Sport: Sudden exit leaves 'sour taste' for PNG cricket coach

1:21 pm on 11 July 2017

Dipak Patel says his abrupt departure as Papua New Guinea cricket coach has left a "sour taste" in his mouth.

The former New Zealand international had been in charge for three years, leading the Barramundis to their first four-day and ODI victories and 16th place in the World T20 rankings.

Patel's contract was due to expire at the end of next month but he said a new deal had been agreed to before Cricket PNG informed him ten days ago that his tenure was over.

"I didn't really have a lot of time - I suppose it didn't really sink in, didn't give me that opportunity to be honest with you - the fact that I was just given a weeks notice to terminate my contract," he said.

"Obviously they had another coach in mind and probably the coach had already agreed to take over...but I would have probably liked a little bit more time to just say goodbye to the players.

"They've very special to me and they will always be very close to me. Certainly I've left with some very fond memories."

PNG Barramundis coach Dipak Patel.

Former PNG Barramundis coach Dipak Patel. Photo: Cricket PNG

The Barramundis last competitive match was in the United Arab Emirates in April and they're not scheduled to play against until the end of August.

Patel said he recently had to return home to New Zealand for family reasons, but had left under the assumption that signing his contract extension was a formality.

"They had presented me an extension until the end of December, which I was very happy with," he said.

"And I actually agreed on it and the CEO and the Chairman agreed on it too, which is where it starts to leave a very sour taste in my mouth anyway."

"I haven't been given anything in writing in an official letter or anything. It was just a couple of phone-calls and a couple of emails, very vague," Patel said.

"...The extension that was presented to me I certainly put two conditions in place which were very realistic - nothing untoward.

"But they've given me reasons that because I was going to be away from Cricket PNG they couldn't afford to continue with my contract.

"I don't think that's right because I think they've got it all wrong."

Lega Siaka celebrates scoring his maiden first class century against the UAE.

Lega Siaka celebrates scoring his maiden first class century against the UAE. Photo: Cricket PNG

Patel said he was still receiving messages from the Barramundis players, many of whom have taken to social media to express their support and show thanks to their outgoing coach.

"Under the limited resources that are available - not only to myself as the head coach but to the players - to achieve what they have done to date and what they could do is two different things.

"That's the most disappointing part, certainly from my perspective but I'm sure it is for the players themselves."

"They're such hard-working people. I don't think I've ever coached [such dedicated players] at any levels - international, first-class, school cricket - they're just hard working athletes - which is very unusual.

"They just love playing cricket and working hard to become better. That's what stands out to me the most and I felt that we were heading in the right direction in making them more professional."

The Barramundis team during their Intercontinental Cup match against Namibia.

The Barramundis team during an Intercontinental Cup 4-day match against Namibia last year. Photo: Cricket PNG

Patel said he would like to think a resolution could still be worked out between him and Cricket PNG, but said it was unlikely.

In different circumstances he said he would love to return to PNG and work with the Barramundis players and the organisation in future.

"I don't want to finish on a negative - I've left PNG with some very fond memories and that's what stands out, not the negative side of it."

Cricket PNG CEO Greg Campbell declined to comment on Patel's departure but said the national body would explain their side of the story later this week.