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Ford to take over at Surrey in February

Andrew Fidel Fernando

October 14, 2013

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Mahela Jayawardene and Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford have a discussion during training, Hambantota, July 20, 2012
Ford has been a popular figure in the Sri Lanka cricket establishment since taking the job in 2012 © AFP
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Players/Officials: Graham Ford | Kevin Pietersen | Graeme Smith
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Graham Ford has agreed to become head coach at Surrey after his contract with Sri Lanka expires in January. He has signed a three-year contract with the county.

Ford had been linked to the vacant position at The Oval since July when Chris Adams was sacked. He had been informally approached by Surrey while coaching Sri Lanka at the Champions Trophy, but Ford said the deal had only firmed up in the past few weeks. He cited "family commitments" as the chief reason for refusing a renewal of his contract with Sri Lanka.

"I had already decided that I was leaving before Surrey even advertised the position, so it took a bit of time," Ford said. "From a family point of view it works a lot better, in terms of all the time away from family that I currently have to go through."

Ford has a strong relationship with Surrey cricketer Kevin Pietersen, having known him since Pietersen's time at High School in Durban. He had also been the man Pietersen endorsed for the England head coach role, after Pietersen's turmoil with Peter Moores ended with Moores' sacking in 2009.

Ford's move to Surrey will strengthen the South African connection at the county, where Graeme Smith is captain, but Ford suggested his relationships with players at Surrey did not necessarily spur him to take the job.

"I haven't coached any of their players, really," he said. "I think Pietersen plays about one game a year for them, if that, so he's not really part of it. But I have worked with Graeme Smith briefly, as he was just coming into the South African national side."

Graham Ford appointed as Surrey Head Coach

But Surrey chief executive Richard Gould had told The Telegraph that Pietersen's links with Ford had played a role in the team's choice of coach, as had Ford's extensive coaching experience. Ford coached South Africa for three years after the 1999 World Cup, and has also coached Kent, in addition to his two years with Sri Lanka.

"There were some discussions with KP and Graham came very highly recommended from many quarters," Gould said. "When we spoke to him he was an impressive guy and ambitious.

"We were looking for somebody with county experience and preferably international experience as well. We also wanted somebody who has a good track record in delivering improvement to players and the team with a good hard working ethic who will be a help to take the club forward."

Ford will be tasked with arresting a two-year slide at the county, which ended with Surrey being relegated to the Division Two of the County Championship this year. He performed a similar role with Sri Lanka, who won their first Test series since Muttiah Muralitharan retired under Ford, though they were also whitewashed 3-0 in Australia during his tenure.

"It is in part a rebuilding job but we have a lot of good youngsters and senior players," Gould said. "It is about getting the most out of them as individuals and as a group."

Sri Lanka Cricket had been desperate to keep Ford, even asking him to reconsider his decision to leave, after he had initially informed them of his plans. Chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, in particular, has been a vocal supporter of Ford since his time with the Natal side that Ford coached. He had taken the job after Geoff Marsh was sacked in January 2012.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

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Posted by brusselslion on (October 15, 2013, 15:17 GMT)

Well, he can't do worse than Adams..... can he?

Posted by   on (October 15, 2013, 8:41 GMT)

Nothing new with these coaches. They just use countries like Sri Lanka as a means to progress into the world stage. He was always going to take over Surrey post. Who are they trying to kid. Best of luck Surrey. He did not move mountains in Sri Lanka. The team went from bad to worse. It is time we appoint a local coach who are more than capable.

Posted by yorkslanka on (October 15, 2013, 8:17 GMT)

As a Sri Lankan , this has come as no surprise to me..A little bit naughty of Surrey to approach him whilst he was in the position coaching us at the CT but to be fair to him, he has seen out his contract with us so we cant expect anything more from him. The best of luck to him in his new role. This isnt sour grapes from me, but tbh he hasnt really done much for SL cricket in his time so, whilst he is no doubt a good coach, its a win:win for both parties...

Posted by Dhushan on (October 14, 2013, 22:35 GMT)

And he said the reason he wasn't renewing his contract was family reasons. Of course it is Mr. Ford.

Posted by SDHM on (October 14, 2013, 14:48 GMT)

@Cyril_Knight - seeing as these 'Somerset-sized' decisions have seen that county consistently challenging on all fronts until this season for the last few years whilst Surrey have done sweet FA, maybe taking a leaf out of their book wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (October 14, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

While this is a stellar signing and he one most people wanted the players are the ones who achieve the results and what goes on in their minds is the main key. Basically we have to have a team out there playing not 11 talented individuals. It is interesting that the leading wicket taker aqain was Linley.Who? I would play him most of the time because he achieves results. He did so in spades in 2011. One or two more guys like this help make a team,not an all stars IX. Everyone has to pull their weight, work really hard and have the right attitude. Adams thought he could sign up a team. It's better in the long run to have a homegrown team like the one which evolved through the '90's and won 3 championships. We have some good young players and they need to be brought on, and given the right opportunities. Using our time in Div 2 wisely is the first objective.

Posted by Whatsgoinoffoutthere on (October 14, 2013, 13:27 GMT)

"Surrey in big name recruitment move" The shock of it.

Posted by Dhushan on (October 14, 2013, 12:30 GMT)

The reason he gave Sri Lanka Cricket as to not renewing his contract was family commitments; and he accepts the Surrey job.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (October 14, 2013, 10:49 GMT)

@ Cyril_Knight on (October 14, 2013, 9:28 GMT): Yes, it would have been good to have had Ford in July, but as this article's first sentence makes clear, he is contracted to SL until the end of January! He has inherited a club low on confidence, reflected in a dreadful couple of seasons. Beginning in Div 2 gives Graham Ford every chance to build steadily & securely - and the emphasis has to be on blending youth with quality experienced players (say Solanki, Batty & Steve Davies), the latter probably not comprising more than three of the eleven - four if Graeme Smith makes it back for a full season. A return to Div 1 without a nucleus of players under 30, not allowing disenchanted youngsters to try their luck elsewhere, must come in due course - and that may take two seasons; there is nothing like relegation to bring about a reality check! Meanwhile, something must be done about the moribund state of the wickets at the Oval; they have not done anyone any favours. I wish GF well!

Posted by Cyril_Knight on (October 14, 2013, 9:28 GMT)

Looks like a good appointment. But Gould should have done more to try and get him in July. The decision to go with Stewart was always going to lead to relegation, he was never going to change anything.

While Gould deserves some praise for getting a top man, it is only one good thing in a reign of many poor decisions, that he has never justified or explained.

I hope this is a sign that Gould is beginning to think big, to think Surrey. So far he has only delivered small, Somerset-sized, plans that have not been appropriate for a club with Surrey's brand potential.

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