x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Kochi set to hire legend Waugh

The former Australia captain is poised to be unveiled as a key adviser and technical consultant to the newly-formed Indian Premier League franchise.

Steve Waugh is expected to have a key role in the running of the new Kochi IPL franchise.
Steve Waugh is expected to have a key role in the running of the new Kochi IPL franchise.

DUBAI // Steve Waugh, the former Australia captain, is poised to be unveiled as a key adviser and technical consultant to Kochi, the newly-formed Indian Premier League franchise. The batsman was approached by Harshad Mehta, the Dubai-based chairman of Kochi, earlier this month and discussions are at an advanced stage for Waugh to spearhead the team's maiden season in the expanded 10-team league next year.

"We are trying to get Steve Waugh to be a part of the team," Mehta said. "Waugh will be at a top position in the team with two layers of people below him." Mehta is also attempting to lure Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka batsman and leading scorer in the World Twenty20, away from Kings XI Punjab for next season. "I like Mahela personally and have a very good relation with him," Mehta said. "I was the first person to take him outside Sri Lanka to play in South Africa. My relation with him is over 20 years now. If he is available and if I have a successful bid, he will be part of Kochi team.".

Shanthakumaran Sreeshanth, who comes from Kerala, has already agreed to join the team from the Kings XI, according to Mehta. "He is the best bowler but not very mature," said Mehta. "He must have a target and everything will be good." With only four overseas players permitted in the starting XI, players from India, especially from Gujarat and Delhi, will form the nucleus of the squad. "We'll take lot of players from Gujarat and mostly we are taking from Delhi," said Mehta. "We are very keen on Delhi. They are very good fighters."

The name of the team, the manager and the make-up of the squad will all be announced by the end of the month. Controversy has surrounded the franchise since the owners bid US$333 million (Dh1.2bn) to be one of the two new teams. Lalit Modi's controversial tweets over the ownership structure of the franchise snowballed into a chain of events that led to him being suspended as the chairman and commissioner of the IPL by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Shashi Tharoor, the Minister of External Affairs, resigning.

Modi, who is responding to a series of show-cause notices, rebuffed Mehta's attempts to bring the Kochi team to the UAE, making Abu Dhabi their adopted home ground until the cricket stadium in Kochi was ready. Modi, according to Mehta, wanted to keep the league confined to India. @Email:pmenon@thenational.ae