India search for elusive coach after Ford snub

Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Red-faced Indian cricket officials resumed a desperate hunt for a national coach on Tuesday after first-choice South African Graham Ford turned down the high-profile job.

With Rahul Dravid's men due to embark on a four-month foreign tour next week, time is running out to find a successor to Greg Chappell who quit in April after India's first round exit from the World Cup.

India may once again be forced to settle for an interim coach, as they did for last month's tour of Bangladesh where former captain-turned-commentator Ravi Shastri managed the side.

The popular Shastri declined to continue, citing media commitments, leaving the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to look elsewhere.

The BCCI's decision-making working committee meets here later on Tuesday to ensure the egg on its face does not stick after Ford's dramatic refusal to take up the 300,000-dollar a year job.

Ford, a former South African coach, said on Monday he would continue as director of cricket with English county Kent after being offered the India job on Saturday in Chennai.

Ford's snub has shaken the BCCI, a rich and powerful player on the world stage with ambitions of making its current president Sharad Pawar the International Cricket Council chief in 2008.

"We announced Ford's selection on Saturday because he told us he will let us know by Monday when he can join," said BCCI's influential treasurer N. Srinivasan.

"But now he says he can't commit to us at all. We will take up the matter at the working committee."

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, who was on the seven-member coach selection panel that picked Ford, admitted: "We are back to square one and that is a fact of life."

The BCCI are unlikely to go back to former England spinner and current Middlesex director John Emburey, who was also interviewed on Saturday and rejected.

The panel, headed by Pawar and also including Shastri and another ex-captain Srinivas Venkataraghavan, had earlier spurned former Sri Lanka and Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore, the initial frontrunner for the job.

The BCCI may now opt for an Indian to run the side on a temporary basis alongside bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh.

India are due to play three one-dayers against South Africa and one-off games against Ireland and Pakistan in Belfast and Glasgow between June 23 and July 3 before starting a full tour of England in mid-July.

The tour ends on September 8 and the team will head straight for the inaugural Twenty20 world championships which begins in South Africa three days later.

"Ford's refusal has put us in an awkward position," a senior BCCI official told AFP. "We must find someone fast... even a temporary appointment if we can't get a permanent coach so quickly."


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