Ranatunga wants Indian job, Bayliss aims a little lower

TREVOR Bayliss will fly to Colombo next week to interview for Tom Moody's recently vacated post - but the impending arrival of the NSW coach was not the biggest development in Sri Lanka yesterday.

Instead, the emergence of former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga as a leading contender for India's head coaching position had the cricketing world abuzz, particularly with India set to tour Australia next summer.

The nomination of Ranatunga, who has made an artform out of antagonising Australian players for over a decade, reflects India's willingness to adopt an unorthodox and aggressive approach ahead of a 12-month period in which they will play Australia in eight Tests and about 20 one-day internationals.

With almost no coaching experience to speak of - most of his post-playing career has been spent in Sri Lankan politics, where he has held sporting and tourism portfolios - Ranatunga's allure to the Indians lies in his headstrong leadership style, which he employed to great effect as captain throughout Sri Lanka's triumphant 1996 World Cup campaign.

At this stage Ranatunga is ranked behind former South African coach Greg Ford in the race to succeed Greg Chappell as coach of India. But with a final round of interviews scheduled for this Saturday, the BCCI could yet call on Ranatunga to drag India out of their recent cricketing malaise and transform them into an aggressive force able to compete with Australia.

Ranatunga's sudden emergence on the scene has prompted Indian officials to announce that Dav Whatmore, the former Australian batsman and coach of Bangladesh, was out of the race to succeed Chappell.

Whatmore, however, remains in contention for the Pakistan coaching position.

"I'm just deciding what the next move is," said Whatmore, who has returned home to Melbourne after completing all his coaching duties with Bangladesh.

"When I know, you'll know."

News of Ranatunga's candidacy for the Indian position coincided with confirmation that Bayliss, who has two years remaining on his contract with the Blues, will compete against Australian assistant coach Jamie Siddons and Queensland mentor Terry Oliver for the head coach's job in Sri Lanka.

The Blues coach has already turned down an offer from the Australia Centre of Excellence and an approach from Bangladesh this off-season but will likely take the Sri Lankan job if it is offered to him.

He is due to be interviewed by Sri Lankan officials in Colombo on June 14.
"It's a job with an international team, and one of the better international teams, so you'd be nuts not to hear them out," Bayliss said. "And if something was offered, you'd be silly to knock it back.

"I spoke to Tom [Moody] about a week ago just to find out what I can expect in the interview. So now it's just a case of going over and seeing what they have to say."

Bayliss's current employer, Cricket NSW, has confirmed it will not stop him taking up the coaching position in Sri Lanka if he is successful.

Chief executive Dave Gilbert added that Sri Lanka's pursuit of Bayliss had prompted Blues officials to formulate contingency plans in the event their head coach departs.

"We won't be standing in the way of Trevor," Gilbert said. "If he wants to prove himself on the international stage, we will stand aside. We don't want to lose him, but we realise he is very ambitious, and in the long term he wants to coach Australia.

"Coaching another international side would be a big step towards that goal. Just look at the way it catapulted Tom Moody to the upper echelons of world cricket."

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia has contracted Chappell, Bruce Reid and John Wright as consultant coaches for next season.

Wright was CA's first choice to succeed Tim Nielsen as head coach of the Centre of Excellence, but the former New Zealand batsman was apparently reluctant to relocate his family across the Tasman.


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