Pity if Pune Warriors don't play - Donald
Allan Donald, the recently appointed bowling coach of the Pune Warriors, said players and administrators of the franchise are "waiting with bated breath" to see if they will participate in the fifth season of the IPL. The franchise's owners, Sahara India Parivar, withdrew their ownership of the Warriors an hour before the February 4 auction, throwing the participation of the team into doubt. Sahara and the BCCI have said they are open to negotiations with each other, and Donald said he is "hopeful" the Warriors will be able to compete.
"We hope something can come of it," Donald told ESPNcricinfo. "I met some really good people there and it will be a pity if it doesn't work out."
Donald was contracted as the Warriors bowling coach in January 2012 and was part of a training camp conducted in Pune last week. He was impressed by the talent he saw there and was enjoying helping build the squad. The camp gave him a chance to get to know the local players. "Ashish Nehra and Murali Kartik were there and a couple of the new guys like Manish Pandey," he said. "We met some of the younger guys and I can tell you there's some really good talent. We also conducted a trial, which was really good."
The Warriors do not have a head coach, with a team consisting of Donald, Paddy Upton, the mental and conditioning coach, Praveen Amre, the batting coach, and Sourav Ganguly, player and mentor, entrusted with managing the side. Donald said the coaching team had already started building an ideology and style for the squad. "Paddy [Upton] did the team bonding brilliantly. We had it for two-and-a -half days and it wasn't all-out cricket. We got to know each other and we really connected."
The fate of the players contracted to the Warriors is still unknown. If the franchise is dissolved, they will have to find new teams. It may result in some of them not featuring at all in the 2012 season of the IPL.
If that happens, they will not be the only resources wasted in this edition. Donald lamented that the new Subrata Roy Stadium in Pune might not see any action, after it was specially constructed for the competition. "They've built a magnificent stadium; it's a work of art and I can't imagine not playing there."
The Pune Warriors are the fourth team over the past 18 months whose status ahead of an IPL season remains unclear. The pullout surprised the team-management, who had travelled to Bangalore for the auction
"It was an enormous surprise to all of us," Donald said. "We had absolutely no idea. The night before we were up until past midnight, discussing which players we were going to buy. We would have got all of them."
Donald and Upton were flown to Mumbai that very afternoon and left for South Africa. The reality hit Donald "really hard on the plane because we had such a great camp." Now, he, like the others involved with the Warriors, is "hoping for the best."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent