Bangalore, June 5: Despite being excited over the call from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Graham Ford sounded somewhat concerned: Over the next few days after all, beginning tomorrow, Kent has ďimportantĒ matches.
But, then, Ford is respected for a high degree of professionalism and an excellent work ethic ó qualities which made the BCCIís seven-man special committee look at him and not, say, a Dav Whatmore while shortlisting those best suited to succeed Greg Chappell.
Englandís John Emburey has also been called to Chennai on Saturday, but the 46-year-old Ford (who coached South Africa for over two-and-a-half years after the 1999 World Cup) is the absolute favourite to wear the Team India coachís hat.
Ford, who is Kentís director of cricket, spoke to The Telegraph for at least 20 minutes this afternoon. The one-time offie even took a question on tennis, a sport he has played with some distinction.
The following are excerpts:
• On being invited by the BCCI to make a presentation
Itís an honour and a compliment.... Getting to coach India will be a big challenge, a really huge one.... Exciting too.
• On who conveyed the committeeís decision
I got a call from Ravi (Shastri) while the meeting was on last night.... Heís the one who started the process by asking whether Iíd be available...
• On whether his current employer, Kent, is going to release him
Iíve been keeping them in the loop from the time Ravi called some days ago.... Theyíve been fantastic employers.... Very supportive.... I expect theyíll continue to support me. My contract, of course, is till September 2008.
• On his travel plans
This call has come at a difficult time.... We play an important four-dayer (against Yorkshire) from tomorrow and, then, thereís an important one-day fixture (versus Hampshire) on Sunday.... Iím awaiting word from our chief executive....
[Late in the evening, Kent issued a media statement saying Ford had been allowed to interact with the BCCI.]
• On the presentation he intends making
I canít go into details.... I need to sit with the committee and understand my role and responsibilities.... Know whatís expected of me.... As I havenít got the job yet, it wonít be proper to say more.
• On the presence of real big names in the Indian team
At different times, Iíve interacted with quite a few of your players.... Iíve found them a decent bunch.
• On Team India
The players are hugely talented and theyíre exciting to watch.... The manner of their game does bring them under a lot of attention.... However, they need to improve their away-record and, if I get the job, thatís one area Iíll be looking to work on.
• On whether he will have a chat with immediate predecessor Chappell if he does get the job
Iím definitely going to talk to a lot of people.... I need to be filled in.... Need to know more about Indian cricket.... Somebody like John Wright, whom Iíve known well, will be high on the list of those Iím going to call.... I realise Iíll have to talk to former India players as well.
• On whether captain Rahul Dravid, a key backer, has spoken to him
• On his style of coaching
Generally, coaches need to adapt to the environment... For me, a coachís job is to create an environment for the players to improve.... Itís about instilling confidence....
• On being labelled a coach with no ego
My role is to stay in the background.
• On the areas where a coach can make a difference
Team spirit... Getting the bunch to pull together... Helping the players believe in themselves, something thatís very important.... Basically, a coach has to get his players to play like a team.... Itís a priority.
• On the unhappy ending of his innings with the Proteas, in early 2002
Iím not sure of the correct terminology, but the board did get rid of me.... I joined Kent in 2005.
[Apparently, Ford paid the price for taking strong exception to the late Percy Sonnís intervention on the morning of the 2001-02 Sydney Test. Thatís when Jacques Rudolph got left out in favour of non-White Justin Ontong. Sonn was then heading the board.]
• On his academy in Natal
Yes, Iíve started the Graham Ford Cricket Academy, which is located between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.... I enjoy working with cricketers.... Enjoy the challenge of trying to improve their game....
• On whether, irrespective of the sport, he has been strongly influenced by any one coach
Quite a few.... It wouldnít be fair to single out one or even a couple of them.
• Finally, on whether heís still passionate about tennis
(Laughs) Sadly, I donít get the time to follow it that closely.... I do try and make it to Wimbledon each year, though.... Be it at Big W or elsewhere, Roger Federer is my man... Heís phenomenal, isnít he'