Whatmore: Hardware is there, but software needs fine-tuning

Dav Whatmore is just two games into his new assignment, but the World-Cup winning coach has already been able to infuse a sense of positivity in the Kerala cricket team. 

The Sri Lankan-born Australian said he was happy with the pool of the players he is given.   -  P. K. Ajith Kumar

Dav Whatmore is just two games into his new assignment, but the World-Cup winning coach has already been able to infuse a sense of positivity in the Kerala cricket team. After beating last year’s semifinalist Jharkhand inside three days at Thiruvananthapuram, the Sachin Baby-led side put up a strong fight against defending champion Gujarat in an away match before going down by four wickets.

But for an inadequate display with the bat in the first innings, Kerala could have even turned the table on its formidable rival. Whatmore isn’t happy with that effort, though. “A coach is never happy, he wants to win by 10 wickets or an innings all the time,” he told Sportstar shortly after Kerala’s loss at Nadiad a few days ago.

“But, this team is moving in the right direction, especially if you look at the history.”

Breaking the shackles

Indeed. It is for the first time in a decade that Kerala could begin its campaign in the Ranji Trophy with a victory. “There is a lot of potential in this team,” said the man who guided Sri Lanka to an unexpected World Cup victory in 1996.

“The hardware is there, but the software needs to be finetuned. Skills and techniques can be worked on during the training sessions, but once the competition starts, it is all in the mind.” He said he was looking forward to the rest of the season with a lot of enthusiasm. “I have identified the areas to be improved; we need to work especially on batting,” he said.

“This season is of course going to be tough because we have to play against some very strong teams unlike last year, when the elite sides were grouped separately.”

The Sri Lankan-born Australian said he was happy with the pool of the players he was given. “I have a good working relation with chief selector K. Jayaram,” he said. “I hope to have similar relations with other selectors as well.”

Pack of pacers

He feels Kerala has a good battery of pace bowlers. “We have only been able to use only two of them – Sandeep Warrier and M.D. Nidheesh -- so far,” he said. “I thought Nidheesh bowled really well against Gujarat and we are looking forward to Basil Thampi joining the team. And then there is K.M. Asif, who is waiting patiently for his chance; he is quite quick.”

About the team’s most gifted batsman, Sanju Samson, he said all he needed was consistency to move up to the next level. “He is already on the minds of the national selectors, isn’t he?” he said. “He is an exceptional talent; totally in a class of his own. Often, when you are so gifted, you play all the shots, unlike others who have limited talents. At some point, he will get real consistency.”

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