On the eve of their inaugural tour of England, Bangladesh's morale has received a major boost with the news that their inspirational coach, Dav Whatmore, has agreed to extend his contract by a further two years.
Whatmore took over as national coach after Bangladesh's disastrous performance in the 2003 World Cup, and in the intervening years he has supervised a steady improvement in the team's prospects. In October 2004 they came within one wicket of their inaugural Test victory, against Pakistan at Multan, and earlier this year they finally broke their duck by seeing off their fellow minnows, Zimbabwe, in a two-Test home series.
According to Cricinfo's sources in Bangladesh, Whatmore was very much in the running to take over the India job from John Wright, but was persuaded to stay on until the end of the World Cup, thanks in no small part to a salary that is reported to be nearly double his current deal.
"The Bangladesh Cricket Board feels it is important to have continuity," read the official statement, "to ensure that the bright young talent that has been introduced into the squad during his tenure continues to have his influence through to the World Cup in 2007."
As a former coach of Lancashire, Whatmore's knowledge of English conditions will be of paramount importance during the forthcoming tour. The team is set to be announced tomorrow, and the tour begins with a three-day match against British Universities at Fenner's on May 10.