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Indian Niraj Odedra appointed Bermuda coach on short-term deal

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The Bermuda Cricket Board has appointed a little-known coach from India on an initial 2½-month contract, it has been reported by The Times of India.

Taking the reins: Niraj Odedra, left, has worked with India Test star Cheteshwar Pujara during his time at Saurashtra (Photograph courtesy of Niraj Odedra)

The services of Niraj Odedra have been secured with a view to qualifying for the T20 World Cup in 2024 in the West Indies and the United States.

Taking the reins: Niraj Odedra has agreed an initial contract with the Bermuda Cricket Board that will run from July 1 to September 15

The 47-year-old will temporarily leave his assistant coaching role with Saurashtra, one of three Ranji Trophy sides based in Gujarat on the western coast of India, to take up a contract that will run from Friday to September 15.

With Bermuda completing play at the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge B in Uganda this morning with a ten-wicket thrashing at the hands of Italy, it is not certain what the future holds for interim head coach Cal Waldron.

The BCB refused to comment formally on the matter until after the semi-annual meeting tomorrow, but The Royal Gazette understands the deal is just as good as done.

Odedra, who played 26 first-class games for Saurashtra between 1998 and 2003, has been the bowling and fielding coach since 2015.

During his tenure, the club, who compete in the first-class Ranji Trophy tournament as well as limited-overs Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy competitions, has enjoyed a strong progression, culminating in a maiden Ranji Trophy triumph in 2020.

Among those who have passed through Saurashtra with Odedra in a coaching capacity are Test stalwart Cheteshwar Pujuara, who is now an English county team-mate of Delray Rawlins at Sussex, and Ravindra Jadeja, the world No 1-ranked Test all-rounder.

While the club could not match that achievement this season, failing to reach the knockout stage of the tournament in a curtailed campaign, Saurashtra qualified for the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 knockout stage for the first time and reached the semi-finals in the 50-overs Vijay Hazare Trophy.

“It is a big responsibility and big honour to be part of Bermuda's national team,” Odedra told The Times of India. “I also thank the Saurashtra Cricket Association for letting me take up this huge opportunity in the off-season [in India].”

Odedra will be tasked with returning Bermuda to the global stage with the focus firmly on the 2024 T20 ICC showpiece in the United States.

Bermuda are 34th in the ICC T20 world rankings and last appeared at the highest level in 2007 in the Caribbean, losing all three games against Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh.

Odedra’s immediate focus will be preparing Bermuda for the regional qualifying tournament next year, when Canada will be the favourites.

“The main target will be to beat the likes of Canada, who will be our main rival in the qualifying competition,” he added.

But first Bermuda will need to emerge as one of the top three teams from a subregional qualifier against Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Panama and Surinam.

Dates for both the subregional and regional qualifiers have yet to be finalised, but must be played before the end of 2023.

Waldron’s interim role was meant to last to the end of the year. He was appointed to head up a team of four coaches, which includes Somerset Cricket Club stalwart Reggie Tucker, former Somerset Cup Match and Bermuda star Ricky Hill and consultant Elliot Wilson.

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Published June 28, 2022 at 7:33 am (Updated June 29, 2022 at 7:43 am)

Indian Niraj Odedra appointed Bermuda coach on short-term deal

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