Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Whatmore unlikely to join as Baroda head coach

BCA’s chief executive officer Shishir Hattangadi admitted that Whatmore’s availability looks quite bleak due to the travel restrictions and the COVID-19 protocols.

It is "highly unlikely" for Whatmore to travel down to India for the domestic season, which starts in January next year.   -  P.K. Ajith Kumar

About eight months ago, the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) had named Dav Whatmore as its head coach for the domestic season. But Sportstar understands that the seasoned coach - who guided Sri Lanka to its World Cup title win in 1996 - is unlikely to be available for the season, scheduled to begin on January 10 next year.

While Whatmore, who is currently in Australia, indicated that it may not be possible for him to join the team for the truncated season, BCA’s chief executive officer Shishir Hattangadi admitted that Whatmore’s availability looks quite bleak due to the travel restrictions and the COVID-19 protocols.

“When we signed him, we knew that he does not stay in India, but now with the restrictions due to COVID and visa issues, it looks bleak,” Hattangadi, a former Mumbai Ranji Trophy captain, said. “The intention was always to have him (Whatmore) on board. He wanted to come and even he is as much disappointed as we are,” he added.

Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: A race against time for most state units

Kaustuv Lahiri, who manages Whatmore, also confirmed that it's "highly unlikely" for Whatmore to travel down to India and take up the role.

In April, Baroda had named Whatmore as the head coach and the director of cricket, after initially shortlisting him, Chandrakant Pandit and Sulakshan Kulkarni for the top job.

However, in August, the Board of Control for Cricket in India issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the state units, advising that coaches, members of the support staff and ground staff above 60 years of age be discouraged from participating in training. This had put 66-year-old Whatmore’s assignment in a spot. In the absence of Whatmore, Baroda has already started conducting camps under the watchful eyes of the local coaches - including former India pacer Munaf Patel. The association has roped in Smit Patel as the guest player for this season. 

Baroda keen on hosting T20 tournament

The BCA has shown interest in hosting the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in a bio-secure environment. The association, which has five grounds, has already expressed its keenness to the BCCI.

Also read: Domestic cricket season to begin with Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on January 10  

While Kolkata and Bengaluru could be the two host cities, and possibilities are there that one leg could be held in Baroda as it may not be possible to conduct games in Mumbai due to the COVID restrictions by the state government. Another factor that could work for Baroda is its proximity to Ahmedabad and Mumbai.