| Graham Ford
Chennai: Kent’s director of cricket Graham Ford appears to be just hours away from being appointed the Team India coach. The Board has also invited Middlesex’s John Emburey for a presentation on Saturday, but sources insist his will be a futile trip.
Even a doosra is highly unlikely to do the trick. After what happened to Dav Whatmore, though, Ford (a former South Africa coach) is bound to keep fingers crossed.
Both contenders are expected to arrive on the same London-Chennai flight. In keeping with the Board’s sloppy functioning, till late on Friday, the time for their presentation hadn’t been finalised.
“Ford has the support of the captain (Rahul Dravid) and some of the other seniors... As they’re the ones who’ve got to work with the coach, the Board can’t ignore their wishes,” a well-placed source informed The Telegraph.
The source confirmed that the same set of players had earlier backed Whatmore, who’d been the frontrunner till the Board’s seven-man special committee met earlier this week.
The meeting, in Bangalore, saw Whatmore’s candidature being spiked.
Incidentally, the invitation to Emburey (at Sunil Gavaskar’s behest) hasn’t exactly gone down well with all the committee members.
“What’s so special about him' Why has the media not asked questions'” one fumed. He defended himself by arguing “I’m only one of seven on the committee...”
Another was rather caustic. “What’s the harm in one more candidate coming' He’ll go back, simple... Frankly, the Emburey-development has left me confused.”
The former England allrounder, it may be recalled, had turned down the Board’s invitation in the summer of 2005. That’s when Greg Chappell got the job.
It’s not that Ford has inspired Kent to great heights. He did have a very fine record with South Africa (1999-2002), but his CV shows that he’d been sacked.
That, of course, hasn’t lessened the respect which his one-time wards have for him. “He’s a 120 per cent man... He’s a behind-the-scenes guy... He’s a motivator... He has been fantastic, but I don’t know what’s expected of him in India,” remarked senior pro Shaun Pollock.
While Ford declined to speak at length (“I haven’t got the job yet”), Emburey seemed to be battling against time.
Contacted some hours before his departure, he said: “I’m having to quickly source material for the presentation... A couple of days isn’t time enough... I’m not even sure whether I’ve got to just share my thoughts or take the laptop along...”
One had to remind Emburey that Chappell scored with his presentation. Right now, however, he’s too far behind in the race — if one can call it that.
According to another source, meanwhile, there’s “very little chance” of former captain Gundappa Viswanath being made the batting coach.
“Don’t we already have two specialist coaches (Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh)' If only specialists will do the job, why have a coach'” the source, who is part of the Board, wondered.
Prasad (bowling) and Robin (fielding) are set for a longer stint. So far, their appointment had been for the tour of Bangladesh.
The desi lobby, therefore, will be mollified to an extent.
Graham Ford is known as a players’ coach. More than a few eyebrows were raised when he got the job of coaching a high-profile South African side bypassing several bigger and more familiar names along the way. But his mild-mannered personality and technical nous helped him prove the detractors wrong.
Interestingly, Ford is a former provincial tennis champion, played football for a provincial side and is a qualified rugby union referee to go with his cricketing credentials.
The Pietermaritzberg-born had an eight-year first-class career with Natal B during the 1980s, but as a coach he moved steadily through the ranks to become senior Natal coach in 1992.
He had Malcolm Marshall and Clive Rice to help him guide a crop of outstanding youngsters, including Shaun Pollock, Jonty Rhodes and Lance Klusener. His approach proved effective when in 1996-97 Natal won the domestic and first class competitions.
At the beginning of 1999, Ford was appointed assistant to Bob Woolmer in New Zealand, a role he carried through till the 1999 World Cup. After the mega event, Woolmer’s contract expired and South African board found in Ford the ideal successor.
Many believed he paid the price for internal power struggle within South African cricket. He moved to Kent as director of cricket in 2005.
He briefly moved back home to take charge of the Dolphins. In 2006, he agreed to a new contract with Kent till 2008 and has been there since.
Playing career: 7 first-class games for Natal B at 13.50.
Coached: Natal, South Africa A, South Africa (99-02), Kent.
Success: Won the domestic first-class and one-day competitions as Natal coach in 1996-97. Won 9 out of 11 series coaching South Africa.
Strengths: Man-management skills, technique and hard work.
Weaknesses: Unimpressive playing record.
Current occupation: Director of cricket at Kent.
| John Emburey
John Emburey (6 ft 2 inches) was not a big turner of the ball like Muttiah Muralidharan or Shane Warne, but the Englishman was certainly one of the leading off-spinners of his time.
He was often viewed as an economic bowler, a modern day version of Ashley Giles, but on his day he could give any batsman a run for his money.
He couldn’t keep pace with the emerging popularity of one-day cricket and subsequently retired from international cricket in 1995.
He led England in two Tests in 1988. Emburey was the only cricketer to go on both (1981-82 and 1989-90) of England’s rebel tours to South Africa, and was forgiven both times. In 64 Tests between 1978 and 1995, he took 147 wickets and scored 1713 runs. In 61 ODIs, he took 76 wickets and scored 501 runs. Emburey was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1984.
After his three-year stint with Northamptonshire as player-coach, he was appointed as Middlesex’s third coach in as many seasons in 2001. In six years he struggled to motivate a side in transition, and in 2006 the county was relegated from the top flight in both the Championship and National League. In 2007, Middlesex brought in Richard Pybus as coach with Emburey taking over as director of cricket.
Playing career: Impressive allround record in 64 Tests (2 as captain) and 61 ODIs for England.
Coached: Northamptonshire, Middlesex.
Success: Very little to show. Was sacked at Northants with one year of his contract to run. In 2006, Middlesex was relegated from both Championship and National League.
Strengths: A good theoretician of the game, popular with players.
Weakness: Low motivational skills.
Current occupation: Director of cricket at Middlesex.