Kolkata:The Orissa Cricket Association has roped in former India left-arm spinner Venkatapathy Raju as their chief coach for the 2008-09 Ranji season.
However, the availability of Raju, who is the South Zone selector in the Dilip Vengsarkar-chaired panel, will be known only after the BCCI's Annual General Meeting on September 27-28, which will decide whether the former India spinner gets an extension.
"If I don't get an extension, I'll be happy to take over the coaching of Orissa. So we have to wait till Septemeber 27," Raju said from Hyderabad.
In another boost to Orissa cricket, Vedanta Alumunium Limited will sponsor the state teams (men and women) at all age-group levels, OCA secretary Asirbad Behera said on Sunday.
Giving details about Raju's appointment, Behera said, "Being a former India player, having played in World Cup, Raju's experience will be a big advantage for Orissa. Besides experience, he (Raju) is a qualified Level-III BCCI coach.
"He's also very close to our president (Ranjib Biswal), so he is our automatic choice. We hope to get him as our chief coach."
Raju will replace Abakash Khatua, who helped the team to finish fourth in Group B of Ranji Super League last season.
Khatua, however, will be incharge of the fielding department, Behera added.
"Keeping in view the professionalism in cricket, from this season onwards we have appointed specialist coaches in all the three departments (batting, bowling and fielding). Our aim is to take Orissa cricket to a higher level," Behera said.