Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) kept its promise to find a new national coach with Australian Jamie Siddons set to arrive in Dhaka this morning to take over the challenging assignment.
43-year-old Siddons, who is currently enjoying a role with the Centre of Excellence and as one of the assistant coaches of the famed Australian national side, will be precisely the eighth foreign coach of the Tigers provided that everything goes according to plan during his brief sojourn.
"Jamie Siddons will arrive in Dhaka tomorrow, 29 October 2007, Monday to finalise his employment contract and have discussions with the Bangladesh Cricket Board relating to his new responsibilities as coach of Bangladesh," said the press release of the BCB yesterday, confirming that the secret assignment of the board's cricket operation's committee chairman Gazi Ashraf Hossain in India during Australia's visit there earlier this month was a successful one.
Lipu took the guarded stand because of the twists of events over the last one month that saw shocking refusals one after another.
"Before the official signing, we can't say that Siddons is our national coach but both parties have agreed in principle and now, it's just a formality. He will make his presentation to the board," said an excited but cautious Lipu, who was under tremendous pressure to find a new coach after Australian Dav Whatmore's contract expired in May. Untreatably, Lipu was not interested to disclose the financial packages of the former Victorian batsman. However, it was learnt that he is going to receive a much-improved salary than his predecessor Whatmore, who received a monthly package of Tk 14 lakh.
"We are trying to maintain the Australian standard," said a diplomatic Lipu.
With the surprise development it is now all but confirmed that the Tigers are going to travel to New Zealand for a full series in November under a permanent coach.
"I am thrilled to announce that I have accepted an offer from the BCB to coach Bangladesh," Siddons said in a message to the board.
The Siddons news came as a relief. Over the last month, it seemed that it would not be possible for the board's ad-hoc committee to meet their deadline after all three short-listed candidates, made by the previous board, including Siddons, withdrew from the race.
Some even doubted the effort made by the new committee in their drive to find Whatmore's successor but the board members managed to surprise the cricketing circle with this coup.
Siddons first expressed his reluctance to take the responsibility while talking with a BCB official during the ICC World Twenty20 Championship in South Africa but he changed his mind during his discussion with Lipu in India last week.
The former national skipper met the Australian assistant coach in Mumbai during the series against India.
"For greater interest, we didn't want to make the discussion in public. We have a very high expectation with the national team coach and no doubt, Siddons was the most preferred in the list," said Lipu.
"Although, he did not have a rich international career as a player, he had a very healthy record in first-class competition. The most encouraging fact is that he has already made his mark as a coach," he added.
The lively Siddons, who played only one one-day international for Australia against Pakistan in 1988 and has also played Australian Rules football, impressed Lipu most.
"His interest about the support staff and facilities is really encouraging but what impressed me most was his energetic character," he said.
It was a much more demanding issue for the new committee to appoint a national coach and they are all set to fill the four months vacancy.
"But in the end, the national team's performance under him will be counted," added Lipu.