Out-of-work cricket coach Dav Whatmore, whose overtures to the Indian and Pakistani cricket authorities to train the national teams were turned down recently, may find succour in an alien world: as director of a talent hunt company.
Investors In Cricket (IIC), a two-year-old UK-based company that organized Cricket Star, a reality cricket talent show on Indian television earlier this year, says it has approached Whatmore to be associated with the company as a director.
Company spokesperson Dalip Pande said Whatmore would also offer tips to the contestants during the second edition of the project, registration for which has begun.
IIC admits that the final agreement has not been signed but claims it was just a matter of time before this was done. “Whatmore needs certain clarifications, such as the length of the tenure…it’ll be long-term as he’ll be one of the directors,” Pande said.
Whatmore, currently in Australia, couldn’t be reached on phone and didn’t reply to an e-mailed questionnaire. According to Pande, he’s “shown interest” and told IIC that if the association is of a short term nature, he’d have to plan “other projects”.
Pande said Whatmore was an ideal candidate as he knew the conditions in the subcontinent – having coached the Sri Lankan and the Bangladesh national squads in the past, was familiar with local lifestyles, food and players’ physiques. He’d be filling in for director Robin Singh, now with the Indian team in England as its fielding coach.
Whatmore was the coach of the Bangladesh team till India’s tour to that country in May, and had not agreed to a renewal of the contract; he had hoped to step in Greg Chappell’s shoes as the coach of the Indian team.
When that didn’t happen, he approached the Pakistani board, but couldn’t get the job as players objected. He’s been on the hunt for a new assignment ever since.
Cricket Star, like most reality shows, follows the format of elimination, based on votes polled in from viewers. Matches are played on regular fields between contestants, and in the first edition of the show between January and March, recorded clips were shown on sports channel Zee Sports.
The winner, Sukhvir Singh, the 20-year-old fast bowler son of a bus driver from a Punjab village, has been sent to the UK for further training at the Leicestershire County Cricket Club, one of the oldest teams on the English county circuit and the current Twenty20 champions. Other talents were sent to academies run by former cricketers such as Kapil Dev and Robin Singh.
“Cricket Star is not a show about rich kids spending daddy’s money at big cricket clubs, it’s about scouting for real talent in the interiors, the India we rarely bother about,” said Pande. To press his point, he referred to current Indian new ball bowler Munaf Patel, who hails from a tiny village called Ithar.
The next edition of Cricket Star will have new features but Pande wouldn’t reveal details, fearing competition from other players. He also wouldn’t commit a firm date when the show would start, saying, “Things are being put in place”.
Talks were also on multiple broadcasters including the state-run Doordarshan and the Dubai-based Ten Sports, apart from last year’s channel partners Zee Sports. Some entertainment channels have also approached IIC, Pande said.