The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dav’s yes to NCA
- Ravi wants it to become a real finishing school, says Aussie

Calcutta: The 1996 World Cup-winning coach, Dav Whatmore, has accepted the Board’s offer to join the Bangalore-located National Cricket Academy (NCA) as its first director of operations.

The offer had been made through former India captain and cricket manager Ravi Shastri who, last week, got appointed as the NCA chairman.

Shastri is the talismanic Kapil Dev’s full-time successor. The 1983 World Cup-winning captain got sacked in August for his involvement with the Indian Cricket League.

“I’ve agreed, but the announcement should come from the Board… I don’t wish to break protocol,” Whatmore told The Telegraph from Bittern, some 65 km from Melbourne.

Speaking on Saturday evening, Whatmore added: “The contract is for three years and I’ll be in Bangalore by the end of this month.”

Given that the Board’s Team India coach-appointing committee didn’t even call him for an interview four months ago, did he think hard before accepting the offer for an entirely different position'

“Not really… It didn’t take me long to realise there’s value in being associated with the NCA… Plus, I can give something… I know Ravi’s on the coach-appointing committee, but I didn’t bring up what happened in June,” Whatmore replied.

The 53-year-old Australian had thrown his hat in the ring after compatriot Greg Chappell decided not to seek an extension of his contract. Incidentally, the hunt for Chappell’s successor continues.

It’s largely because Sharad Pawar and Co. gave Whatmore the cold shoulder that the Pakistan Cricket Board (wary of being seen as hiring an India reject) also left him high and dry.

That after having wooed Whatmore for the coach’s post, which fell vacant following Bob Woolmer’s mysterious death during the World Cup.

Whatmore, though, didn’t wish to look back.

“I’d rather talk of the NCA… I’m excited and Ravi wants it to become a real finishing school… In fact, I’d like players from overseas too to graduate from there,” he said.

Established in 2000, the NCA only functions for a few months every year, but Whatmore pointed out that’s going to change.

Just as well.

“The specifics have to be worked out, but I expect the NCA to be operational for 8-10 months… Eventually, one would like Indian coaches to impart all the training but, if needed, one may call specialists from overseas… However, one doesn’t have to cross that bridge right now.”

Whatmore, who has coached Sri Lanka (twice) and Bangladesh, remarked that he was “looking forward” to working with Shastri. “I’ve known Ravi for a number of years… We understand each other well and I’m looking forward to a formal association with him…”

Asked if he’d followed India’s World Twenty20 campaign, Whatmore replied: “With a lot of interest, yes, very closely… The young team, with such limited exposure to Twenty20, performed brilliantly.”

Having once worn the Australia colours, Whatmore is keeping track of the ongoing ODIs between India and Ricky Ponting’s men as well.

“The Indians are down 0-2, but I think it’s a matter of one win… Of course, don’t forget the (Mahendra Singh) Dhonis are up against such a good team… The Australians have hit the ground hard straightaway.”

But when will that “one win” materialise'

Footnote: The Bangalore-based Brijesh Patel, secretary of the Karnataka State Cricket Association, must be very pleased. For, back in April 2003 (as the then NCA director), he’d been negotiating with Whatmore to come on board. Talks fizzled out after the Jagmohan Dalmiya regime had second thoughts.

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