Will Amarnath be seriously considered for coach job?

Published: Monday, May 16, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:Even as the countdown begins to pick the new coach of Team India, speculations are rife about who would be the most likely candidate to land the plum post.

Officially, BCCI has shortlisted four names-Greg Chappell, Tom Moody, Mohinder Amarnath and Sandeep Patil for an interview to be conducted on May 19. But it's been largely felt that two Indian names-Mohinder Amarnath and Sandeep Patil were shortlisted to give out a picture that BCCI hasn't quite slammed the door on their thoughts of angling for a desi coach.

Prior to the BCCI's official shortlisting announcement, the two shortlisted Indian names were never the most talked-about names. Their names actually came like a bolt from the blue.

Instead, the likes of Dav Whatmore (current Bangladesh coach) and Dean Jones were consistently bandied about as the likely candidates in the race but both were not named among the shortlisted candidates.

Surprisingly, Sunil Gavaskar who wields a huge clout in Indian cricket circles, impressed upon the other members of the committee to induct some Indian names. As it were, the two Indians were named among the shortlisted foursome not because the Indian board was going to buck the tradition of appointing a foreign coach but more so to satisfy certain quarters that the board was open about appointing a coach of any caste, creed or colour.

To spice up the whole issue, one of the shortlisted candidates- Sandeep Patil opted out of the race. Patil probably realized that it was a futile exercise to appear for an interview for a post where he stood little chance against the likes of Australian legend Greg Chappell and fellow country mate Tom Moody.

Patil didn't want to lose out financially by going back on his Oman coaching commitments as he was clear in his mind that the Indian coach job was a far off thing for him at least for the moment.

Intriguingly, Mohinder Amarnath, who had ruffled the feathers of the national selectors when he described the selectors as 'a bunch of jokers' after being dropped from the national side in 1989, is doing his cause no good by publicly declaring that the Indian coaches are equally efficient like the foreigners.

For someone, who always speakes his mind, Amarnath could have timed his comments better as it unnecessarily put the BCCI in an embarrassing position.

Had he uttered those remarks before the shortlisting happened, one could see some sense in it. But certainly not after you are invited for an interview. Whether he rubbed the BCCI hierarchy the right or wrong way is anybody's guess!

Of course, Amarnath's cricket acumen is second to none. He is hugely respected worldwide for his tenacity, grit and fighting spirit. Arguably one of the best players of fast bowling to have emerged from India, Amarnath haven't quite been the person favourably disposed towards the high and mighty in BCCI.

The move to invite former West Indies opener Desmond Haynes for the May 19 interview is little confusing as he has no senior level coaching experience. No doubt as a batsman, he has been a class act for the West Indies and formed one of the potent Test opening combination with Gordon Greenidge but coaching an international outfit is an altogether different kettle of fish.

Very few would argue that there's isn't any written law that a player who had been super star in his playing days would go on and achieve the same as coach. For stalwarts like Sir Vivian Richards, Kapil Dev had been abject failures as coach of their respective national sides.

Though four former cricketers have been shorlisted, the choice in all likelihood should boil down to two Australians-Greg Chappell and Tom Moody.

Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly's liking for Greg Chappell is well known but the same cannot be said about the team members. Most of the team members are in favour of an all-rounder coach who could lend his expertise in the bowling department.

After all, the Indian team has been bereft of a bowling except for the temporary appointment of Aussie left-armer Bruce Reid as bowling coach on the 2003-04 Australia tour. If the pleas of the team members is heeded to, then Tom Moody could be primed to take over the reins from John Wright.

Present experience-wise Tom Moody is well placed. Currently serving as a Cricket Director of Worcestershire, Moody has the credentials though his international career never blossomed to heights he would have wished for.

Greg Chappell, who had coached South Australia, has tremendous cricketing nous and is respected by the players. He had captained Australia by example and it would be interesting to see how a person of Chappell's stature can be overlooked for the coach job.

However, from the Indian perspective, Mohinder Amarnath could spring a surprise or two. He is known as the 'comeback man' of Indian cricket and this could be another grand comeback of 'Jimmy' to Indian cricket.

An appointment of another foreign coach may serve the needs of the Indian team and may go down well with one and all but merely including an Indian among the shortlisted candidates for name's sake would be like putting the cricket-crazy nation in poor light.

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