CIC to decide Dighe’s replacement

The Asian Age.  | Irfan Haji

Sports, Cricket

The MCA’s Cricket Improvement Committee headed by Agarkar is likely to convene a meeting next week to discuss potential candidates.

Ajit Agarkar

After coach Sameer Dighe’s resignation, the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC) is set to convene a meeting next week. The CIC will decide whether to advertise for the job and invite applications and conduct interviews for short-listed candidates or directly discuss potential replacements as the new coach for the forthcoming season starting from September-October.

Before the season starts, MCA normally conducts a pre-season camp for the Ranji probables and the coach has to be named before the camp.

The 41-time Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai are coming off a difficult 2017-18 domestic season, where they were beaten in the quarter-final of both the Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy, by Karnataka and Maharashtra respectively.  They lost four of their five matches in the All India Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s.

Bombay High Court appointed retired judges - HL Gokhale and VM Kanade are currently acting as administrators of MCA but CIC like previous years is likely to take a final call on the appointment of the new coach. The CIC comprises of former Mumbai skippers Ajit Wadekar, Ajit Agarkar and Amol Muzumdar. Agarkar heads the committee currently.

The potential contenders for a coaching job could be-

Sulakshan Kulkarni: The former Mumbai coach who was replaced by Chandrakant Pandit seems to be a favourite candidate for the job. The former Mumbai stumper has worked with Aditya Tare and Co and also won a title during his tenure. He doesn’t have major roles in his kitty and seems to be in good books with skipper Tare.

Praveen Amre: The former India batsman has coached Mumbai for six seasons during which Mumbai won three titles. Though he isn’t in the CIC anymore, which he headed previously, but he has had roles in Shivaji Park, Air India and personalised coaching roles for top India cricketers.  If interested CIC may want him to commit himself to Mumbai as during his previous tenures.

Chandrakant Pandit: The former India stumper has had successful coaching stints with Mumbai in the past. He coached Mumbai to the finals first, then the 41st Ranji Trophy title win and later led it into the final. But he was surprisingly sacked and replaced by Sameer Dighe. Panit took the Vidarbha job and led them to the maiden Ranji Trophy title. He still has a contract with VCA and it is unlikely he will return to Mumbai soon after the treatment he was given last season. Known for maintaining discipline, many feel he is the right candidate for the current Mumbai team.

Balwinder Singh Sandhu: India's 1983 World Cupper has coached Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh and Baroda in the past. He also doesn’t seem to have major coaching assignments and if he applies he could land a job if CIC opts for vast experience. Also after Dhawal Kulkarni and Shardul Thakur Mumbai hasn’t been able to find a regular bowler in the team, be a pacer or spinner. Former medium pacer Sandhu can be the ideal candidate to try to bridge that gap. Last year they went for fresh ideas which didn’t work. So this season they can go for a tried and tested coach.

Lalchand Rajput: The former India and Mumbai opener has been appointed Zimbabwe’s interim coach recently. If interested, he will have commitments until July end and may not be available to run MCA’s summer camp. Also being a respected International coach, MCA will have to look out of their budget to hire Rajput.

Ramesh Powar: The former Mumbai spinner could have been the right candidate to address Mumbai’s spin bowling woe’s in the last few years. But he quit MCA’s Academy early this year after getting miffed with MCA’s ‘unprofessional’ attitude and later took a job to coach young Australian spinners. It may take some convincing to bring him back.

Agarkar and Muzumdar if available are also the potential candidates for coaching Mumbai if they stick with a ‘fresh ideas’ policy like last season. Agarkar knows Mumbai team members well while Muzumdar has started his coaching job recently. But then they might have to quit present roles in CIC to stand a chance. Agarkar is also the current Chairman of Selectors and he also analyses international matches for a website while Muzumdar joined Rajasthan Royals as batting coach prior to IPL-11 and commentates during domestic matches.

Besides these contenders MCA can look out with in or outside India. The possibility of a foreign coach can’t be ruled out if MCA sticks to the last year stance of fresh ideas and are ready to shell out more money.