The race is on for Wright~~s successor

Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:India's cricket chiefs will not rush into naming a national coach to succeed New Zealander John Wright even as contenders line up for one of the most high-profile and demanding jobs in the sport.

Australians Steve Waugh, Greg Chappell, Tom Moody, Dave Whatmore and Dean Jones have all been linked to the post left vacant after Wright voluntarily stepped down as India's first foreign coach last month after five seasons at the helm.

With India's next assignment -- a One-day series in Sri Lanka in August -- still three months away, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is in no hurry to appoint a successor to the genial Kiwi.

This despite the fact that Sri Lanka and South Africa are also seeking new coaches and could poach any of the contenders for the India job.

"We will not rush," BCCI secretary S Karunakaran Nair said on Wednesday, leaving players, fans and prospective candidates on tenterhooks.

The selection process itself could take a long time.

The BCCI will first appoint a panel of experts, comprising former Test stars, to interview the candidates. Their choice will then be debated by the Board's decision-making working committee before the coach is finalised.

Nair said no names had been short-listed and declined to say who had officially applied for the job. "Any one is open to apply," he said.

BCCI sources, however, revealed that Moody, 39, a former Australian star who is currently coaching English County Worcestershire, was the current favourite.

Waugh has not even applied, while Chappell is also eyeing the Sri Lanka job. And Whatmore has just renewed his contract with Bangladesh.

Jones, the latest to throw his hat in the ring, was not a serious contender, the Board sources insisted.

"Deanno may be keen to get the job but he will not be considered," a source said.

Jones, it seems, may be blacklisted because his name figured in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report on match-fixing in 2000.

According to illegal bookmaker Mukesh Gupta's testimony in the published report by India's leading investigative agency, Jones was introduced to him by former Indian all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar.

The CBI report said: "MK (Gupta) offered an amount of 40,000 dollars to Jones to give him information about the Australian teams strategy, morale, team composition and the probable result whenever Australia played.

"Jones promised to think about the offer.

"Jones rang up MK and told him he could not accept the offer since he suspected (former captain) Allan Border had seen them talking together in the hotel lobby and his career could be in jeopardy."

Jones, who played 54 Tests and 164 One-day Internationals for Australia from 1984-1994, is best known in India for a magnificent 210 he made despite suffering from dehydration during the tied Test in Chennai in September, 1986.

Chappell, a former Australian captain who was considered too expensive five years ago when the BCCI selected Wright, reportedly enjoys the backing of Indian captain Sourav Ganguly.

But sources say the BCCI is wary of Chappell asking for a lot of money and additional powers like team selection that were denied to Wright.

Moody may have played only eight Tests for Australia but contributed with both bat and ball to Australia's World Cup triumphs in 1987 and 1999 and is highly regarded as a shrewd cricketing brain.

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