Former India batsman and selector Vikram Rathour is all set to replace Sanjay Bangar as the new batting coach of the senior men's team, with only formalities left to be completed. However, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar will retain their positions for another two years. India's selection panel, led by MSK Prasad, shortlisted three candidates each for all the support staff positions with Rathour, Arun and Sridhar leading their respective lists in "order of priority" as "unanimous" choices, and will be officially appointed after formalities, barring any conflict-of-interest possibilities.
The two other candidates shortlisted in each category were Bangar and former England batsman Mark Ramprakash for batting coach, Paras Mhambrey and Venkatesh Prasad for bowling coach, and Abhay Sharma and T Dilip for fielding coach. These men, barring Ramprakash, will work with the 'A' team, and at times at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
The support staff will be appointed for a period of two years, starting with the home series against South Africa in September and lasting till the T20 World Cup in 2021.
Prasad did not give a specific reason why only Bangar was being replaced in the support staff. "In the last five years, there is definitely some amount of improvement. Looking ahead, with the Test Championship coming up and two T20 World Cups, we thought that there should be freshness in the department," Prasad explained. "That's the reason why we went ahead with Vikram Rathour as first choice.
"He was the director of HPCA [Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association], he was also the coach of Punjab Cricket Association, he was also an assistant coach with Kings XI Punjab, so he's got enough experience behind him. Apart from that, he has been doing a lot of assignments with the National Cricket Academy, so we are convinced with his skill-sets and we thought that he'd be our first preference."
That Rathour is the brother-in-law of former India offspinner and current Under-19 selector Aashish Kapoor also came up as a possible conflict-of-interest possibility but BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri clarified that there were no such issues.
"This was discussed at the CoA meeting also because the CoA was presented with the shortlist," Johri said. "Now, his brother-in-law is the selector of the Under-19 junior committee, and this is the batting coach of the men's senior team, so we do not think there's any conflict of interest."
A total of 14 candidates were interviewed for batting coach, 12 for bowling coach, nine for fielding coach, 16 for physiotherapist, 12 for strength and conditioning coach, and 24 for administrative manager. All the interviews for the above positions took place in Mumbai from Monday to Thursday.
When asked, Prasad said that the team management and two Cricket Advisory Committee members - Kapil Dev and Anshuman Gaekwad - were also asked for their views for the support staff positions but the selection committee took the final decisions on its own "in a fair manner". Prasad, however, suggested that going ahead, officially involving the CAC chairman could be helpful in picking the support staff. "The CAC chairman will definitely add value because they've conducted the interview for the head coach so there will be continuity and consistency," he said.
Among the selectors, Prasad, Sarandeep Singh, Gagan Khoda and Jatin Paranjape were present in person, while Devang Gandhi attended via video conference from the West Indies while conducting the interviews.
The candidates shortlisted for the post of physiotherapist were Nitin Patel, Andrew Leipus and Vaibhav Daga, and the three finalised for the post of administrative manager were Girish Dongre, Venkatesh Rajagopalan and Anand Yalvigi. The selection panel also decided to call the following candidates for a second round of interviews for the post of strength and conditioning coach: Luke Woodhouse, Grant Luden, Rajnikanth Sivagnanam, Nick Webb and Anand Date.
The contracts of head coach Ravi Shastri and the entire support staff had expired after the World Cup before they got a temporary extension for the ongoing tour of the West Indies and the USA. Shastri was then reappointed for a two-year period earlier this month by the CAC and the selection panel was tasked with appointing the support staff.