Nayan Mongia, the former Indian wicketkeeper, has been appointed as the coach of the Thailand cricket team, which is preparing for the Asian Cricket Council Trophy scheduled in June at Kuala Lumpur. This will mark a return of sorts to international cricket for Mongia, who was disgraced by matchfixing allegations and later exonerated. The ACC Trophy is the qualifying tournament for the ICC Trophy that will be held in Ireland in 2005, which in turn is the feeder tournament for the World Cup in 2007.
Mongia has been appointed for one-and-a-half months and will have the additional responsibility of coaching the Thailand under-19 squad. Mongia is not new to coaching - he has been involved in training juniors in Baroda in the past. "It's always good to pass one's experience to youngsters. And besides the players here are keen to learn," Mongia told The Indian Express.
Mongia's main grouse is about the limited practice pitches in Bangkok. "There are just two turf wickets in Bangkok, and they are used only for playing matches. Because of this we have to practice on astroturf."
It is not the first time that an Indian will be coaching the Thailand team. Sanjeev Sharma, who played international cricket for a brief period in the late 80s and early 90s, was their coach for three months in 2002. Sharma, a medium-pacer and a handy lower-order batsman, represented Rajasthan in the Ranji this season as player and coach.
If Thailand play against Hong Kong in the upcoming tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Mongia's counterpart will be Robin Singh, his former teammate and Indian all-rounder. Robin, who left for Hong Kong in the beginning of May, is the current coach of the Hong Kong team. He has been given the job for the next two-and-a-half months.