The race for the Indian cricket coach continues to throw up surprises with former South African batsman Gary Kirsten, on Tuesday, emerging as a front-runner for the high-profile job.
The former South African opener was interviewed in the capital by the Coach Selection Committee -- comprising former captains Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and S Venkataraghavan, BCCI Joint Secretary M P Pandove, Treasurer N Srinivasan and secretary Niranjan Shah.
"Kirsten was interviewed by the committee yesterday in Delhi. The BCCI will make a formal announcement about the new coach in a week's time," Board vice president Rajiv Shukla said on Tuesday.
"BCCI President Sharad Pawar had said that the coach will be decided in about 10 days and in keeping with his wish, the coach selection panel has expedited the process. The Indian Team will definitely have a coach before it embarks on the tour of Australia next month," he assured.
Kirsten is now almost certain to get the post which has been lying vacant ever since Greg Chappell resigned following India's World Cup debacle in West Indies in March.
Kirsten's interview was kept a closely guarded secret unlike the media frenzy that had greeted former applicants Graham Ford and John Embuery earlier this year. Ford had backed out of taking over the job after being interviewed.
A highly-placed BCCI source said Kirsten's meeting with the coach selection panel was kept under wraps as the board did not want a repeat of the Ford-experience.
"Kirsten is almost certain to get the job but the cricket board wants to be careful with all the terms an conditions before making a formal announcement," the source said.
"The Graham Ford experience has made the BCCI a little more cautious this time and it does not want to make an announcement before all the nitty-gritties are worked out."
He said the BCCI was also interested in former Australian coach John Buchanan.
"The coach committee was also in touch with Buchanan but since Kirsten has already been called for the interview, it appears that he would ultimately get the post," he pointed out.
Kirsten, who turned 40 on November 23, was the mainstay of the South African line-up with an average of over 40 in both forms of the game.
He bid adieu to his international ODI career after South Africa's heart-breaking exit from the 2003 World Cup.
A year later, Kirsten decided to give up Test cricket as well. And The left-hander, if appointed, will come to India with little experience in coaching.
The Indians has been without a coach since Chappell's controversial exit and Ravi Shastri, Chandu Borde and Lalchand Rajput have been stop-gap arrangement as cricket managers.
While Shastri accompanied the team to the tour of Bangladesh, Borde took over for the 80-day tour of the UK.
Rajput was with the team for the Twenty20 World in South Africa and was later retained for the ODI series against Australia and the ongoing series against Pakistan.
There has been intense speculation on Chappell's likely successors. The job was initially expected to go to ex-Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore before South African Graham Ford entered the picture.
After he decided to opt out at the eleventh hour, the Cricket Board, in a bid to put an end all the speculations, formally invited applicants for the post.
It went on to receive 20-22 applications for the high-pressure job.
Among those who applied to succeed Chappell were former stumper and Maharashtra coach Chandrakant Pandit, former head of the Queensland Academy of Excellence Richard Done, Leicestershire coach Tim Boon, former Australia and South Africa international Kepler Wessels, Queensland coach Terry Oliver, Canterbury coach Dave Nosworthy and former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe.