“You’re the first people to call,” Graham Ford remarked, his usual matter-of-fact manner coloured by a tinge of excitement, when the Hindustan Times got through to him on Monday night, shortly after the Indian cricket board announced that he was a front-runner for the post of India coach.
“I was talking to the BCCI and have just received the news,” said Ford, adding that he was still uncertain about what to say. “I really need some time to think this through but I am very excited about the possibility of this (coaching India).”
As first reported by HT on May 29, Ford’s name cropped up after it was proposed by senior Indian players, who apparently, had not been too excited about Whatmore after observing him at close quarters over their month in Bangladesh.
They had repeatedly asked the Board not to “close their eyes to other options”.
“His name had come up in a few discussions we had had with several players from around the world very positively, so we thought they must at least investigate it,” a top Indian player had told HT a few days ago.
The players had apparently given a lot of thought to who their next coach would be and were keen it would be someone “without any baggage or biases”. According to Board sources, after consulting his teammates, Indian skipper Rahul Dravid finally suggested that the BCCI at least try and look at Ford as a likely candidate.
Ford, when HT first spoke to him last Tuesday, had not yet been contacted by the BCCI but seemed cautiously interested when asked whether he would be keen about the job. “I am passionate about the game and would consider it (coaching India) a challenge. However, my family situation and my current position at Kent (where he is director of cricket) would have an impact on this consideration,” he had said then.
On Monday, while admitting he was extremely interested, he said that he was certain the Kent County Cricket Club would support him in whatever decision he took.
He reiterated that he needed time to study how the administrative side of Indian cricket worked and he was sure that similarly, they needed to move cautiously too. “They need time and so do I,” he said. “We have to learn about each other”. Asked if he expected a free hand, he said it was “too early to say so”.
Interestingly, while Ford will want time to study the BCCI, he had earlier said (in an email) that he did follow Indian cricket and had his “opinions” on the team. “Like all passionate cricket followers, I too know a fair amount about the Indian players and obviously have my opinions, but would not want to voice them as a mere onlooker,” he stated.
Now, unless that mysterious second name pushes him off the stage, Ford will have his chance to be much more than a bystander.