Gautam Gambhir unveiled as India’s new head coach

July 10: Gautam Gambhir will be India’s next head coach, succeeding Rahul Dravid, who ended his tenure after overseeing India’s victorious T20 World Cup 2024 campaign. BCCI secretary Jay Shah made the announcement via X (formerly Twitter).

Gambhir’s first assignment in charge will be a white-ball tour of Sri Lanka, comprising three ODIs and three T20Is, later this month.

“India is my identity and serving my country has been the greatest privilege of my life,” he said on X. “I’m honoured to be back, albeit wearing a different hat. But my goal is the same as it has always been, to make every Indian proud. The men in blue shoulder the dreams of 1.4 billion Indians and I will do everything in my power to make these dreams come true!”

In its official press release confirming Gambhir’s appointment, the BCCI indicated that the tenures of the assistant coaches who had worked with Dravid – Vikram Rathour (batting), Paras Mhambrey (bowling) and T Dilip (fielding) – had come to an end. “The BCCI values their contribution and wishes them the best going forward,” the release said.

The 42-year-old Gambhir takes over a team riding a wave of immense success. They reached the finals of both the World Test Championship and the ODI World Cup last year before becoming T20 World Champions, and they are on course to reach their third successive WTC final next year. The team, however, is in the middle of a transition away from one of its most glittering eras. He takes over the T20I side following the retirements of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja from that format. A number of other stars in their mid-to-late 30s, including R Ashwin and Mohammed Shami, could be nearing the end of their careers in other formats too.

The BCCI had earlier said the new head coach would be appointed from July for a term of three-and-a-half years until December 2027 and would be in charge of the team across all three formats.

While the BCCI had advertised for candidates for the role and set a deadline for applications as May 27, the board had held discussions with Gambhir during IPL 2024, where he was Kolkata Knight Riders’ mentor during their run to the title.

Before joining KKR in November 2023, Gambhir had been a mentor at Lucknow Super Giants during IPL 2022 and 2023, helping them qualify for the playoffs in both seasons. These are the only coaching roles he has had since the end of his playing career. During his India career, Gambhir played crucial roles in winning the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 ODI World Cup, top-scoring for India in the finals of both tournaments. He also captained KKR to two IPL titles, in 2012 and 2014.

He had requested for time to make a decision during IPL 2024, but once the season was over he expressed his desire to coach India at an event in Abu Dhabi on June 1.

“Look, I would love to coach the Indian team,” Gambhir said when asked by a youngster whether he would help India win the World Cup. “There is no bigger honour. There is no bigger honour than coaching your national team. You are representing 140 crore Indians. And more across the globe as well. And when you represent India, how can it get bigger than that?

“How can I help India win the World Cup – I think it’s not me that will help India win the World Cup, it is 140 crore Indians that will help India win the World Cup. If everyone starts praying for us, and we start playing and representing them, India will win the World Cup. The most important thing is to be fearless and yes, I would love to coach India.”

Gambhir became the frontrunner to succeed Dravid, especially after his former India team-mate VVS Laxman told BCCI he was not interested in the job. Laxman is currently the director of cricket at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and is coaching India on an interim basis during their ongoing five-match T20I series in Zimbabwe.

Dravid took over from Ravi Shastri after the T20 World Cup in November 2021 for two years until the 2023 ODI World Cup. He then agreed to the BCCI’s request to extend his tenure until the end of the T20 World Cup 2024 and helped India lift their first ICC trophy since 2013. (ESPNcricinfo)

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