Gautam Gambhir: The new India cricket coach who doesn’t like ‘star culture’

By Ayaz MemonCricket writer

AFP Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir celebrates after his team won the IPL Twenty20 first playoff cricket match between Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders at Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune on May 22, 2012AFP

At 42, Gautam Gambhir, is the youngest head mentor in the background of the Indian cricket team.

He succeeds Rahul Dravid, whose career came to an end with the late concluded T20 World Cup.

Dravid opted not to extend his family’s period so they could spend more time together. VVS Laxman, his former bowling companion, was immediately favoured but opted to stay at the National Cricket Academy. This cleared the way for a new experience, resulting in an undisputed choice.

Some sudden developments in the past six-seven times had fast-tracked Gambhir’s reservation.

After leading the IPL team to the knockout stages in two earlier months, he unfortunately resigned as his coach last November. Instead, he reunited with his former IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR ), where he had previously led them to titles in 2012 and 2014 as a captain.

AFP Mumbai Indians' Rohit Sharma (R) greets Kolkata Knight Riders' mentor Gautam Gambhir at the end of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 11, 2024.AFP

After retiring from cricket in 2018 and winning the 2019 general election, Gambhir, who now leads the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP), informed the BJP leadership of his decision to leave politics to devote himself fully to cricket once more.

However, his qualifications as the national team’s head coach were lukewarm until KKR hit a rough patch, winning numerous matches on the streak, and focusing on him.

The selection of a general trainer is a difficult task.

Through the internet, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) invites prospects from India or abroad who meet certain eligibility requirements ( for example, those who have played 30 Test matches or 50 ODIs and who are under 60 years old ) to apply.

The Board’s Advisory Committee ( CAC ) reviews applications. Shortlisted individuals are then invited for one-on-one conversations to share their ideas for advancing Indian cricket.

Getty Images Gautam Gambhir of India plays a shot during the 2011 ICC World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, India on April 2, 2011Getty Images

The career is chosen for the candidate who proposes the most remarkable strategies and procedures.

In Gambhir’s event, the presence of any enemy made the task of the CAC a no-brainer.

After the BCCI’s notice seeking applications for the post, stories about some overseas coaches being approached informally ( likely self-instigated ) began swirling around, but died a quick death.

Unlike in the past, when an overseas manager was sought to counter disunity, favouritism, and insularity in Indian baseball, today’s preference is for an American coach who much understands the country’s ethos, culture, and psychology.

Previous India opening W Raman, who has coached the American women’s group, did show interest in taking up the assignment. His CV was impressive, but at 59, he perhaps sensed he did n’t have time on his side to build up a three-year game-plan that would get a buy-in from the BCCI and held back.

AFP Kolkata Knight Riders cricketer Gautam Gambhir celebrates with teammate Laxmipathy Balaji after winning the IPL Twenty20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 16,AFP

Gambhir was the only person, and his successful coaching of KKR to an IPL defeat made him the pioneer. With Dravid’s solid position during the T20 World Cup that he would n’t remain, Gambhir’s interview became inevitable.

His appointment is n’t without merit though. Beyond his IPL victory, he has amazing credentials as an India person. A fashionable left-handed player, he debuted in 2003 and is one of India’s most accomplished openers with brilliant achievements across all types.

For example, Gambhir batted 436 pellets in the second Test against New Zealand in 2009 to index an incredible 137 that helped India win the match after being forced to play the next one. This blow gave India the series lead.

Two years earlier, in the last of the annual T20 World Cup final against Pakistan, Gambhir was the leading scorer with 75. Likewise, in the 2011 ODI World Cup final against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium, he top-scored with 97.

AFP Member of the Lok Sabha in East Delhi Gautam Gambhir, BJP Delhi President Virendraa Sachdeva with Devotees offering prayers on the occasion of Chhath Puja 2023 at ITO Ghat, on November 19, 2023 in New Delhi, IndiaAFP

Feisty and harsh, Gambhir’s powerful, unsmiling demeanour has frequently led reviewers to see him as standoffish.

Follow asserts that he despises American cricket’s emphasis on stars rather than on superstar performances. He thinks that the intrinsic improvement of Indian cricket should n’t be overshadowed by the brand value of a select few people.

The head coach of India is among the most coveted jobs in the sport, guaranteeing, apart from enormous prestige and power, a lip-smacking pay package in excess of$ 1m per year plus bonuses. But in a cricket-crazy state, this does not occur without great burden of responsibility and humongous force of desire.

For the next three decades, India has a hectic calendar- it will participate in the Champions Trophy this month, the World Test Championship second year, the T20 World Cup in 2026 and the ODI World Cup in 2027, along with diplomatic projects.

Gambhir must maintain grooming place superstars, handle millennial transitions, and implement changes in attitude, strategies, and skills to maintain and improve India’s place in baseball.

Although being the head manager is a prominent position, Gambhir has a formidable work ahead.