It's official now. The Kapil Dev-led Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) will interview six shortlisted candidates – incumbent Ravi Shastri, Tom Moody, Mike Hesson, Robin Singh, Lalchand Rajput and Phil Simmons – for the post of the head coach of Indian national men's cricket team at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters in Mumbai on Friday.
Shastri, the incumbent, who was given a 45-day extension after the ICC Cricket World Cup, is almost certain to retain the position considering the clout, if we may, he has in the establishment. Shastri's tenure expires after the ongoing West Indies series.
India captain Virat Kohli openly voiced his support for Shastri before the team's departure for the Windies series. Even though Kapil Dev had earlier said that Kohli's desire will have little to no bearing when selecting the 'new' coach, but it's an open secret that the skipper holds a veto like power. Also, on and off, reports of other members of the CAC itself rooting for the former India all-rounder have kept emerging.
But as they say in cricket, nothing is over until the last ball is bowled. That very dictum should be kept in mind while waiting for the news on Friday.
By the way, it's reported that as the BCCI had received as many as 2000 applications for various coaching positions like batting, fielding and bowling coaches, but only a few for the head coach's position.
Here is a look at other five contenders for the top job:
Tom Moody (AUS): Former Australia all-rounder is the second favourite to land the job, but possibly the most qualified of all six contenders. But for the aforementioned fact regarding Shastri, he is likely to lose again. He applied for the same post in 2017, and was a strong contender way back in the early 2000s.
The 53-year-old famously helped Sri Lanka reach the final of 2007 World Cup, but his reputation as a successful coach has indeed established in various domestic leagues, including the cash-rich IPL. He was instrumental in establishing Western Australia in Australia, Worcestershire in England and SunRisers Hyderabad in India as teams to beat. Besides coaching, he also held positions in cricket administration.
If the CAC is looking to replace Shastri, then Moody will be the one to go for.
Mike Hesson (NZ): The former New Zealand coach (2012 to 2018) was in charge of Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season. He left the position just in time to apply for the India job. He also coached Argentina and Kenya.
A respected figure in world cricket, the 44-year-old helped revive New Zealand. Along with the then skipper Brendon McCullum, Henson helped the Kiwis reach the 2015 World Cup final. He is the only shortlisted candidate to have not played international cricket.
He is third in the pecking order. And it's as good as over.
Lalchand Rajput (IND): The former India batsman is always in the running for the India job. He has established himself as capable man-manager and was involved with India A, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe teams. In fact, he helped the Winnipeg Hawks to the GLT20 title. But he is best known for managing the Indian teams which won the inaugural WorldT20 title in 2007 and the CB Tri-Series in Australia the following year.
Very unlikely to get the job.
Phil Simmons (WI): Former West Indies resigned as the head coach of Afghanistan after the 2019 World Cup. Before that, he coached the national teams of Zimbabwe, Ireland and West Indies. His latest engagement was with the Brampton Wolves in the Global T20 Canada. The 56-year-old is one of the surprises shortlists candidates for the India job, besides former India all-rounder Robin Singh.
His chances are is almost nil.
Robin Singh (IND): He is the least experienced of the six shortlisted candidates and is primarily known as a fielding coach. One of the best fielders in his playing days, Robin Singh became India's fielding coach in 2007. Before that he was the head coach of Hong Kong national team and India A. He has since been involved with various T20 franchises, including Mumbai Indias in IPL, the Khulna Division cricket team in the Bangladesh Premier League, the Barbados Tridents in Caribbean Premier League etc.
His chances are also almost nil.