A day after he confirmed that he had re-applied for the position of chief coach of the Indian women’s team, Ramesh Powar has said that he hasn’t “closed any communication channels” with senior player Mithali Raj. Powar’s contract wasn’t extended after the World T20 in West Indies after a public falling out with Mithali, who is also captain of the ODI team. In the aftermath of her exclusion from the playing XI for the semifinal against England, the duo made scathing observations about each other in separate communications with the BCCI, that were leaked into the public domain.Speaking exclusively to CricketNext though, Powar sought to downplay the issue.
“I haven’t closed any communication channels with Mithali,” he said. “For that matter, I am on speaking terms with all members of the team, including Ekta (Bisht), Mansi (Joshi) or even the youngest member of the side Jemimah (Rodrigues). There is absolutely no bad blood for Mithali from my side.

“We made a lot of progress with this team ever since I took over. Winning series of Australia A, Australia, topping the group in women’s World T20 and then reaching the semifinals for the first time in eight years — those are results to be proud of.”

Since new applications were sought for the role, several candidates including Herschelle Gibbs, Owais Shah, Manoj Prabhakar and Dav Whatmore have applied for the role while Gary Kirsten and Mike Hesson have also expressed their interest. The issue has become a point of contention within the Committee of Administrators (CoA), with Chairman Vinod Rai keen on a “more experienced” candidate to ensure harmony within the team, while member Diana Edulji staunchly in favour of Powar continuing in his role, at least till the tour of New Zealand in January.

Powar insists that the dispute within the CoA on the issue has no bearing on his decision to seek the job again.

“I can’t keep worrying about CoA politics,” he said. “I am aware that one member is backing me while the other is not. I can only make an effort to serve the Indian team and it was my duty to apply after Smriti (Mandhana) and Harmanpreet (Singh) backed me openly as well as in the meeting with Mr Rai.”

Despite Edulji’s protests, Rai forced the BCCI’s hand to appoint an ad-hoc committee featuring Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy to conduct the interviews for next women’s coach. In an e-mail to Edulji, he says, “What I cannot understand is why some members of the team, or any other person advising them, is against having an internationally-acclaimed coach. Don’t we seek to upgrade the team from the plateau that they keep hitting in international games?”

From all indications, Rai is likely to take the final call on who becomes the next women’s coach. BCCI General Manager (cricket operations) Saba Karim, who is in-charge of women’s cricket, has asked the ad-hoc committee to meet in Mumbai on November 19 for conducting the interviews the next day.

“We have got no list of candidates as yet and Saba has just informed us to meet in Mumbai on the 19th,” ad-hoc committee member Rangaswamy told CricketNext. “I don’t see any issue with paucity of time, because combined cricketing experience of this committee is over 120 years. We can vet the candidates on the 19th and prepare ourselves for the interview the next day.”

First Published: December 12, 2018, 1:14 PM IST