Whatmore hopes to ‘jazz up’ Kerala cricket as head coach

The Australian, who has coached the national teams of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, sees his new assignment as a different challenge.

“Nobody can question [Dav Whatmore], he has so much experience,” says Jayesh George.   -  M. Vedhan

Dav Whatmore has coached Sri Lanka to the 1996 World Cup title and has worked with the national teams of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The Australian now sees his new assignment, as the head coach of the Kerala Ranji Trophy team, as a different challenge.

“There must be many wondering why I’ve come down to this level after coaching national teams. But getting into ‘development’ has always excited me, I’ve always wanted to do this,” said the Colombo-born former Australian Test cricketer, in a media interaction, at the Nehru Stadium here on Saturday.

The 63-year-old will first have look at a young bunch of Kerala players who travel to Chennai, where the Australian trains promising players at the Sri Ramachandra University’s CSS Whatmore Centre for Cricket, and will take full charge of the Kerala Ranji team in September.

From his early reading of the game in Kerala and from the initial inputs of the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA), Whatmore felt that the State players had a few psychological hurdles to overcome. “From what I gather in this very early stage, the team goes far but is unable to take the last step to realise victory. The fact that they have gone so far suggests that they have talent and skill,” he said.

“Cricket, as you know, once competition begins, it’s all in the head. If we can increase the players’ knowledge and relieve stress, when there are stressful situations, they will be in a much better position to get ahead and improve their performance.”

He said Kerala had a strong sporting culture and the game just needed a ‘jazz up’ here. “With Kerala, certainly I would say that the talent is here, you’ve already got four boys playing in IPL squads, you’ve got a tremendous group of fast bowlers, some good batsmen, spinners, they need to be trained to lift their performance in competitions,” said Whatmore.

“I’d like to bring in ways of extracting extra effort in performance on a more consistent basis. We want to jazz it up, we want Kerala to have more success.”

You are what you are

Many national teams, including Sri Lanka, have come up an attacking brand of cricket under Whatmore. Will he work out something similar here?

“If you’ve got the right personnel, yes. But it depends on the players. Each person is who he is and you can’t attempt to be somebody different,” he explained. “If you’ve got talent, then I think due consideration would be given to having that player be the best he can be in the way he plays. That will make sense.”

The KCA has invited the selectors, former Ranji captains and some prominent players for a cricket development meeting in Kochi on Sunday. Many further decisions, including Whatmore’s support staff, will be decided after that.