When the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) three-man committee endorsed Dav Whatmore’s name for the position of head coach, it opted for someone who was not only adamant about getting the job, but also had clear rules about when to jump ship.
“I really do want to be consistent, I’m about winning,” Whatmore told Abu Dhabi’s The National. “I don’t want to be involved with teams that are not having good times. I really need to enjoy what I am doing, work hard and enjoy the performances of the boys. They work their bums off to get wickets and runs, catches, and that gives me a real big boost and then the result comes that you want and that’s what I want.”
Second time lucky
Whatmore’s appointment came a few weeks after Pakistan had humbled the top Test nation England in the UAE. He replaced the interim coach Mohsin Khan who won every Test series he was with the team for. With Pakistan enjoying an unprecedented run, and Whatmore having been snubbed once in the past, questions were asked from not only the committee but the coach as well.
“I didn’t have any second thoughts. But I would’ve preferred to have signed earlier. I was confident enough in my own ability when compared to previous foreign coaches. The experience has been positive. It’s a familiar experience, not all that different over the years to the different countries I have lived in. It’s a very interesting chapter in my life.”
The grooming of Umar Akmal
Whatmore’s job ranges from taking Pakistan forward as a winning unit to picking emerging talent, one that would comprise the national team in the future. He was also handed the additional burden of uniting the dressing room, identifying Misbahul Haq’s successors and grooming youngsters part of the playing-eleven, notably Umar Akmal.
“I sympathise with Umar a bit because I was exactly the same. The difficulty with people like Umar is that it’s harder for them to understand the game because they have all the shots, compared to others who are restricted and know what they can and can’t do.
“Blokes like Umar have the hardware. One thing you need to do is increase the ability of the software to really be able to play one ball at a time knowing you can play every shot in the book. That’s a difficulty. He’ll need to be carefully guided and given confidence because people like him are match-winners and if they can turn around and get some consistency, it makes a huge difference.”
“Misbah is still the man’
There was also a resounding backing of Misbah, as captain and a player, by Whatmore despite criticism of his defensive approach to limited-overs batting and captaincy given his fear of losing.
“He’s a big thinker, very solid personality. He doesn’t go to extremes. He’s very stable in his outlook. He doesn’t get carried away too much when you lose or win. That is a very good thing, to be stable in your emotions. Being a good thinker, that really helps from a leadership point of view. In fairness, he may think a number of things quite strongly about certain players but it’s not communicated. The communication is always positive and that is a very good thing.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2012.