Looking at the options for India's batting and bowling coaches
As the most talked-about phenomenon in the Indian cricketing circuit – since the conclusion of Virat Kohli and his team's dramatic ascendance in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 – came to its conclusion, India embraced a home-grown and nurtured head coach for their cricket team for the first time in 16 years. Anil Kumble, the country’s most successful bowler in Test and ODI cricket, stepped up to the challenge, like he has always loved to, and was appointed as the Head Coach of the Indian Cricket Team for a period of 1 year.
This appointment also saw – for the first time in history – a transparent process being adopted for the aforementioned selection as a separate notification for the job was released and the interested people were invited to apply, subject to certain terms and conditions. Of the 57 applicants who had thrown their hats in, 21 were given the go ahead by the BCCI to appear for the interviews, to be conducted by the board’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) that comprised of names like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and VVS Laxman.
However, teams these days go for special expertise for every department as far as a cricket team and cricketing matters are concerned, and it has almost become a fashion (or a fad, depending upon the way you perceive it) to hire separate coaches for separate tasks. The previous camp of officials who worked with the Indian players comprised of the Team Director Ravi Shastri, the batting coach Sanjay Bangar, the bowling coach Bharat Arun and the fielding coach R Sridhar.
Needless to say that this time around too the board would, sooner or later, appoint separate coaches for batting and bowling as was evident from the introductory speech that Anurag Thakur, the president of the BCCI gave while announcing the name of the new coach. “After discussions, we have taken a final call that for one year Anil Kumble will be the head coach. Bowling and batting coaches will be decided later."
Several names spring to the mind when one thinks of the prospective candidates for the aforementioned roles. India have had a rich cricketing history and one doesn’t have to look too far in order to spot the probable contestants for the roles. In this piece, we take a look at a few such candidates and explore their expertise in order to make a case for them as the future batting/bowling coach of the Indian team.
In a country traditionally known for its batting heavyweights, the bowlers have been doing a pretty good job over the past two years or so, which in itself is a sign of changing dynamics as far as the Indian bowling is concerned. Impressive performances in global ICC tournaments, such as the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the ICC World T20 2016 as well as the Asia Cup T20 2016 have propelled the Indian bowling attack to a level of competitiveness and repute. In such a scenario, the second-highest wicket taker for India amongst fast bowlers in Tests, Zaheer Khan, who recently retired from all formats of competitive cricket qualifies as a major contender for the post of the bowling coach.
With 311 wickets from 92 Tests – out of which, 207 were taken outside India – Zaheer has been one of the best exponents of the new ball as well as the old ball amongst the modern-day cricketers. The 37-year-old’s long-standing association with the Indian team as well as his acquaintance with most of the cricketers who feature regularly in the Test and ODI squads would go a long way towards forming strong relationships both on and off the field, and given the influx of young fast bowlers that India have had over the past two years – with the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Barinder Sran, and Shardul Thakur knocking on the doors of the team – he can also train them the right away and prepare them for the challenges that international cricket poses.
Zaheer’s cricketing acumen can also be estimated by the way he led the Delhi Daredevils during the recently-concluded season of the Indian Premier League. A team that majorly consisted youngsters was led innovatively and to a certain extent of success, as the players like Karun Nair, Sanju Samson, and Rishabh Pant prospered under Zaheer’s leadership. Although the Daredevils couldn’t make it to the playoffs, their IPL campaign was nothing short of inspiring, wherein they posed a big challenge to all other teams who were considered to be better than them at least on the basis of experience.