Whatmore leads the pack for India job

Published: Monday, June 4, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Dav Whatmore remains the leading contender to take over as India's next cricket coach but is not a certainty for the job as officials prepare to make their choice on Monday night.

The former Sri Lanka and Bangladesh coach is regarded as the frontrunner to succeed Greg Chappell, who quit after India's first-round exit from the World Cup.

Whatmore, 53, publicly expressed his interest in coaching Rahul Dravid's men even before he ended his four-year tenure with Bangladesh a week ago.

But Whatmore's appointment is not a foregone conclusion as a seven-man selection panel from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) prepares to meet over dinner on Monday in the southern city of Bangalore.

"Whatmore stands a very good chance to become coach but I won't say it is certain," said Niranjan Shah, the BCCI's secretary. "It all depends on what transpires at the meeting."

Sharad Pawar, the board's president, heads the panel, which also includes three former captains in Sunil Gavaskar, Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Ravi Shastri.

The panel's recommendation will have to be approved by the BCCI's working committee on June 12.

A member of the panel, who did not want to be identified, told AFP that Whatmore's chances were "60-40."

"We will have an open mind at the meeting and do what we think is best for Indian cricket," he said. "I can't say now if someone is sure to get the job."

Graham Ford, the former South African coach who is now working with English county team Kent, is the other foreigner regarded as a possible candidate.

India have had a foreign coach since 2000 with New Zealander John Wright serving until 2005 before Chappell, the former Australian captain, took over for a two-year period.

Former Indian captain Kapil Dev has strongly favoured a home-grown coach, saying "only an Indian best understood the psyche of an Indian cricketer."

Kapil, who led India to its lone World Cup success in 1983, scoffed at reports that senior players wanted Whatmore or any other foreigner as their coach.

"Why should players decide who their coach should be? They have never worked with Whatmore, so how do they know he is so good?" he asked.

Gavaskar, now a high-profile media figure, has criticised Whatmore's tactical acumen in recent newspaper columns. But he denied that he was against the appointment of a foreigner.

"If I was anti-foreigner, then how did Greg Chappell become coach of India since it was a unanimous decision," Gavaskar told the Mumbai-based Mid-Day newspaper.

Gavaskar, Venkataraghavan and Shastri were also part of the panel that selected Chappell as coach in April 2005.

Former Indian Test stars Mohinder Amarnath, Gundappa Viswanath, Sandeep Patil, Aunshuman Gaekwad and Venkataraghavan have been named in media reports as the local candidates.

All four Asian Test teams are looking for a new coach.

While Chappell quit India after the World Cup, Pakistan's Bob Woolmer died during the tournament, Sri Lanka's Tom Moody opted to return home to coach Western Australia and Whatmore left Bangladesh.


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