It is all set to be an interesting few weeks in the subcontinent with head coach positions opening up left, right and centre.
All five international sides in the region – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – are on the lookout for a new head coach following the completion of the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.
Ravi Shastri’s contract with the Indian team is up and the BCCI has already invited applications from interested candidates. Pakistan have opted against renewing Mickey Arthur’s contract while Bangladesh have parted ways with Steve Rhodes just one year into his two-year contract.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have appointed an interim coach for their upcoming series against New Zealand with the board attempting to severe ties with current coach Chandika Hathurusingha despite him holding a contract till the end of 2020.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, have parted ways with West Indies icon Phil Simmons.
As the search for the next head coach for the five sides hots up, we take a look at the leading men in contention.
The former Black Caps head coach has stepped down from his Kings XI Punjab role after just one season with the IPL franchise. The media in New Zealand has reported that Hesson is Bangladesh Cricket Board’s leading contender to replace Rhodes while he is also said to be in the running for the India and Pakistan jobs.
Hesson has a strong resume to back up him up and spent six years with the Black Caps between 2012 to 2018 while leading them to a runners-up finish in the 2015 World Cup. He is responsible for transforming the culture within the team alongside then skipper Brendon McCullum.
Hesson has previously coached the Kenya and Argentina national teams as well and should be a good fit for any side.
The Australian is a heavyweight in the coaching arena with nearly 15 years of experience behind him. Having taken the Sri Lanka team all the way to the final of the 2007 World Cup, Moody is no stranger to dealing with the subcontinent hierarchy.
He has extensive coaching experience on the T20 franchise circuit with stints in the IPL, Big Bash League, Pakistan Super League, Bangladesh Premier League and the Caribbean Premier League.
He was recently removed from his position with the Sunrisers Hyderabad and will be on the radar of most teams in the subcontinent.
The Sri Lanka coach’s position is currently looking untenable with the board actively looking to replace him after just a year into his role. He has already been suspended by the Sri Lanka Cricket despite holding a valid contract until the end of 2020.
With Rumesh Ratnayake appointed as Sri Lanka coach for the upcoming New Zealand series, Hathurusingha’s future looks bleak. Hathurusingha is not short of experience either and he could be in demand for other jobs which have opened in the subcontinent.
He has previously coached the UAE, Canada and had a successful three and a half-year stint with Bangladesh before taking over his current role with Sri Lanka.
The former World Cup winning all-rounder has been at the helm of the India men’s team since 2017 and is reportedly favoured to get another extension. Shastri’s numbers are good with India climbing to the top of the ICC Test rankings under his tenure while achieving a historic maiden Test series win on Australian soil.
However, while the team has been successful for the most part in bilateral ODI cricket, the loss to New Zealand in the semi-final is seen as a failure. Away Test series defeats against South Africa and England have dented his record as well.
What Shastri has going for him is his rapport with Virat Kohli and his method of working in the background while letting the skipper take most of the limelight. As long as Kohli and India are not complaining, Shastri will likely keep his job for some time to come.
The South African has been left ‘hurt and disappointed’ after not being granted an extension by Pakistan and could be contender for other sides in the subcontinent. Under Arthur, Pakistan climbed to the top of the T20 rankings while also clinching the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.
However, his record otherwise hasn’t been too flattering with ‘home’ Test defeats in the UAE against Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Pakistan have not been at their best in the ODI format since that Champions Trophy win and missed out on a semi-final spot in the recent World Cup.
He does have previous coaching experience with the South African and Australian men’s teams and will be desperate to land another international job soon.
The former Sri Lanka skipper has been on the coaching circuit over the last few years with stints as batting consultant of the England team and head coach roles at IPL side Mumbai Indians and BPL side Khulna Titans.
Does not have the best of relationships with Sri Lanka Cricket but could be a good shout for some other teams.
The former Zimbabwe stalwart had five mostly successful years with the England cricket team as head coach and has continued to work in the set up as Technical Director of Elite Coaching.
He is reportedly eyeing up T20 franchise coaching jobs but would be an ideal candidate for many sides in the subcontinent with his meticulous approach.
