Former India A and U-19 fielding coach Abhay Sharma has been appointed as the head coach of the Delhi cricket team ahead of the domestic season beginning October 11.
Former India spinner and selector Sarandeep Singh was another strong contender for the job but Rohan Jaitly led DDCA has gone ahead with Sharma, who has more coaching experience. The Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Nikhil Chopra, Gursharan Singh and Reema Malhotra had recommended Sharma’s name to the president. Former India selector Gagan Khoda has been appointed chief selector of the senior team, while former India pacer Pankaj Singh has been appointed head coach of U-25 side. Khoda, who played two ODIs for India, hails from Rajasthan.
Anil Bhardwaj and Mayank Sidana (former Punjab Ranji cricketer) are the other new faces in the senior selection panel. Former Rajasthan Royals fielding coach Dishant Yagnik has been given charge of the senior women’s team while India pacer Arshdeep Singh’s childhood coach Jaswant Rai will coach the men’s U-19 unit. Rai represented Himachal Pradesh in his playing days. “Abhay Sharma has been chosen as the head coach of the senior team,” said a DDCA source. Sharma has worked extensively with India A, India U-19 and most recently the national women’s team.
The 53-year-old, who played 89 first-class games representing Delhi, Railways and Rajasthan, was also the fielding coach of the Indian team which travelled to Zimbabwe in 2016.
He also travelled with the Indian team on the tour of USA and the West Indies in the same year. With Delhi scheduled to open their Syed Mushtaq Ali campaign against Manipur, Sharma has less than two weeks to work with the squad which is yet to be announced. A lot of dilly dallying took place before the DDCA zeroed in on Sharma. “It should have happened at least two weeks ago. But the good thing is most of coaching staff which has been recruited has come from outside Delhi,” said another DDCA source.
Delhi had a forgettable last season when they failed to qualify for the knock outs of all three competitions Mushtaq Ali, Vijay Hazare and Ranji Trophy. The team was coached by Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Raj Kumar Sharma last season and captained by Pradeep Sangwan