'My position was undermined consistently by the BCB'
What made you interested in the Bangladesh job at the beginning?
A sports management group brought it to my attention. They'd had an inquiry from Bangladesh, and I was told Bangladesh wanted me to put my CV forward. I did so and then I got an offer to take the job. I replied that I wouldn't take a job without meeting the administration. Although I wasn't actually looking for this job, I thought out of respect for them that I should go out to Bangladesh and hear what they had to say.
Can you explain your current position with Bangladesh cricket?
I won't be continuing as head coach. I've been fulfilling my role in good faith, given that I haven't had a contract for nearly five months. But everybody's patience has limits and my position has been made completely untenable.
Why is that?
The board, in the form of Nizamuddin Chowdhury the chief executive, approached me earlier this year on three occasions to become head coach. I turned them down twice, as I couldn't commit to the amount of time they wanted me to be with the team and in Bangladesh, which was 320 days a year. I explained that I had family responsibilities that stop me from being away for this amount of time. The third time they approached me, I explained again, in detail, what the issues were. I said I could prepare the team in camps, tour with them and be there for all series, but I needed to get home between tours for my family. If they were happy with that, then I could do the job for them. That was when they agreed that I would be able to go home between tours. That is the heart of the matter.
Did you have this agreement as both written agreement and verbal?
No, their agreement was never made explicit in the contract they presented to me in Dhaka so I refused to sign it. I tried repeatedly to resolve it. I initiated more than six meetings and discussions to make the terms of the contract negotiation transparent and offer solutions but to no avail. That is why I have decided I will not go back.
Because you didn't [have it in writing], why did you decide to go in the first place?
I felt we could work it out. My conscience is completely clear. I could not sign a contract that is different from the agreement I made when I accepted the job. I got on with the coaching but when details of my contract where leaked to the media and discussed in the public domain, I felt the BCB had made their position clear. They fundamentally undermined the principles of confidentiality and they went back on their word.
Did you try to resolve the issues?
After seeking resolution on the contract problem for over three months, I spoke to the [BCB] president again about it after the WT20. I wrote up the meeting in an email to the president, CEO and director of cricket. I gave them solutions to the issues that had not been included in the contract. All of this I of course expected to be confidential.
A few days later, I was contacted by Bangladesh journalists who said my contract had been leaked to them by the BCB administration. This was followed by a press statement from the BCB, saying I hadn't signed my contract and that I'd gone away without submitting plans for the upcoming West Indies tour. This wasn't true. The plans had been submitted nearly three weeks earlier and then rejected by Cricket Operations. They took a confidential contract discussion into the public domain and proceeded to give press statements on it, breaching the privacy and confidentiality expected in contract discussions.
Are there any issues besides leave that led to your decision?
I asked for the mandate of authority and responsibility to run the national side without interference from board directors and was given that assurance by board president [Mustafa] Kamal. In reality that was never the case. My position was undermined consistently by interference from the board, some of whom were not only obstructive, but seemed to be completely ignorant of cricket.
I've learnt in over twenty years of coaching professionally that if you don't have full accountability and responsibility for your work, then those boundaries will be interfered with. You sink and swim with your players and coaching team. When we get it wrong we lose our jobs, that's professional sport, we understand that. Administrators don't lose their jobs, but when you win everyone wants ownership of it.
Can you give examples of the interference?
Definitely, there were a few times I couldn't make any decisions as a coach without getting permission from the cricket operations department. I couldn't even get the board to sign off on providing healthy sandwiches for the players after training. Players were going down with food poisoning during camps, so I wanted to offer them something better than a fried egg sandwich. I was told I couldn't, because that was all the budget could afford.
In our preparations for the World T20, I flagged three months earlier that our game analysis system wasn't giving us access to detailed information about the opposition. It was a license you would not use for a schoolboy team, never mind a national team. The board dithered for weeks on this, and they still haven't made a decision on it. Our primary opportunity to do well at the T20 World Cup was to prepare better than the opposition sides, because we had the time in our schedule, which they didn't. The analysis was only granted to us by the time we arrived in Sri Lanka, by which time it was virtually worthless. We must have been the only side at the World T20 who hadn't had access to basic opposition analysis.
I had highlighted the issues with interference, having board directors acting operationally on tours as head of the tour delegation, when in fact that is the team manager's job. They wanted to sit in on team meetings, the team bus and the dressing room.
The captain and I left out two senior players when we were in Trinidad for a T20 competition prior to the WT20. They were carrying niggles and we wanted to rest them so they were fit for the World Cup. These players were called at 1 am in the morning after the game, with the captain, team physiotherapist and team manager. The players were given a dressing down for letting the country down and told that they could be sent home if they weren't fit. Conveniently, I was not invited to this meeting.
It was recently suggested that I hadn't put forward preparation plans for the upcoming series against West Indies. This is quite untrue. I had done this last month, but they were rejected nearly three weeks later by the cricket operations department. Apparently, they know how to prepare better for Test cricket than the coach.
When you first went to Bangladesh, you said you were excited by the challenge. Did that change at all in the course of your time there?
I've always been driven by winning and excellence as a coach. I knew when I took the job that the team hadn't had a lot of 'winning' success, so the focus was going to be on building on the progress they had made, and focusing on getting excellence in our individual and team preparation. I took the job because I was excited about helping an emerging nation develop. I didn't look at it as a career move. I've been fortunate to have achieved many of my coaching goals, and I really saw it as an opportunity to help Bangladesh to grow in cricket terms.
Do you see promise in Bangladesh cricket and will you miss the players and the opportunity to help them improve?
There is promise, but they have to get their feeder structures right if they want consistent success. Richard McInnes (the National Academy director) and I proposed a streamlining of their player production system, but it was rejected. Cricket Operations refused to work with Richard in running the feeder teams to the national side. They have an exceptional young man in their captain, Mushfiqur Rahim, and genuine international potential in Shakib [Al Hasan], Tamim [Iqbal] and others. There is a core of genuinely passionate administrators, but they seemed to be swamped by politics.
Is there a danger that administration of the BCB will affect the playing side of things?
They need to make changes in their corporate governance: it is vital that the operational staff are able to do their work. At present they can't act without seeking permission from board of directors. It's the only way to clear a path for the cricket side to be able to move forward.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent