<
>

BCCI to name new coach by second week of June

The Indian board (BCCI) said that the final decision on appointing a new coach for the Indian team will be taken by the second week of June by a seven-member committee. "The final decision will be known by the first or second week of June. The coach selection committee will meet in Bangalore on June 4 and within the next four-five days, things will be finalised," Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, said, while adding that two separate teams would be picked for the one-day series in Ireland and the bilateral visit to England later in the summer.

Shah, who arrived in Chittagong as part of a four-member delegation headed by president Sharad Pawar, denied that the BCCI's top brass had travelled to Bangladesh to talk to outgoing Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore, but said he was open for a discussion if Whatmore desired. "If he wants to meet me, I am open to it. There is no problem."

Shah, who is slated to return to India tomorrow, said the BCCI officials were in Bangladesh on an invitation from the Bangladesh Cricket Board and not to negotiate with Whatmore. "We have come here on an invitation from the Bangladesh Cricket Board to watch the game. We had come here hoping to see Sourav [Ganguly] and Sachin [Tendulkar] score a century. We have not come here to talk to Whatmore."

Regarding the urgency of coach selection, Shah said this was because the team was due to leave for Ireland on June 20. "That's the reason we plan to complete everything by June 10 and then have a camp for five days in Bangalore before going off for the trip."

Shah refused to say whether Whatmore was the front-runner for the job and claimed that the Board had some other names as well before it. "It will not be right to talk about this now as the series is mid-way. The committee will decide everything. But we have a lot of names."

Rajeev Shukla, the BCCI vice president, said Whatmore led the race as far as the coach's job was concerned. "Yes there are a few names. The BCCI is approaching it with an open mind. However, considering the availability of the best coaches, Dav could be a frontrunner." Shukla, however, made it clear that Pawar would not hold any discussions with Whatmore at this stage. "[Cricket manager Ravi] Shastri is here to talk to him. Pawar will not speak to him." The Board's Chief administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty is the other member of the BCCI team currently in Bangladesh .

Regarding the ODI teams for Ireland and England, Shah denied any specific instruction had been given to the selectors. The teams are expected to selected before June 10. Asked whether the seniors would rested for the ODI series in Ireland, Shah said, "that is for the selectors to decide depending on the number of games we play and the stress on the players."

Shah, however, gave clear indication that the policy of rotation and giving chance to fringe players would be adhered to, especially with a cramped itinerary looming ahead. "The selection also depends on the bank of players that we have at our disposal," he said. "There will be some players for both the tournaments and some who will be series specific."

India are scheduled to play three ODIs in Belfast, one against hosts Ireland (June 23) and and three against South Africa (June 26 and 29 and July 1). They then travel to England for a full-fledged series, from July 7 to September 8, preceded by a charity match against Pakistan on July 23 at Glasgow.