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Fordie slips into Chappell’s shoes
- Coach crown goes to South African, three factors work in his favour

Chennai, June 9: John Emburey struggled to get past the revolving door of the Taj Connemara on the way to the Park Sheraton, venue of this evening’s selection meeting to choose the Team India coach.

Clearly, the former England all-rounder didn’t do much better during his presentation before the seven-member special committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), chaired by president Sharad Pawar.

After almost two hours of deliberations, which included nearly 30-minute presentations from each of the two blazer-and-tie-attired candidates, BCCI spokesman N. Srinivasan announced that South African Graham Ford would be Greg Chappell’s successor.

While struggling to get out, Emburey had quipped, “I’ll be giving a tough fight.… That’s a promise.…”

It’s not clear to what extent Emburey ran Ford close, if at all, but The Telegraph’s sources on the committee explained that three factors worked to the 46-year-old’s advantage.

First, that he’d handled a national team — South Africa, from mid-1999 to early 2002. Then, he’d worked with big names like the late Hansie Cronje, Allan Donald, Gary Kirsten, Shaun Pollock and Jonty Rhodes. Also, South Africa won a handsome majority of the Test series during his tenure.

What was left unsaid is that captain Rahul Dravid and at least some of the seniors had indicated their preference for Ford through Ravi Shastri, one of three former captains on the committee.

As the players have to work with the coach, Pawar and Co. couldn’t overlook that. Indeed, it didn’t matter that Ford hasn’t played international cricket.

Till something emerges to the contrary, it’s assumed that the decision was reached unanimously.

Ford wasn’t available for a reaction after his appointment (which will be ratified by the BCCI’s working committee on Tuesday), but while setting out for the meeting, he’d said: “I wouldn’t say I’ve got butterflies in the stomach.… But, in the past few days, too many things have happened too soon….”

Both candidates not only arrived on the same flight from London, early today, but went for the presentation in the same vehicle — a Qualis.

Emburey, one understands, was the first to make the presentation. It was a Power Point one. Ford followed, but he chose to speak of his vision instead of using the laptop.

The meeting began 25 minutes late as Sunil Gavaskar got delayed on the way from Goa. “Yesterday was my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday and, this morning, there was a puja.… I couldn’t have come earlier.”

Emburey’s name had been suggested by Gavaskar, during Monday’s inconclusive meeting in Bangalore, perhaps as a counter of sorts to Shastri proposing Ford.

“Fordie doesn’t know what he’s letting himself in for!” was senior South African pro Mark Boucher’s initial reaction. Grinning, he quickly added: “I was joking.... Graham’s a hands-on guy who won’t be competing for the headlines.… He’s there for the players and I’m sure your team will benefit….”

As expected, Ford has been offered a one-year contract. The option of a two-year extension will be there. He has asked for time to have a dialogue with his current employers, Kent. At the moment, then, one isn’t sure when exactly he comes on board.

Ford’s contract with the county is till September 2008. Incidentally, India’s first coach from overseas, John Wright, had also been with Kent when he got the job in November 2000.

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