In an attempt to shatter stereotypes in a male-dominated field, former chief selector Hemlata Kala, along with four others, have applied to become the Indian women’s cricket team head coach. The other women candidates include Mamatha Maben, Jaya Sharma, Suman Sharma and Nooshin Al Khadeer; they have all applied for a position that has been held by men since 2017.
Among the men, incumbent WV Raman has reapplied, after his term ended in March. Former coaches of the team, Ramesh Powar and Tushar Arothe are also the other candidates. They were forced to leave, after developing differences with senior players.
The final selection will be made by the Madan Lal-led Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC). The women’s selection committee, headed by Neetu David, is in favour of a female head coach for the national team.
"We are yet to hear from the BCCI on the interview date of candidates. When we get down to that, we will pick the best person for the job whether male or female," Lal told the media.
The last female head coach was Purnima Rau, who was unceremoniously shown the exit door in April 2017, and replaced by Arothe who took the team to the ODI World Cup final later that year. Her next stint was senior women’s team coach for Sikkim.
After Arothe came Powar, who was then asked to leave post a controversy, when Indian women’s team captain Mithali Raj accused him of trying to destroy her career. Raman took over from Powar and helped the team reach the T20 World Cup final in 2020.
Credible women candidates
Kala was the chief of the selection committee, which discovered talented cricketers like Shaifali Verma. She also recently worked with the Uttar Pradesh senior team as head coach.
"I have been tracking women's cricket in the country since I was a cricketer. Coaching the Railways team, and now UP, has helped me learn a lot more about the game. I also gained a lot of knowledge during my tenure as selector, and therefore I feel ready to step into the role of the head coach," says Kala.
On the other hand, Suman has in the past worked as an assistant coach with the Indian team. She was also involved with the Women's T20 Challenge, along with Maben, who has also trained Bangladesh and China.
Nooshin, too, has coached several teams.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)