Wasim Jaffer. (TOI Photo)
MUMBAI: In an interesting development, Mumbai stalwarts and former teammates Wasim Jaffer, an ex-India opener and Amol Muzumdar, who have plotted many a Ranji Trophy title victories together in the same dressing room and shared many memorable partnerships, will now vie for the post of head coach of the Mumbai senior team for the forthcoming season.
In a rather star-studded field, Jaffer and Muzumdar’s ex-teammate and another domestic ‘giant’ former India leg-spinner Sairaj Bahutule, India’s 1983 World Cup hero Balwinder Singh Sandhu and ex-Mumbai wicketkeeper Sulakshan Kulkarni, under whom Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy in the 2012-13 season, are also amongst the nine applicants for the job.
“The following candidates have applied for the post of coach of Mumbai senior men’s team: Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Wasim Jaffer, Sairaj Bahutule, Amol Muzumdar, Sulakshan Kulkarni, Pradeep Sunderam, Nandan Phadnis, Umesh Patwal, Vinod Raghvan. The Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC) has decided to conduct their interviews this week,” Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) secretary Sanjay Naik told TOI on Monday.
The MCA’s CIC is headed by former India batsman and national selector Jatin Paranjape, and includes ex-India players Vinod Kambli and Nilesh Kulkarni.
Jaffer, a batting coach with Punjab Kings in the IPL, coached Uttarakhand last season in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, before a fallout with Cricket Association of Uttarakhand (CAU) secretary Mahim Verma over selection issues forced him to quit his position. Jaffer objected Verma’s interference in selection, while the CAU accused him of promoting Muslim players in the team and bringing maulvis to the dressim room of the side for religious prayers. Following the allegations, Jaffer received tremendous support from many cricketers, including India leg spin great Anil Kumble.
The 43-year-old played 31 Tests, in which he scored 1944 firstname.lastname@example.org, with five hundreds and 11 fifties, and two ODIs. In a glorious, epic first-class career for Mumbai and then Vidarbha, the former Mumbai captain played 260 games, in which he scored 19,410, slamming 57 hundreds and 91 fifties. He is the highest run-scorer in the history of the Ranji Trophy, with Muzumdar, incidentally, being the second highest. Wasim was a member of the Mumbai team from 1996-1997 to 2012-2013, a side that won eight Ranji championships, and twice he led them to the title.
The 64-year-old Sandhu played eight Tests and 22 ODIs, but is most famous for dislodging West Indies opener great Gordon Greenidge’s off-stump to give India a perfect start in the 1983 World Cup final. Sandhu has coached Mumbai (to the Ranji Trophy title in the 1996-97 season) and Madhya Pradesh in the past.
TOI had reported on May 18 that with Ramesh Powar, who coached the Mumbai team to the Vijay Hazare Trophy title last season, having been appointed as the coach of the India women’s team, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has quickly swung into action to find a new coach.
The MCA floated the ad on May 17, and the deadline for applying for the post expired on Monday at 5 pm on Monday. To be a coach for the Mumbai senior team, one should have played a minimum of 50 first-class matches, be a National Cricket Academy (NCA) certified coach, should have the experience of coaching a state team/IPL franchisee/NCA, and should be residing in Mumbai.
Muzumdar, who lost out narrowly to Powar the last time, though is still a frontrunner to bag the job this time. A former Mumbai Ranji-winning captain, Muzumdar scored a record 11,167 runs in 171 first-class games @48.13, with 30 hundreds and 60 fifties to boot. Post retirement, he was a batting coach with the NCA, the Rajasthan Royals and the visiting South African team to India in 2019, besides being a TV commentator in domestic cricket.
Bahutule too has a strong case. Besides featuring in two Tests and eight ODIs, he played 188 first-class games, in which he took 630 email@example.com, and scored 6176 firstname.lastname@example.org. Post his retirement, he coached Vidarbha, Kerala, Bengal (for four years) and was Gujarat’s coach for the past two seasons. He is also the RR spin bowling coach, and in 2017, worked with Australia’s young spinners at Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Brisbane.
Under Kulkarni, Mumbai reached the semifinals in 2011-12 and the quarters in the 2013-14 season, besides winning the Ranji Trophy once. He has coached Vidarbha and Chhatisgarh too. The 54-year-old was the coach of India’s specially-abled cricket team which won the inaugural T20 Physical Disability World Cricket Series in 2019.