Former India Test captain Anil Kumble was on Thursday named the new head coach of the Indian cricket team, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced in Dharamsala.
"After doing discussions with various stakeholders we have selected Anil Kumble for a period of one year," said BCCI president Anurag Thakur.
The 45-year-old spin great was chosen from a list of 57 applications received by the BCCI which was later pruned and placed in front of an advisory panel.
Advisory members Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman were instrumental in naming Kumble as coach.
The month-long process for selecting the coach culminated during the penultimate day of the ongoing BCCI Conclave.
Kumble did not fulfil the BCCI's stated criteria of 'having coached an international side', yet he nonetheless managed to sneak past many prominent Indian and foreign candidates.
The leg-spinner bagged 619 Test wickets in 132 matches and is only the second bowler in cricket history after England's Jim Laker to have taken all 10 in a Test innings.
His first coaching assignment will be India's upcoming tour of the West Indies in July.
Earlier, the drama over who will become Indian cricket team’s next coach reached new heights.
The Indian Express reported that a frenetic Wednesday started with Kumble ahead, and then a suspenseful wait ensued that brought back Shastri in the picture.
On Tuesday evening, Kumble had shared his vision with his former team-mates, the stellar cast from the past Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, and Shastri had made his case through a video interaction.
The morning after threw up more twists and turns.
The rumblings in the BCCI corridor suggested they were blindsided by the panel on Kumble's inclusion, were keen on Shastri instead, and speculations were rife that the board had the backing ofVirat Kohli, the present and future face of Indian team.
Ganguly and Tendulkar who have played vital roles in selecting and removing coaches in their own playing careers would have recognised the intricate power-play involved here.
So would the board. When they pruned the 57-candidates list to 21, and passed it on to the panel, Kumble wasn't named.
Confronted with a perception battle on their hands after a high-profile cricketer's interest in the job, they treaded carefully. ‘This was our criteria, Kumble doesn't fit, so we didn't include him, but we shall leave it to the panel to call candidates outside our 21,' was their approach.
"Kumble wasn't shortlisted first. People in the BCCI are well aware that Kumble doesn't meet two very important criteria set for the aspirants. He doesn't have any previous coaching experience at first-class or international level, nor is he a certified coach. This is why Kumble wasn't shortlisted following the initial scrutiny. But the committee wanted to look into his application, which was made available," a well-placed official told The Indian Express.
Kumble was later included in the list, ostensibly on the insistence of the four-member committee that has been formed to pick the right man for the job.
What about the input of Kohli the current Test captain? At the end of interviews, when Ganguly was asked then whether the captain had a say in the process, he said his panel wasn't required to speak to the players. "We're not going to consult the players, for the committee has been given the responsibility," Ganguly told the media.
For its part, the board chose to frame their response carefully. Asked if the committee's decision would be final, a cricket board functionary told this newspaper: "The working committee is the highest body of the BCCI and it has the power to seek clarification and ask for reconsideration."
How it transpired
At 5.45 pm on Wednesday, the board issued a media release which confirmed the story was far from over. "After detailed deliberations it was decided that they would further go through the finer details and submit their report to the Honorary Secretary of the BCCI on the morning of June 24, 2016," the BCCI said.
"The Committee appointed by the BCCI for the selection of Head Coach of the Indian Cricket Team met on Thursday to deliberate further on the options and possibilities based on the presentations made by the applicants.
Further, a section of the BCCI appeared to have taken exception to one of the committee members speaking to media during and after the interview process in Kolkata on Tuesday. "The (committee) members took an oath inside the boardroom that they would keep their counsel. Still one of them spoke in public," said a cricket board insider.
At around 9.45 pm on Tuesday, as he was leaving the hotel with Laxman after hours of interviews, Ganguly had summarised the day's events. "Around 10 candidates gave their interviews today, we have made our choice and the name will be forwarded to the Secretary tonight itself. The interview process is now over. There will be no more interviews after this."
When they originally formed the high-powered panel to choose the coach, it would have seemed to them like an open-and-shut case for Shastri. An informal feedback from the players, Kohli and company, had propped up Shastri as a popular candidate within the team.
A carefully worded criterion for the job, which even underwent a clarification over language skills, had seemingly placed Shastri ahead.
Suddenly, Kumble entered the contest at the last instant almost, queering the pitch. The panel comprising Sanjay Jagdale (coordinator), Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman had the option to look into all 57 applications and it apparently exercised its authority to incorporate Kumble.
In the past, during Shastri's tenure as Team Director, Kohli has publically acknowledged and raved about Shastri's contributions in reviving the team. "It's been wonderful to have him on board. It was one of the situations we needed to get together as a team and he helped us do that in a big way."
Kohli even pushed for Shastri to continue in the role. " As long as he wants to continue in that job, its going to be beneficial to team. He has given confidence to everyone in the team, we are are young side, you need someone who has been there and done that.
"He is someone who has played cricket on his own terms. Played it with lot of composure, character and belief. When a guy who has done all that talks to you, a young players gets confident. You can believe what he says," Kohli said. It would be interesting to see now if Kohli pitches in with more support for Shastri in the here and now.