KOCHI March 17: In a first, the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) has turned to a foreign hand to arrest the sliding fortunes of their cricket team.
The KCA has approached former Australian cricketer and coach of 1996 World Cup winning Sri Lankan cricket team, Dav Whatmore to take over the reins of Kerala team before the next domestic season.
“Whatmore will be arriving in Chennai on March 22 and the contract will be finalized then. After the interaction in Chennai, we've had email communication with him. Former Kerala captain S. Ramesh will become the game director,” KCA secretary Jayesh George said.
KCA secretary Jayesh George confirmed the development and said that the Australian has shown an interest to coach the Kerala team for a short period.
"From what I gather, Whatmore has been offered a two-year contract by Sri Ramachandra Medical College (SRMC) centre, Chennai.
But there is a six-month window period in that contract and we are looking to utilize that to rope in Whatmore. We are hoping to finalise the deal by next week when Whatmore returns to the country from Australia.
If things work out, Whatmore will work with our boys from September this year and should be associated with KCA till February next year," said Jayesh.
Kerala had a forgettable Ranji season last year which also saw coach P Balachandran being shown the door after a string of poor results.
Former India pacer and bowling coach of Kerala team Tinu Yohannan was asked to fill in the void left by Balachandran.
But Kerala's fortunes showed no improvement under Tinu and the team couldn't make the Ranji knockout phase. The dismal performance of the team continued in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament and Vijay Hazare one-dayers and KCA wasted no time in looking for better options for next season.
Former Kerala captain S Ramesh, who was associated with Chennai SRMC centre, was the one who facilitated talks between Whatmore and the KCA management.
Whatmore had also spent some time with the Kerala cricketers before the Vijay Hazare tournament in Chennai in January.
In his career, Whatmore played seven Test matches and an ODI for Australia with modest results. But he became a more successful coach as he guided the Arjuna Ranatunga-led Sri Lankan team to their first World Cup success in 1996.
He has also coached Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe national sides and IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders. He also had a stint with National Cricket Academy, Bengaluru, as its director.
New role for Tinu
The state cricket association has decided to give Tinu charge of KCA's centre of excellence while S Ramesh will become the game director.
Meanwhile, former Kerala opener Narayan Kutty will head the cricket development committee which also features a host of former state cricketers including P Balachandran, Sunil Oasis, Sreekumar Nair, Ajay Kudva and Prasanth Chandran.