| India calling: Whatmore in Chittagong on Sunday. (AP)
May 20: The 1996 World Cup-winning coach, Dav Whatmore, has formally offered himself as a candidate to succeed compatriot Greg Chappell, who was Team India’s coach till last month.
“I’m feeling good... It’s nice to speak to people who’re directly involved in whatever is being done,” he told The Telegraph in the morning after a “five-minute” meeting with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary, Niranjan Shah, and chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty.
Their interaction took place at the Peninsula Hotel in Chittagong.
That Whatmore should meet the duo was suggested to him by Team India’s interim cricket manager Ravi Shastri, who is on the seven-member special committee empowered to select Chappell’s full-time successor.
Whatmore added: “Of course, it’s not that something is off my chest, but I’ve put speculation to rest.... I’m not taking anything for granted, but my plans after May 29 (scheduled last day of the ongoing Test series) will be as flexible as possible....”
Asked if he’d handed over a copy of his CV, Whatmore laughed: “No... I don’t think that’s really going to be necessary.... Generally, it’s in my interest not to talk a lot.... I reckon I must keep a low profile.”
According to Shetty, neither he nor Shah made any commitment. “We merely said that the special committee meets in Bangalore on June 4 and his availability would be placed before it.”
Some within the BCCI have been lobbying for New Zealander John Wright, who was the coach for four-and-a-half years from November 2000, but Whatmore is seen as the frontrunner.
Just as in the lead-up to Chappell getting the job (May 2005), some have been calling for the appointment of a desi coach. Their argument: The videshis didn’t exactly work wonders. Chappell, in fact, left behind a “fractured” and “demoralised” dressing room.
Headed by BCCI president Sharad Pawar, the special committee has seats for three former captains — Srinivas Venkatraghavan, Sunil Gavaskar and Shastri — and three officials (Shah, joint secretary Mohinder Pandove and treasurer N. Srinivasan).
Pawar, too, was in Chittagong yesterday. However, he didn’t interact with Whatmore as that could have offended his hosts, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).
The BCCI officials returned home this afternoon.
Unusually, till late in the evening, the BCB wasn’t aware of Whatmore’s meeting with Shah and Shetty.
“I’m hearing about it from you.... Our stand has been that Dav will be professional enough not to engage in discussions with any future employer while contracted to the BCB,” pointed out dapper chief executive Mahmudur Rahman.
It’s to be seen whether hardliners, who seem to be everywhere, make an issue of those five minutes.
Whatmore’s four-year contract with the BCB ended with the World Cup, but he agreed to stay on till the end of Team India’s tour. His successor hasn’t yet been identified.
Till the other day, this extension had been agreed upon “verbally”.