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Gautam Gambhir frontrunner to replace Rahul Dravid for India coach’s post. Is he on board?



Gautam Gambhir frontrunner to replace Rahul Dravid for India coach’s post. Is he on board?

After leading Kolkata Knight Riders to their third Indian Premier League title triumph as team mentor, Gautam Gambhir met Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Jay Shah at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on Sunday night.

Jay Shah (L), secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) poses next to Kolkata Knight Riders’ team mentor Gautam Gambhir (AFP)

Gambhir is known to be a frontrunner for the post of India’s head coach to succeed Rahul Dravid, whose stint ends with next month’s T20 World Cup. However, even as the deadline to apply for the post ended on Monday evening, BCCI wasn’t in a position to confirm if Gambhir had formally expressed interest.

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“Let’s wait for the interview process,” a top official said. According to other officials close to the development, more discussions are expected between the two parties. With no tearing hurry to complete the appointment process, it could well be that the interview process to be conducted by BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) after all the applications are received may even stretch towards the backend of the World Cup.

If Gambhir takes the plunge, among other things there will be a revision in salary for the head coach with the former India player known to be earning a handsome sum from his services to KKR and his broadcast assignments. Currently, Dravid is paid in the range of 10 crore annually. However, given the stature of the job with the Indian team expected to undergo a transition soon and the board looking for a modern Indian coach who can bring the team back to winning ways in ICC events, remuneration may not be a stumbling block. The Indian board recently revised the chief selector’s pay three times to get Ajit Agarkar on board.

KKR understandably are keen to retain Gambhir as he has been at the forefront of each of their title wins – the previous ones in 2012 and 2014 were as captain. But they may be understanding of Gambhir’s coaching ambitions for the Indian team.

For now, there is not a yes or no coming from Gambhir’s corner. BCCI is searching for a long-term coach who will guide the team through the 2024-27 ICC events cycle which will have a ODI Champions Trophy, T20 World Cup and ODI World Cup, apart from two rounds of the World Test Championship.

It’s a commitment not a lot of established coaching names are willing to make given access to short-term lucrative jobs in T20 leagues, including IPL. After Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting denied they had joined the race for the India coaching job, BCCI went public to say they haven’t even approached any Australians.

“Finding the right coach for our national team is a meticulous and thorough process. We are focused on identifying individuals who possess a deep understanding of the Indian cricket structure and have risen through the ranks,” Jay Shah said.

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