Backdoor entry for assistant coaches?

The fact that the Board has sought applications only for the head coach — and not for assistant coaches as announced earlier — has given way to murmurs of BCCI likely to continue to give a free hand to the coach to rope in experts of his choice as assistants.

Ten days after announcing its intent of inviting applications for India’s cricket team’s coaching staff, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has formally advertised for the post of the head coach. The fact that the Board has sought applications only for the head coach — and not for assistant coaches as announced earlier — has given way to murmurs of BCCI likely to continue to give a free hand to the coach to rope in experts of his choice as assistants.

On May 22, BCCI president Anurag Thakur had said the BCCI will seek applications for “all posts”, including the head coach and assistant coaches. However, the advertisement released on its website, and shared by some ICC full members, is for only the head coach’s post. There isn’t a mention of assistant coach or specialist coach in the advertisement.

It clearly indicates that the BCCI hierarchy is in favour of continuing what is referred to as a “sidekick culture” among the fraternity. Ever since the BCCI appointed Greg Chappell as India’s second overseas coach in 2005, the Indian team has seen an influx of additional support staff as per the head coach’s preference. Chappell ensured Ian Frazer, a biomechanics expert, was also appointed for his controversial two-year tenure.

When Gary Kirsten came on board as the head coach in 2008, Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh were working as the bowling and fielding coach, respectively. The next year, however, the BCCI sidelined both the Indian assistants and brought in Eric Simons as bowling coach on Kirsten’s insistence.

While Duncan Fletcher continued the tradition by getting in Trevor Penny and Joe Dawes as fielding and bowling coach soon after joining the team in 2011, Ravi Shastri, the team director for 18 months till the conclusion of the World Twenty20, also handpicked three assistant coaches of his choice in R. Sridhar (fielding), B. Arun (bowling) and Sanjay Bangar (batting).

U-turn on Hindi clause

Meanwhile, less than 24 hours after advertising the eight-point clause, the BCCI has made a volte-face on communication skills in “Hindi desirable” clause by amending it. Point No. 6 of the original nine-point ad, released on Wednesday night, had stated: “Communication skills befitting the coach of an International team are mandatory along with the ability to effectively convey the right messages and must demonstrate proficiency in English. It is desirable to communicate in Hindi and other regional Indian languages.”

However, on Thursday, a BCCI statement modified the second sentence of the clause to: “The ability to communicate in an Indian language is desirable but by no means mandatory”.

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