Why Vikram Rathour was picked as batting coach replacing Sanjay Bangar
Member of BCCI selection committee that picked Vikram Rathour as India's batting coach, replacing Sanjay Bangar, explains reasons behind the move
With the Indian batsmen struggling against the West Indies in the first Test yesterday, the BCCI could not have timed the announcement of the new batting coach better. Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad came to address the media after watching Cheteshwar Pujara dismissed for two. The batting coach position was the only contentious spot up for grabs. Prasad & Co, who consulted the Cricket Advisory Committee and also sought the views of head coach Ravi Shastri, shortlisted former national selector Vikram Rathour for the batting coach's job. Incumbent Sanjay Bangar was their second choice while England's Mark Ramprakash was the third option.
Arun, Sridhar retained
Prasad's selection committee was tasked to interview candidates for batting, bowling and fielding coaches besides appointing the physio, trainer and administrative manager for Team India. While the bowling (Bharath Arun) and fielding (R Sridhar) coaches have been retained, batting was an area that needed "fresh ideas," felt the selection committee.
"The [Indian] batting was getting too monotonous. The pattern in which our batting department was shaping was too predictable. We wanted a new approach and some fresh ideas. We want a bit of aggression in our batting too. And with the two T20 World Cups coming up [2020 and 2021], it is better to start that process now," a source, who was privy to the interview process, told mid-day.
Under Bangar's five-year stint with Team India, a lot of batsmen have prospered but there have been quite a few slumps too. The latest cases being KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane. While Rahul did bounce back to form in limited-overs cricket, courtesy a good IPL, Rahane has been without a ton in Test cricket for the last two years. Did these cases influence the selectors to opt for change? "That could be one of the reasons, but it is an overall assessment that made the selection committee look beyond Bangar. He has been with the Indian team since 2014," said a source.
It is learnt that Rathour, who had the backing of a top BCCI official, impressed the selection committee with his ideas. Rathour, however, has not successfully coached a prominent team, but that did not deter Prasad & Co from not picking him. "He [Rathour] was the director of HPCA [Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association]. He was also one of the coaches at the Punjab Cricket Association and the became assistant coach of Kings XI Punjab. So he does have enough experience behind him. Apart from that, he has been doing a lot of assignments with the National Cricket Academy [NCA], so we are convinced of his skill sets and felt he should be our first preference," said Prasad.
Rathour's appointment in the past has attracted Conflict of Interest allegations. In February, he had applied for the job of batting coach for the India 'A' and U-19 teams but he could not be appointed after it came to light that his brother-in-law Ashish Kapoor was a junior national selector. Last month, Rathour had also applied for the NCA batting coach position.
Though BCCI CEO Rahul Johri said a Conflict of Interest declaration will be taken from all shortlisted candidates before making their appointment official, in Rathour's case there will be a bit more closer scrutiny since he is related to Kapoor. "This was discussed at the CoA meeting also. Now, his brother-in-law is a chief selector of the junior team. This is batting coach of the men's senior team, so we don't think there is any conflict here," said Johri.
No backing from Shastri
Coming back to Bangar, the Indian batsmen's flop show in the ICC World Cup semi-final against New Zealand was understood to be the reason he found no backing from Shastri. However, Prasad clarified that the former India all-rounder was not being made a scapegoat here. "I don't agree with that. We have heard his presentation. Let anybody say anything, we have conducted the interviews in the most honest and fair manner and felt that Vikram Rathour should be the first preference," said Prasad.
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