Was reappointing Ramesh Powar as Indian women cricket team's coach a good idea?
This is not the first time that the 42 year old Powar has been appointed the head coach of the Indian Women's team
The Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), yesterday, recommended the name of former India all-rounder, Ramesh Powar to take over the reins of the Indian Women's Cricket Team.
This is not the first time that the 42 year old Powar has been appointed the head coach of the Indian Women's team. He had previously donned the same hat around three years back, but the stint had then ended in complete disarray in just a matter of months.
Much like the Sourav Ganguly – Greg Chappell controversy in the men's team, the fallout was big. The only difference this time was that both, the coach and the player, were Indians!
Powar was appointed as the head coach of Indian women's team back in August 2018. The Mumbaikar was supposed to coach the team to a tour of Sri Lanka, a bilateral series in West Indies followed by the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in the same country.
Everything seemed to be going well for Powar until the T20 World Cup. There were some strange decisions made during the tournament which included batting the legendary Mithali out of position and dropping her for the all-important semi-final clash against England – which India eventually lost to crash out of the tournament.
This surely raised some eyebrows during the tournament, but all the hell broke loose when Raj accused Powar of being biased after the conclusion of the tournament.
In a letter addressed to the BCCI, Raj had alleged that Powar 'humiliated her' during the World Cup and also accused COA member Diana Edulji of 'using her position against her'.
Powar, in his defence, accused Raj of being 'aloof' and 'difficult to handle'. But the damage was already done; Powar was sacked and WV Raman was appointed the coach within a matter of days.
But what is to be noted is that soon after Powar was removed from the post, both the captain and vice-captain of the Indian team at the World Cup, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana had written to the BCCI for reinstating Powar.
Now, around two and a half years later, Ramesh Powar has been reappointed as the head coach of Indian women's team following the recommendations of the CAC led by former India player Madan Lal. But the appointment is nothing short of controversial.
The Indian women had produced some extremely good results including a runner-up finish at the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup under the guidance of Raman. It was almost certain that Raman would get an extension, but it was not to be.
Though Raman had congratulated Powar on his latest appointment, reports suggest that it was almost pre-determined that Powar would be reinstated.
A report by PTI suggests that during an interview before the appointment of Powar, Raman was asked how he could take the credit for the success of the Indian team which was built by Powar, directly indicating the biasedness of the CAC.
Further there are speculations that Raman was removed due to his fallout with the Women's team selection committee's Neetu David for some bizarre selections the latter had made during the recently concluded series with South Africa, which India lost at home.
What lies ahead?
Not much has changed since Powar's exit in 2018. Mithali Raj still remains the ODI captain and Harmanpreet Kaur leads the team in T20Is; and it remains to be seen who will lead the team in Tests against England later this year.
In fact after Powar's appointment Madan Lal said, "As far as him working together with Mithali Raj is concerned, there should not be any problem. Mithali's job as a captain is to focus on her role and she should work to take the team forward."
With statements like this, the writing seems to be pretty much on the wall. The core group of the current set-up including Kaur and Mandhana appear to be in favour of having Powar at the helm, meaning Raj would have to adjust with whatever she has at her disposal.
The only thing we, as fans, could hope for is that the 2018 saga does not repeat itself during ICC Women's ODI World Cup 2022 – for not only does the current Indian squad with the experience of Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami have a shot at winning it, but the World Cup in New Zealand might also be the swansong of the veteran duo in the sport's most prestigious tournament.