change at the helm right at the end of a World Cup was after the 2021 World T20 in UAE, where India crashed out of the group stages, but the difference is that the then incumbent Ravi Shastri said he was not interested in renewal while Virat Kohli had also announced plans to step down from T20 captaincy at the end of the tournament. Dravid, on the other hand, has the onerous task of ending a ICC trophy drought next month – which remains a glaring shortcoming of his tenure.

An educated guess is Dravid may not be interested in carrying on with the high-pressure, living-out-of-the-suitcase life any more. The BCCI, as of now, is thinking long term as the new head coach will have a three-year tenure from 1 July 2024, to 31 December 2027 – essentially meaning till the end of the next ODI World Cup. There will be wholesale changes in the support staff as well as the new head coach’s job brief says: ‘’Head Coach will lead a team of specialist coaches and support staff and will be responsible for defining their roles, performance and ongoing development. The Head Coach will be responsible for reviewing, maintaining and enforcing the disciplinary codes within the Indian men’s team.’’

File photo of Indian cricket team coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma 
(Photo: @IMTanujSingh/X)
File photo of Indian cricket team coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma (Photo: @IMTanujSingh/X)

A million dollar question in circulation is: will the BCCI have a change of heart should India become champions in the Caribbean? A hypothetical question, but it seems that the Indian board is planning a major rejig in all formats with an eye towards the future and there were enough cues in Jay Shah’s comments that they would not be averse to appointing a foreign coach after quite a while. The last time Indian men’s team had a foreign coach was in Duncan Fletcher till Shastri started his long reign in two phases.   

The deadline for applications for the head coach is 27 May and going by past experiences, unconfirmed names of candidates who have applied will start making the rounds in the media. While Shah says it’s the prerogative of their Cricket Advisory Committee – currently comprising of Ashok Malhotra, Jatin Paranjape and Sulakshana Naik – to take a final call after the presentations and interviews, no prizes for guessing whose vote will matter.

Informed sources say that after the initial screening which is done at the back-end of BCCI, only the few shortlisted names are then forwarded to the CAC. ‘’It’s precisely how the decision to appoint Ajit Agarkar as the chairman of selectors was taken,’’ the sources confirmed.

It’s early days but it would be a safe guess to factor in the candidature of VVS Laxman if the BCCI goes in for an insider and he is interested. Laxman, the wristy genius from Hyderabad had been working as the Director of National Cricket Academy (NCA) after Dravid’s exit, is no stranger to the ecosystem, commands a huge respect from the elite players and what’s more – had filled in in a series of assignments when Dravid was preoccupied.

However, the names of a foreign trio have also emerged in view of their global coaching experience – both in international cricket as well as franchises. Heading the list is Tom Moody, an ‘usual suspect’ in the past, the well respected Andy Flower and the tough taskmaster Justin Langer.  

 Well, the guessing game has just begun and it’s going to keep the Indian fans busy after the IPL is over and in the run-in to the World T20!

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