New Delhi: India’s batting stalwart and former captain Rahul Dravid is all set to take over as the national cricket team’s head coach following the T20 World Cup in the UAE, having agreed to the BCCI’s offer after initial reluctance.
The 48-year-old Dravid, one of the greatest ever to have played for India, has been in charge of the national ‘A’ and U-19 set-up for the past six years and a lot of players such as Rishabh Pant, Avesh Khan, Prithvi Shaw, Hanuma Vihari, and Shubman Gill have come through the system prepared by him.
He currently heads the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and was in Dubai during the just-concluded IPL to meet his former teammate and BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and Board secretary Jay Shah for an elaborate discussion.
“Yes, Rahul has agreed to coach the Indian team till 2023 World Cup. Initially, he was reluctant but it is understood that president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah had a meeting with Rahul on the sidelines of the IPL final where they were able to convince him,” a BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
“It won’t be an interim role,” he added.
Dravid’s trusted lieutenant Paras Mhambrey is expected to be the bowling coach while Vikram Rathour is likely to continue as batting coach.
However, it is understood that the BCCI will nonetheless give an advertisement for the position to ensure that due process is followed. The Board has to form a Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), which would be mandated to complete the process as prescribed by the Lodha reforms.
The Board mandarins are mulling on how to make the best use of Dravid’s vast knowledge of talent resource in Indian cricket and his role may be a more holistic one rather than just being confined to the chief coach of the national team.
While India A or U-19 teams would have their respective coaches, the BCCI could well make Dravid, the head of all coaches, to whom all the cricketing departments, along with the NCA staff, report.
When Ganguly took charge of BCCI, he had spoken to the media about the synergy he wanted between the national team, age-group team as well as NCA which is the centre of excellence.
Having seen incumbent Ravi Shastri achieve a lot of success, the BCCI was always keen on appointing an Indian coach but there were only a few of stature. Shastri’s tenure ends with the T20 World Cup.
One former Indian captain and stalwart had refused to become the coach in the current team set-up as Virat Kohli still remains the Test and ODI captain.
It is learnt that bigger names were wary of coaching a team where Kohli had mostly called the shots till the Australia tour earlier this year.
The dynamics have changed ever since as the team out-maneuvered a stronger Australia in the absence of Kohli, who was on paternity leave at that time.
Shastri was in charge of the side at a fee of Rs 8.5 crore and it is understood that the BCCI is offering Dravid a significant hike, which will be more than his NCA remuneration as well as Shastri’s current pay cheque.
Also Dravid, who had in earlier years said no because of his young family, is expected to contribute in a broader manner.
Dravid’s elder son Samit has made a name for himself as a batter in the Karnataka’s age-group circle.
The basic idea behind having the Dravid-Mhambrey combination in the Indian team set-up is to ensure that in another two years, when the transition in the current team happens, the changing of nucleus is smooth.
“Rohit will be 35 next year, Virat is days away from his 33rd birthday. Apart from them Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane are all fantastic players but at some point during next two years, they will be phased out.
“The players who are set to come in are mostly from the U-19 set-up. So it’s imperative that Dravid is appointed,” the source said.
Also the fact that BCCI always wanted someone of real stature.
There culd have been none better than India’s second highest run-getter in Test cricket (13,288 runs), who also has nearly 11,000 (10,889) runs in ODI cricket.
It is expected that BCCI will complete the formalities of his appointment before the start of the New Zealand series in India from November 17.