Dav Whatmore has signed a six-month deal as head coach of Kerala. The formal announcement was made by the Kerala Cricket Association in Kochi last week. He will start mid-September and will likely see out the entire 2017-18 domestic season. Apart from coaching the senior team, Whatmore will also be involved in KCA's junior cricket programmes and work closely with coaches in charge of the Under-23 team.
"It's important to build a system which can then help extend growth within the game across the state. That is what I'm looking forward to doing," Whatmore told ESPNcricinfo. "That said, it's also important to bring in results along with development of these young players. It takes time and I'm confident this association will last more than just the six months we've agreed upon. But for now this is a good start."
Whatmore, whose coaching stint with Zimbabwe ended in May 2016, is currently based in India. He is on a three-year deal as a consultant with the Chennai-based Sri Ramachandra University, which has collaborated with his cricket academy - Whatmore Centre of Cricket. He will be assisted there by a team of coaches with whom he hopes to streamline talent across age-groups.
"I'm focused on the development side of the game, but it so happened that I could combine that along with coaching an upcoming state side, which I found challenging. That explains my association with Kerala," Whatmore said. "I'll be working six months with SRU to help set up a system, and it so worked out that the domestic season in India starts only after that.
"June to August is not a good time for cricket in Kerala with the monsoons. With this arrangement, we can also have the senior and junior Kerala teams train in Chennai at the SRU facility. That would also allow an opportunity to work not just with Kerala in the pre-season but also complete my initial commitment as far as setting up of a system in Chennai goes."
Kerala had a poor 2016-17 Ranji Trophy campaign in which they managed just one win in nine matches. Halfway through their campaign, the association sacked P Balachandran as head coach, citing "non-performance", and replaced him with Tinu Yohannan, the former India fast bowler. Their poor form extended across formats - they finished fourth in the South Zone Inter-State T20s and failed to advance to the knockout stage of the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy.
"It's a completely different challenge because I don't know much about the side, but what I do know is they've been struggling to make the step up as far as first-class cricket is concerned. Helping them graduate to the next level is a challenge that excited me," Whatmore said. "There is plenty of potential within the state. Taking the lead in five out of the eight games says they're doing something right. If you can do it in the first innings, surely there is potential, but players are getting lost somewhere. That is why the off-season is crucial."
Whatmore has previously coached four international sides, Zimbabwe most recently. He was in charge of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan prior to that. In India, he has been involved with the National Cricket Academy and the Under-19 team apart from coaching Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.