Patel one of two applicants for NZ coach

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2001, 20:36 [IST]
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Sydney: Former New Zealand Test cricketer Dipak Patel is one of the only two applicants for the position of the New Zealand team coach, even as current Indian coach John Wright declined to take up the post. Former New Zealand Test player John Wright was considered a natural choice for this job, but he has refused to abdicate his position as the coach of the Indian national side which is basking in glory of an astounding Test series win over the Australians. With Denis Aberhart as the other candidate, New Zealand cricket chief executive Martin Snedden cannot be said to be flush with expressions of interest. The poor response to an advertisement for the New Zealand cricket coach could be attributed to the fact that the New Zealand team is going through a roller-coaster ride these days. With only three days left before he has to declare the selection of the New Zealand coach, Snedden has said it was traditional for job seekers to leave their applications to the last minute and he believed this was the case. The cut-off date is May 20, with a shortlist to be drawn up by May 31 and a recommendation to the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) Board on June 29. Given his extensive international experience, Kenya-born Patel, who played in 37 Tests and 75 One-day Internationals for New Zealand, is a favorite to bag the position. Beside experience with the Kiwi cricket teams, he also has vast experience of competitive English County championships. Born in Nairobi in 1958, Patel did not come to New Zealand to begin with. England was his first port of call in 1968. He made his debut for Worcestershire in 1976 as an 18-year-old. He would have stayed in England had he been considered seriously for a Test spot. But Geoff Miller usurped his position as a spinning all-rounder and the emergence of Ian Botham is said to have sealed all the entry points to the English Test team. He eventually moved to New Zealand to qualify in 1986. The qualification period of four years was reduced due to Patel's six English winters in New Zealand. Patel, the Central District's (CD) coach, has few things beside his extensive experience, which can tilt the decision in his favor. He has the reputation of being one of the more easily approachable coaches. He has also earned his players' kudos for listening to them and also for standing by his decisions. Some New Zealand cricket observers believe the absence of international cricketers' application for the position of the coach of the Black Caps (The national team) can also be attributed to another factor. Team captain Stephen Fleming's clear indication that the new coach would be playing a secondary role in the day-to-day team management and training affairs. Snedden doubts that overseas candidates had been put off by the requirement of playing second fiddle to Fleming. He has also made clear that New Zealand Board would prefer a local candidate for the job. This strengthens Dipak Patel's case even further.

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