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Waiting to know where he stands
- I’ll be happy to work with the A squad: Sandeep Patil

Calcutta: For Sandeep Patil, who left Kenya at the end of World Cup 2003 for “family reasons”, starting from scratch has been a feature of five months back in Mumbai.

“Today, after four years with the Kenyans, I’m jobless… Tomorrow, though, things could be different,” he told The Telegraph on Friday morning. The tone, however, was anything but despondent.

Patil, coach when Kenya made the World Cup semi-finals (in March) and the Team India cricket manager for some months in 1996, had a five-hour stopover at the city airport en route to Agartala for a two-day clinic.

He added: “I’m not impatient and I realise the Board is under no obligation to give me a long-term assignment. Yet, it will help if I know exactly where I stand.”

Patil, of course, was coach on the recent India A tour of England. Then, he will wear the same (A) hat during next month’s Challenger in Bangalore. After that, though, nothing is clear.

In any case, the Challenger job is more like a manager’s — there’s little that any coach can do in a five-day tournament. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Patil is very much there in the Establishment’s thoughts.

[Incidentally, his A predecessor, Ashok Malhotra, has been named the India B coach. Understandably, John Wright will be plotting the India Senior campaign.]

“Actually, I’ll be happy if I’m allowed to work with the same boys for a minimum period — say, two years. That way, there will be continuity for all concerned… The experience of working with one set for around 45 days (in England) was terrific and, at the end of that trip, I was able to offer options to the selectors,” Patil pointed out.

India A, by the way, remained unbeaten throughout.

According to him, the success of the on-trial-openers — Wasim Jaffer, for instance — was a big plus. As also the coming good of the highly-rated quicks — namely Avishkar Salvi and Irfan Pathan. Then, Parthiv Patel contributed in front of the wickets as well.

Insisting that “any assignment” would please (provided it wasn’t ad-hoc), Patil emphasised: “Even before the World Cup, when I’d decided to return, I told the Board I would be happy to serve in whatever capacity. I meant it and nobody should assume I’m only marking time for the Team India coach’s position… As I’ve said, working with the A boys will be fine…”

While he didn’t go into details, Patil (a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning XI) indicated that “discussions” were on with a multinational for starting a centre for excellence in the mega cities.

So, even if the Board takes its time, he may not strictly be without a job for too long.

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