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Race for Team India's coach: Sourav Ganguly vs Rahul Dravid
If a source in the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) is to be believed, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly has informally expressed to Jagmohan Dalmiya, the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), his desire to assume the mantle of Team India's cricket coach, replacing Duncan Fletcher whose tenure ended after the recently-concluded ODI World Cup.

While Ganguly has chosen not to give credence to the reports saying, "I don't want to say anything on this; let's not speculate," and Dalmiya has responded saying, "Wait for 10-odd days and you will get to know," the fact remains that Dalmiya, who is trying to find his moorings in the post-Srinivasan dispensation, would not mind having a fellow CAB member (Ganguly is joint secretary of CAB) in the all-important position of team coach.

The BCCI has two options. It may persist with the existing arrangement of having a team director (a position that Ravi Shastri has held since August 2014), with three low-profile former players functioning under him as coaches for batting, bowling, and fielding. Or, it may dispense with the position of team director and opt for a high profile coach who takes care of all cricketing aspects with the help of a few assistants.

Whatever option the BCCI chooses to go with eventually, Ganguly remains a formidable contender for either position: the all-powerful team director or team coach. For, Ganguly brings to the table impeccable credentials that not many candidates aspiring for the post can boast of. He has an enviable record as the captain of India and is known for his tactical acumen and intense competitiveness.

Though the aspirants to the coaching job should apply for the same, make a presentation outlining their vision for the team, and appear for an interview conducted by a panel comprising former India cricket captains and BCCI office-bearers, these become just procedural formalities if the BCCI chief Dalmiya chooses to back Ganguly's candidacy.

That brings us to the question whether Ganguly would be the right choice for the position of team coach.

Ganguly was easily one of the most successful and respected cricket captains of India. He was made captain of the team when Indian cricket had hit rock bottom mired in match-fixing scandals, and he justified the faith that the BCCI and the selectors had reposed in him with his winning ways.

Ganguly's reputation as a go-getter who relishes challenges, his in-your-face aggression, and his ability to recognize and nurture talent and get the best out of his players easily make him best suited for the role of Team India coach.

However, even if Ganguly has, as reported, expressed his desire to coach the team, it is anybody's guess whether everyone in the BCCI and the cricketing fraternity would be enthusiastic about the idea.

While Ganguly as coach can certainly help Team India evolve as a fighting unit with his no-nonsense approach, what may go against him is his past reputation for speaking his mind. If anything, Ganguly's penchant for confrontations, his eagerness to wear his aggression on his sleeves, and his competitiveness that borders on bluster might not make him BCCI's natural choice for the position of team coach.

Not surprisingly, a section of the BCCI wants to instead consider former India captain Rahul Dravid for the post. Dravid's quiet but efficient contribution as the mentor/coach of Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) qualifies him for the post of national cricket coach, his supporters reckon.

What's more, Dravid's low-profile approach, his unassuming ways, and the all-round respect he commands from the young cricketers make him an ideal choice for the position of the team coach, especially in the light of the fact that the young and overtly aggressive Virat Kohli has already been made the captain of the team in the Tests.

The reasoning goes thus: while Dravid as coach would counterbalance and complement captain Kohli's aggression with his sagacity and quietude, anointing an equally domineering Ganguly as coach with Kohli as captain is akin to keeping two sharp swords in one sheath, the inevitable fallout of which would be personality clash, unwholesome friction, and low team morale.

However, it all depends on whether both Ganguly and Dravid choose to throw their hats in the ring or whether the Board chooses to sound out any of them. While there were reports earlier that India's ex-Test captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had recommended Australian batsman and fellow Chennai Super Kings (CSK) player Michael Hussey for the post of India's cricket coach, Dhoni's word may not carry much weight in the in the post-Srinivasan scenario.

Interestingly, former Australian cricketer Dean Jones has suggested an arrangement that is similar to what is followed in Australia: India should appoint Ganguly as the coach for shorter formats like T20s and ODIs and Dravid for Tests, and retain Ravi Shastri as the high-performance manager to oversee everything.

As Jones put it, "India has enough coaches. No need for a foreigner. Two coaches under Ravi will be great. There is way too much cricket and players hate to see the same face every time."

Jones is right about the "too much cricket" part. A tightly packed schedule -- featuring a liberal mix of Tests, ODIs, and T20s -- awaits India in the next one year. Between the ongoing eighth season of IPL and the ninth season in 2016, India is tentatively scheduled to tour Bangladesh in June 2015; host Pakistan in August 2015, South Africa in October-December 2015, Sri Lanka in December 2015-January 2016, and Australia in January-February 2016; tour West Indies in February-March 2016; and host T20 World Cup in March-April 2016.

That means the time is ripe for trying out the model suggested by Dean Jones, that is, appoint Dravid as coach for the Test team and Ganguly for the ODI/T20 teams (with or without a high-performance manager) in what could be called a horses-for-courses approach. After all, the longer and shorter versions of the game require different approaches and strategies, and two individuals could do it better than one individual trying to think differently for each version.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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