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BCCI’s mysterious, murky ways
by Gulu Ezekiel
Jun 10, 2007
“How many men does it take to replace a light bulb?” goes the opening line of a popular joke, with the answer having numerous variants.

So how many men did it take to choose India’s new coach, and how long did it take? The answer to the second question is two and a half months since India’s shock exit from the World Cup and coach Greg Chappell closing his stormy innings with the team.

The answer to the first has a few variants to it. On the face of it, there was a seven-member (!) panel chosen by the BCCI including three former captains who would take the final decision. However, behind the scenes the hands of the ‘seniors’ of the cricket team could be seen too, particularly captain Rahul Dravid playing an unusually assertive role in pushing for the case of South African Graham Ford, coach of Kent where Dravid had a brief stint a few years ago. Now that Ford has got the nod, his choice has to be ratified by the BCCI’s ‘working committee’ in New Delhi on Tuesday, apparently a formality. But wait, there is more. How about the Kent county committee, understandably miffed that their coach has been snatched from under their noses mid-season? Will they acquiesce tamely, or more likely, demand a hefty sum from the Board as compensation? And all this long-drawn out drama with the tour to England beginning later this month!

For weeks after the World Cup debacle, the smart money was on Bangladesh’s (now former) coach Dav Whatmore. In fact the whispers grew so strong that in the middle of their Cup campaign, the Bangladesh cricket board were forced to censure their incumbent and demand he concentrate on the job at hand. In typical BCCI cloak-and-dagger style, things got murkier and murkier during India’s tour of Bangladesh with furtive “five minute meetings” between Whatmore and numerous mysterious Indian officials. The decision was to be made last week at Bangalore. But after many hours behind closed doors, the word was out that Whatmore was no longer in contention. And the final decision was put off till Saturday night at Chennai.

Ford’s name had cropped up days before that meeting but an air of intrigue surrounded the “unnamed foreigner” whose name was also suddenly thrown in the ring. Initial speculation was that it was former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga. Then it emerged the mysterious foreigner was former England off spinner (and captain in two Tests), John Emburey whose stint as coach of two counties can only be described as disastrous. More speculation swirled around—was Emburey’s name put forward by the BCCI panel merely so that they could prove they had not caved in to that dread force, “player power?” In any event, it was rather comical to see Ford and Emburey fly in together from London, stay at the same hotel and present their cases before the panel in Chennai. Yes, Ford has got the nod. But it appears there will be even more drama to follow. The BCCI, it seems, just never learns.

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