June 11: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), headed by politician Sharad Pawar, has egg on its face.
Less than 48 hours after accepting the offer to coach Team India, South African Graham Ford withdrew his “candidature” via a terse email to treasurer N. Srinivasan.
It read: “There’s no way I can take up the job at such short notice… I’m withdrawing my candidature….”
The email may have been brief, but for the BCCI, it had the crushing impact of a ton of bricks.
The desi lobby, however, has reason to rejoice.
Now, instead of ratifying Ford’s appointment, tomorrow’s working committee meeting in New Delhi will look at “options”.
With Rahul Dravid’s men leaving for Ireland and England on June 20, there’s no time for fresh presentations.
Not that the last exercise had been handled professionally, befitting the stature of a cash-rich body hoping to give the International Cricket Council its next president.
With Ravi Shastri, the interim cricket manager in Bangladesh, firm on not having a second innings, Pawar and Co. can request either Srinivas Venkatraghavan (among other things, a former captain) or Chetan Chauhan to stand in.
If not as coach, then the administrative manager with dual responsibility.
In Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh, we already have specialist coaches for bowling and fielding.
Shastri, by the way, had been the one to start a dialogue with Ford. He did so as a member of the seven-man committee empowered to select Greg Chappell’s successor.
Apparently, Sunil Gavaskar (another committee member) and Shastri had a hand in eliminating one- time frontrunner Dav Whatmore. The Australian wasn’t even invited to make a presentation.
That option, on the face of it, is out.
Then, on Saturday, John Emburey was found unfit for arguably cricket’s most coveted job.
Surely, the Englishman can’t now become the most suitable candidate.
Therefore, he’s no option either.
“The next 24 hours are difficult,” confessed a senior BCCI official.
It’s intriguing why Ford, a former South Africa coach who has been Kent’s director of cricket from 2005, didn’t turn down the offer in Chennai itself.
“We are back to square one, that is a fact of life,” Gavaskar told the media in Mumbai. He’d proposed Emburey’s name.
An embarrassed Srinivasan explained: “The text of our announcement on Saturday had been shown to Ford…. It was read out with his concurrence…. What remained to be settled, then, was his date of joining. Nothing more….”
According to The Telegraph’s sources, three factors probably compelled Ford to have a rethink: pressure from his Durban-based family, particularly wife Elizabeth (who has cancer), unhappiness over the contract being for no more than one year (with provision for a two-year extension) and intense pressure from his employers, with whom he’s contracted till September 2008.
John Wright had also been with Kent when he got the India offer, but former BCCI president Raj Singh Dungarpur used his contacts to ensure an amicable transfer.
Incidentally, Ford and Emburey travelled back together as well, but the former gave no indication that he would say ‘no’.
“We did interact, though not exactly on the flight to London, but Graham didn’t suggest he would be turning down the offer… I’m a bit surprised,” Emburey said, when contacted on his cellphone.
He added: “I’m hearing of possible reasons, but it’s a fact that the Indian cricketers have an intense calendar… There’s lots of cricket…”
So, did Ford chicken out'