The application for the post of the India women’s cricket team coach has seen plenty of twists and turns. The likes of Manoj Prabhakar and Herschelle Gibbs, who have been accused of match-fixing, are several applicants but the conundrum has deepened even further with Ramesh Powar, whose tenure was not renewed after India’s exit in the semi-final of the ICC Women’s World T20 in the West Indies, has reapplied for the post after getting strong support from India women’s skipper Harmanpreet Kaur. Speaking to PTI, Powar confirmed that he had applied. “"Yes, I have applied this evening because Smriti (Mandhana), Harmanpreet (Kaur) have supported me and I can't let them (the girls) down by not applying," said Powar.
During the ICC Women’s World T20 semi-final, the team management including Powar and Harmanpreet dropped Mithali Raj, triggering a massive controversy. After returning home from the West Indies, Mithali went on to accuse Powar and COA member Diana Edulji of trying to destroy her and being biased against her. Powar, on his part, accused Mithali of threatening to retire midway into the World T20 after being denied the opening slot and creating chaos in the team. Following the controversy, the BCCI decided to invite fresh applications for the post and set the application deadline for December 14. Harmanpreet and Smriti have already said that they want Powar to continue while Mithali is against his return. Even the Committee of Administrators, comprising Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji, are at loggerheads over the women's coach appointment.
Poisoned chalice of women’s coaching
Following the exit of Powar, there have been several names that have cropped up in the application for the post. However, one name that has garnered the most controversy is Manoj Prabhakar, who was banned for five years following the match-fixing scandal in 2000. What confounds the situation even more is that Prabhakar’s interview will be conducted by a panel headed by Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy.
From their playing days till the match-fixing controversy 2000, acrimony between Prabhakar and Kapil is well known in Indian cricket circles. Following the scandal, Prabhakar had written in a column that named the player who offered him money to underperform to a 'big gun' in the government. But Prabhakar refused to name him in a public forum. However, IS Bindra, the former president of the BCCI, said Prabhakar had taken Kapil’s name. In an interview to the BBC, Kapil broke down and wept bitterly when asked about the allegations of matchfixing.
Even the name of Gibbs, the former South Africa opening batsmen, is certain to draw some negative attention. Gibbs was handed a six-month ban for his involvement in the match-fixing saga but recently on his Twitter handle, Gibbs confirmed he had applied for the post of India women’s coach.