The Powar Play in women's cricket

Ramesh Powar will have little time to make his presence felt as the new head coach of the Indian women’s team.

Ramesh Powar has taken over as the coach for three months.   -  Vivek Bendre

The prime objective for the new Indian women’s team coach Ramesh Powar will be to follow each player closely and ensure he hits the right chord with them during the ongoing Challenger Trophy in Alur.

Having taken over from Tushar Arothe, albeit for three months, the former India spinner has little time to deliver the goods, with the first assignment beginning in Sri Lanka in September.

A seasoned campaigner, Powar has worked with the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) Academy in the past and has recently worked with the women cricketers at a 12-day camp in Bengaluru. Perhaps that is why he is confident of pulling this one off. “I will put my best efforts to take Indian women’s cricket team ahead,” Powar tells Sportstar, thanking the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for giving him the “opportunity.”

Tricky task

But is the ride as simple as it looks?

In the last one-and-a-half years, Indian women’s cricket team has changed two coaches — Purnima Rau and Arothe. Now, Powar, the Board’s feasible stop-gap arrangement, is the third one to enter the ring. As a cricketer, he has been a top-notch professional. But walking into a territory which has had troubles in the recent past may be a bit of challenge for him.

Mamatha Maben, former India captain and one of the applicants for the coaching job, believes that coming in with a vast experience will help Powar. “It is true that he has very little time in hand, but then, having worked with these players in the recent camp will actually help him,” Mamatha says.

Last week, when the BCCI conducted interviews in Mumbai with 20 candidates, it wasn’t too sure about the recent Supreme Court ruling that a Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) has to be involved every time a national coach is appointed. Despite going ahead with the process and shortlisting six candidates, it had to put a pause to the selections because technically a CAC is not in place now. So, it was decided that Powar should be given charge till November.

Hands full

“That’s perhaps the best solution the Board had. With not much of clarity on the CAC, going ahead with Powar is a good decision. That will at least help the team maintain the continuity,” Mamatha says.

She, however, cautions that in the next three months, Powar will “have his hands full.”

“There are back-to-back tournaments, so the challenge will be there. But I am told he has done his level-three coaching from Australia and that will help him,” Mamatha says.

Shantha Rangaswamy, the former India captain and former chief national selector for the women’s team, however, believes that hiring coaches for such shorter terms is actually “not good for the game.”

“I am quite surprised,” she says.

‘Dangerous trend’

Accepting the fact of Arothe’s resignation — after a group of senior players complained against his way of handling the team — has left a bad taste in the mouth.

Rangaswamy admits that “it is a dangerous trend” for the game. “Ideally, it is not right. If sacking Purnima was wrong, then the treatment given to Tushar was even worse. The Board should not be listening to whatever a current player says. It is a dangerous trend,” she says, adding: “Then, what is BCCI meant for? This is going too far.”

Perhaps, that’s why Powar’s three-month stint becomes more important for women’s cricket in India. While most of the India players are part of the three-team Challenger Trophy, the team will gather in Chennai later this month for a preparatory camp ahead of its tour of Sri Lanka. Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana, too, will be joining the side next week, following their stints at the Kia Super League.

It will be interesting to see how Powar bats on a sticky wicket.