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Gautam Gambhir yet to finalize salary deal, first major 'Test' Down Under looms: Report

Gautam Gambhir's appointment as India's head coach has been confirmed by BCCI secretary Jay Shah, marking a pivotal moment after prolonged anticipation.

Gautam Gambhir yet to finalize salary deal, first major 'Test' Down Under looms: Report snt
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First Published Jul 10, 2024, 5:28 PM IST

Gautam Gambhir's appointment as India's head coach has been confirmed by BCCI secretary Jay Shah, marking a pivotal moment after prolonged anticipation. Currently, Gambhir's immediate priority lies in assembling a support staff of his preference to tackle the substantial challenges ahead during his upcoming three-year tenure. While financial details regarding his salary remain to be settled, it is anticipated to align closely with previous coaches Rahul Dravid and Ravi Shastri.

"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 was quoted as saying in a PTI report.

"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.

Gambhir is reportedly set to lead his own dedicated team, which will collaborate closely with NCA (National Cricket Academy) coaches responsible for overseeing pathway teams like India A and U-19, along with targeted 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.

Laxman is presently in Zimbabwe with the young T20 team. Upon his return, discussions are anticipated among the NCA head, the new head coach, Ajit Agarkar, and the chairman of selectors, alongside captains Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya, to chart the course forward.

There is significant speculation regarding Gautam Gambhir's core support staff.

Abhishek Nayar, head of KKR's academy and a former Mumbai stalwart, has been pivotal as a backroom strategist for the IPL franchise. Known also for his role as a life coach, providing professional one-on-one support to players, Nayar is notably close to current captain Rohit Sharma. With a comprehensive fit to the requirements, he appears poised to join as one of the assistant coaches.

Meanwhile, a BCCI official, primarily based in Delhi, has reportedly suggested L Balaji and Zaheer Khan as potential candidates for the bowling coach position. Additionally, there are reports suggesting R Vinay Kumar, believed to be Gambhir's preference, as another contender for the role.

However, it is understood that the BCCI has dismissed the proposal, although there has been no official confirmation from BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who holds sway in BCCI matters.

Regarding the fielding coach position, Jonty Rhodes' name has surfaced again. However, historically, BCCI has preferred nurturing its own talent within the coaching setup over the last two cycles. For instance, R Sridhar rose through the ranks via NCA and the India U-19 setup under Shastri, while T Dilip gained extensive experience under Dravid at NCA and with India A assignments.

There is also consideration for Munish Bali, who has been involved with the setup for a considerable time and is familiar with most young players entering the system.

The T20I and ODI squads for the Sri Lanka series will soon be announced. However, the former IPL-winning KKR mentor's focus over the next year will primarily be on the traditional formats — ODIs and Tests.

Major challenges for Gambhir ahead

Gautam Gambhir faces a significant challenge ahead with India set to take on Australia, a team they last beat in consecutive Test series under Ravi Shastri's coaching in 2018-19 and 2020-21. This upcoming five-Test series, starting at Perth's Optus Stadium after a 33-year gap since 1991-92, marks Gambhir's first major test as a red-ball coach.

Having captained Delhi extensively in the Ranji Trophy from 2013 to 2017, Gambhir's coaching credentials will be closely scrutinized during this crucial series, pivotal for India's World Test Championship qualification.

Amidst these preparations, the Champions Trophy in Pakistan looms, pending confirmation from the BCCI. Gambhir, known for his unwavering support for the Indian Army, has been vocal against cricketing ties with Pakistan. Now back on the BCCI payroll, his stance on participating in the tournament, crucial for an ICC title, remains a point of keen interest.

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