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Gautam Gambhir is yet to ink salary deal, first big ‘Test’ would be ‘Down Under’

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New Delhi, Jul 10 (PTI) The financial nitty-gritties of Gautam Gambhir’s appointment as India’s head coach are yet to be worked out but that’s the “last of his concerns” right now as he is focussed on getting a support staff of choice to prepare for the enormous challenges that await him during the three-year stint.

On Tuesday, BCCI secretary Jay Shah officially announced Gambhir’s appointment, which was on cards for a long time. However, it is learnt that his salary is yet to be finalised although it is expected to be in the same bracket as that of his predecessors Rahul Dravid and Ravi Shastri.

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“For Gautam, it was important that he took charge and salary and other stuff can be worked out as it’s not going anywhere. It is similar to the case of Ravi Shastri in 2014 when he was first made Director of Cricket over head coach Duncan Fletcher,” a BCCI source told PTI.

“The day Ravi joined, he didn’t even have a contract and things worked out. In case of Gautam also, some finer details are being worked out. The salary will be in the same range of Rahul Dravid,” he added.

It is understood that Gambhir will be given his own team to work with, who will also closely co-ordinate with the NCA (National Cricket Academy) coaches, who look after the pathways teams (India A and U-19) as well as the targetted players.

“I look forward to working closely with the BCCI, Head of Cricket – Mr VVS Laxman, the support staff, and, most importantly, the players, as we work towards achieving success in the upcoming tournaments,” Gambhir had said.

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Laxman is currently in Zimbabwe with the young T20 team, but it is expected that once he is back, the NCA head, along with the new head coach and chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar, the two captains Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya will have a discussion on the road ahead.

There is a lot of interest surrounding who will be Gambhir’s core support staff.

Abhishek Nayar, the head of KKR’s academy and a former Mumbai stalwart has been one of the key back-room strategists for the IPL franchise.

He is also known to be a life coach, who has helped players one-on-one on professional basis.

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More importantly, he is one of current captain Rohit Sharma’s closest friends. Having ticked all boxes, he looks set to be one of the assistant coaches.

One BCCI office-bearer, who primarily operates from Delhi, is believed to have floated the names of L Balaji and Zaheer Khan as two prospective candidates for the bowling coach’s job.

A few other reports have indicated R Vinay Kumar’s name, believed to be Gambhir’s choice.

However, it is understood that the BCCI has rejected the proposal even though there’s no confirmation of such a development from BCCI secretary Jay Shah, the man who matters in BCCI.

As far as the fielding coach’s role is concerned, Jonty Rhodes’ name seems to have cropped up again but if one looks at the trend of the past two coaching cycles, BCCI has always preferred one of its home-grown talents in the set-up.

For instance, R Sridhar was a core member of Shastri’s team and worked through the ranks in the NCA and the India U-19 set-up. Ditto for T Dilip, who worked extensively under Dravid at NCA and also went for India A assignments.

There is a school of thought that perhaps Munish Bali, who has been around the set-up for some time now and knows most of the youngsters coming through the system, can be given a try as well.

The T20I and ODI squad for the Sri Lanka series will be announced in the next few days but the IPL-winning former KKR mentor’s priority for the next one year would be the two traditional formats — ODIs and Tests.

Gambhir’s first big test would certainly be Australia, where India under Ravi Shastri’s tutelage had won back-to-back Test series in 2018-19 and 2020-21.

After 33 years (since 1991-92), India and Australia will be engaged in a five-Test series with the opening Test starting on one of the bounciest tracks — the Optus Stadium in Perth.

While Gambhir had spent enormous amount of time strategising for Delhi as its captain between 2013-17 in the Ranji Trophy, his standing as a red-ball coach will hinge a lot on a series, which will also prove to be decisive as far as India’s qualification for the World Test Championship is concerned.

In between, there would be the Champions Trophy in Pakistan but the BCCI is yet to give its go-ahead to the schedule.

Gambhir, who has always spoken about the sacrifices of the Indian Army, has been dead against playing any cricket in Pakistan.

Now on BCCI payrolls once again, it will be interesting to see what would be his stand about playing there when a major ICC title is at stake, should the tournament go ahead as planned.

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
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