All signs point to Ford
Unless something goes very wrong, Graham Ford is likely to be appointed India's next coach when the committee that is charged with making the decision meets with the prospective candidates at the Taj Coromandel hotel in Chennai tomorrow evening. All indications on the ground suggest that John Emburey's 11th-hour entry into the fray could simply be a case of clutching at straws for those who do not want the players to get their way unchallenged.
Ford and Emburey are both scheduled to arrive in Chennai from London on Saturday morning and may have the chance to spend some time with each other on the way should they so choose. From all indications, Emburey was very much a last-minute choice of the seven-man committee that met in Bangalore. Sources have revealed to Cricinfo that the committee felt it would be perceived to have not transacted any business if it did not come up with a candidate to challenge the one the players wanted.
It is an open secret that the players have wanted Ford, perhaps less well-known that Dav Whatmore's candidature was shot down primarily because there were a number of cricketers in the team who believed he would not be the best man for the job. Whatmore's eagerness to impose himself on the process, coupled with interaction the Indian players had with their Bangladeshi counterparts during the recently completed tour, put paid to any chances that Whatmore might have had.
But now the attention has swung in a different direction altogether. While the prime candidate for the job is Ford, who comes with a curriculum vitae stacked with positives, there could still be a hitch. Unlike Whatmore, who had already terminated his contract with Bangladesh and expressed his keenness and enthusiasm to take up the India job, Ford has done nothing to canvass for the position. If anything, Ford is already comfortably employed by Kent, and has the security of a contract that runs till 2008 to fall back on.
For Ford not to get the job now, one of two things must happen. The first is that he makes such an unimpressive presentation that he rules himself out of contention. That seems unlikely given that he is a professional in the modern coaching arena and has a working knowledge of how to put his case forward.
The second scenario where Ford could not get the job is where the Board of Control for Cricket in India makes him an offer so poor that it does not tempt him to leave Kent. While monetary concerns form one part, the major issue deals with the constant travel, the high-pressure, the expectations of Indian fans fuelled by a powerful and ever-present media. Ford will want to be adequately compensated for this. If the Indian board fails to realise this, and makes him an offer that is less than generous, he may not consider the job worth the trouble.
What makes Ford's position so strong is that his competitor has done little of note in his second innings in cricket. With no disrespect to Emburey, who was a restrictive and canny offspinner and a lower-order batsman that opposition teams worried about, his coaching record is something Ford will lose no sleep over. Emburey's stints with Northamptonshire and Middlesex have been such unqualified disasters that no one in the know believes he could land the India job off his own bat. "Embers? Are you sure you have the right John? It's probably Invers you want," said one Middlesex player in disbelief, referring to John Inverarity, who is consultant with the county, when asked about Emburey.
It seems like an unfair thing to say to a man who has played 64 Tests, taking 147 wickets and scoring more than 1700 runs at over 20, but when it comes to coaching credentials, Emburey has nothing on the man who never played Tests and only averaged 13.5 from 7 first-class games. Till recently, when you Googled for "Graham Ford", the first thing you got was "Columbus Ford Dealer of Ohio State with a great selection of new and used cars, trucks, hybrid escape, mustang and SUV vehicles," and nothing relevant to cricket on the first page. All that is set to change, unless of course, Ford puts a higher price on his anonymity than on the most challenging, and potentially rewarding, job in cricket coaching.
Anand Vasu is associate editor of Cricinfo