The former Scotland head coach is currently the only man from the Pakistan coaching setup to have survived the chop after a recent review of the team’s performance. While he is currently employed as the fielding coach, Bradburn can make the step up if needed given his previous coaching experience with Scotland and New Zealand A.
West Indies picked hard-hitting all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall for the Test series against India.
Cornwall made headlines early in his career for his size and was kept out of top level cricket due to weight and fitness issues. After starting off at more than 140 kilos, Corwall has shed the pounds and after consistent performances for the West Indies ‘A’ team and first-class cricket, the off-spinning all-rounder has been selected to play the two-Test series against the Indians that follows the ongoing ODI series.
Cornwall played four one-day and two four-day games against India ‘A’ and performed well. He failed to pick up a wicket in just two out of eight outings and hit two fifties in the red-ball games.
Cornwall has 260 wickets from 55 first-class games and was the leading bowler in the recent regional four-day tournament.
“Rahkeem has been performing consistently over a long period of time and has proven to be a match-winner, so we believe his elevation to the Test squad is merited at this time,” Robert Haynes, the head of the interim selection panel, said.
“We believe he can provide an attacking option to our bowling attack with his sharp turn and extra bounce. He can also lend a bit of depth to the batting, so we are looking forward to him coming into the squad and making a valuable contribution.”
The selectors retained most of the squad that registered a stunning 2-1 Test series win over England earlier this year in the Caribbean, apart from injured fast bowler Alzarri Joseph and left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican.
West Indies ‘A’ captain Shamarh Brooks is the only other uncapped player in the squad, apart from Cornwall.
WI Test squad: Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer Shai Hope, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach
The debate over who is the best Test batsman in the world has been reignited ever since Steve Smith made an epic return to the format after more than a year out of the international game.
The Australian’s twin tons under adverse circumstances in the first Ashes Test against England at Edgbaston to lead his team to a win has seen him once again enter the conversation.
When it comes to the best Test batsman of the ongoing era, it is the ‘Fab Four’ comprising of Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root who have dominated the discussion for several years.
“I said during the summer that Virat Kohli is the best player I have ever seen but that (Smith’s knocks) is just another level,” Australia head coach Justin Langer said after Smith’s magnificent display at Edgbaston.
There may never be a clear consensus among fans and pundits alike when it comes to picking one from the four batsmen with each of them having his own merits. We do, however, have the official yardstick of the ICC Test rankings to fall back on when it comes to making this tough decision.
Smith’s knocks of 144 and 142 at Birmingham have seen the right-hander break into the top-three of the rankings again despite spending more than a year out of the game due to his ball-tampering suspension.
That superlative display by the former Australia skipper has seen him collect as many as 46 rating points from just one game to overtake India’s Cheteshwar Pujara to the third spot. It has taken the Aussie’s points tally to 903 and he is now only 13 behind the No1 ranked Kohli who is perched at the top with 922 points.
Black Caps skipper Williamson is sandwiched in the second spot with 913 points despite the fewer number of Tests played by his side while his England counterpart Root is further behind in sixth-place with 741 points.
With Australia, India, England and New Zealand all in action in the Test format in the upcoming few weeks, it is going to be an interesting race to the No1 spot.
The Aussies and the English are currently locked in a fierce battle for the Ashes while India are all set to play a two-Test series in the West Indies later this month. New Zealand, meanwhile, will be in action in a two-Test series in Sri Lanka which begins next week.
As Smith has shown with his display at Edgbaston, a huge swing in the points can take place after just one match and that means that the top positions in the rankings could be changing hands multiple times in the near future.
Upcoming Test series
West Indies (away) – Two Tests in August
South Africa (home) – Three Tests in October
Bangladesh (home) – Two Tests in November
New Zealand (away) – Two Tests in February, 2020
Upcoming Test series
Sri Lanka (away) – Two Tests in August
Australia (Away) – Three Tests in December
India (home) – Two Tests in February, 2020
Upcoming Test series
England (away) – Four Tests remaining in August-September
Pakistan (home) – Two Tests in November
New Zealand (home) – Three Tests in December
Bangladesh (away) – Two Tests in February, 2020
Upcoming Test series
Australia (home) – Four Tests remaining in August-September
South Africa (away) – Five Tests in December-January
Sri Lanka (away) – Two Tests in March, 2020