New Delhi: The race to probably the most sought-after job in world cricket hots up as the names of Zimbabwean Duncan Fletcher and New Zealander Stephen Fleming have come up to give frontrunner Andy Flower a close fight to be Team India's next coach.
Fletcher, who was instrumental in England breaking an 18-year hiatus to win the Ashes 2-1 in 2005, has popped up on BCCI's radar after the British media on Monday reported Flower to be on the Indian board's shortlist.
Now a British resident, Fletcher has also worked as a consultant for Hampshire as well as the South Africa.
Besides the two Zimbabweans, Fleming's well-known astute tactical abilities have also caught BCCI's fancy, especially after he coached IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings to win the IPL and Champions Trophy titles in 2010.
But the longest-serving former Kiwi skipper has the thinnest of experiences as coach in comparison to Fletcher and Flower who have had successful stints with international sides. Moreover, the Kiwi has expressed his reluctance to the job in the past.
However, the BCCI doesn't seem to have ruled out Fleming altogether and is holding its cards before sending interview invites to the final applicants.
Earlier on Monday, reports in the British media suggested that a worried ECB has offered the current Team Director Flower a new three-year deal after news was abuzz the BCCI may offer Flower the post left vacant by Gary Kirsten following India's World Cup triumph.
"Andy Flower has been offered a new three-year contract as the England and Wales Cricket Board attempts to head off any moves for their highly rated coach from India," the report in the Daily Telegraph said.
"Telegraph Sport understands Flower is due to meet Hugh Morris, the managing director of the England team, at the end of the month to discuss his long-term future and the direction of the England set-up. It is thought that Flower is on a rolling staff contract which offers the same protection rights as any other full-time employee."
Flower, who has been on a holiday after England were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the ODI World Cup, has been non-committal about his future.
After the Ashes series, Flower had said that "personally I don't look much further forward than a few months".
(With agency inputs)