Desai’s Nepal duty is now officialNepal’s batting headache and the recent slump in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 are the two major concerns the Indian coach needs to address immediately.
India national Monty Desai, introduced as head coach of the national cricket team on Monday, said that he will try to create a happy dressing room.
The formal announcement of Desai, who started to train Nepal more than a week ago and signed a two-year contract, was delayed due to a lengthy paperwork process, according to Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) President Chatur Bahadur Chand.
Desai had been conducting training for the last 10 days but the CAN could not introduce him as coach due to paperwork, Chand said. “The government process was lousy and also the absence of the Minister for Youth and Sports in the cabinet also made it a bit late,” he said.
Chand has been under fire for lifting suspension on rape-accused cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane and the poor performance of CAN during the controversy-hit Nepal T20 League.
“The head coach has a long experience and has also worked in Nepal in the past,” Chand added.
Desai was in coaching roles in different Indian Premier League sides, including Rajasthan Royals and Gujrat Lions, apart from the national teams of United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan. He was also the former batting coach of the West Indies and head coach of Canada.
He will succeed his compatriot Manoj Prabhakar, who quit the hot seat in December last year, five months after his appointment. He will be the fourth coach of the Nepal national team in around two years following the resignations of Sri Lankan World Cup winning coach Dav Whatmore and Pubudu Dassanayake, both of whom quit without completing their tenure.
Speaking at the announcement ceremony, Desai refuted speculations that he would leave Nepal in a mess like his predecessors. “I have been very clear in my mind and I have commitment with my job,” he said. “The contract is for two years and it could be extended beyond that as well. The extension will also depend on results, people out here and the association [CAN].”
CAN’s Cricket Manager Binod Das said that they were hopeful of a long term association with Desai. “He is committed to us and so are we,” Das said. “He had even asked for a three-year contract. But it could be extended by mutual consent after two years. He has come up with a long term vision for Nepali cricket.”
The first major assignment for Desai for Nepal will be to lead the team in the Tri Series of the ICC World Cup League 2 involving Nepal, Scotland and Namibia at the TU Cricket Ground, set to be held from February 14 to 21. Nepal will also host Papua New Guinea and the UAE at the home ground in March in the League 2.
He will face a herculean task of fixing the inconsistent batting line up that has been a headache for the Rhinos and also retain the One-Day International status, which they gained in March 2018 for five years.
Nepal, currently sixth in the seven-team League 2, have 18 points from 24 matches. Top five teams at the end of the League 2 cycle will retain ODI status. The teams finishing in the top three positions will qualify for World Cup Qualifiers and the bottom four will have to go through playoffs for the Qualifiers. Nepal’s hope of making into the top three is almost over.
“It is all about bringing consistency in the team,” Desai said. “The players are skillful and it’s about how to bring consistency, understand their strengths and execute those strengths on the field.”
Desai went on, “It is a process and we do not expect everyone to perform immediately. But the more confident they get about their skills, the more they understand their roles. They have scored 270 plus in some tight matches. It gives me confidence that once you put plans in place and players are clear about their roles we could improve on that department.”
When asked whether rape-accused former captain Sandeep Lamichhane will be in the final squad, he did not give a clear answer.
“I am monitoring how the squad is shaping up,” he said. “He is in the present scenario of the squad. On the ground, he is very much present in his role. He is received well by the team as well and he has been doing what he knows to do which is his bowling.”
CAN President Chand said the selection committee will decide if Lamichhane would be included in the squad or not.
“It is the procedure of the selection committee,” Chand said. “If he is physically fit and if his service is required in the team, CAN would not interfere.”