Sunday, October 24
03:32 PM

‘Oman have the potential to spring a surprise’

20 Sep 2021 By ASHOK PUROHIT

Muscat – Victories at the World Cup and a title glory at the highest level is something this man not only knows about but has experienced the sheer joy of holding the ultimate trophy in his own hands. Dav Whatmore is no stranger to World Cup and cricket and the respect the journeyman coach has earned around the world over the past 25 years is underlined by the success of his career.

The Sri Lanka-born former Australian Test cricketer guided Sri Lanka to World Cup glory in 1996 and then was coach of the India’s U19 team when they boys, led by current India skipper Virat Kohli, won the U19 World Cup in Malaysia. Since the early 1990s, he has coached national teams of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Singapore and Nepal.

Whatmore, who has an illustrious coaching career, is currently in Muscat and formally ended his tenure as Nepal coach on Sunday with his team giving him a fitting farewell gift by defeating hosts Oman in the World Cricket League (WCL) 2 at the Oman Academy Cricket Ground.

The match marked the culmination of Whatmore’s tenure and he now heads to India where he is set to become the head coach of Baroda Ranji Trophy team.

In an exclusive chat with Muscat Daily on Monday, ahead of his departure to the western state of Ahmedabad in India, Whatmore spoke at length on various issues but began by wishing hosts Oman good luck for the forthcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

The 67-year-old experienced coach said, “We have to doff our hats on what Oman has achieved in recent times.

“They have qualified for the T20 World Cup for the second time and have risen high in world rankings. So to achieve it means they have something that suits their play in the shortest format.

“What I have seen with this 50-over side, which I have been told is the core for the T20 World Cup, they are also a bit more power-oriented squad.
“Of course, they are a bit of an ageing side. They have a power game, technically suited more for T20 and a bit for 50-over game. Like most Associates, the players lack little ability to be patient in the middle of the game. They have a reasonable attack and with return of allrounder Khawar Ali for the World Cup, they will have a decent attack.

“If the opposition lowers their guard, then they will get punched by Oman. So, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some results go in favour of Oman at the T20 World Cup.”

Bangladesh, the side which he coached for four years and guided them to a historic win against India in the Cricket World Cup in 2007, Scotland and Papua New Guinea (PNG) are pooled with Oman in the first round Group B and the top-two will advance to Super 12s.

Whatmore said, “Oman stand a chance, and why not, a good chance. They have the advantage of playing at home and in their own conditions. The recent T20 series victory over Mumbai will also give them a good confidence. It would be great for Associate nations like Oman to make an impact at the upcoming World Cup.”

He praised the efforts of Oman Cricket (OC) chairman Pankaj Khimji, OC secretary Madhu Jesrani and OC’s chief development officer and head coach Duleep Mendis in the growth of the game.
“Pankaj and Madhu, have done an amazing job for Oman Cricket and with Duleep’s deep knowledge, Oman have progressed well,” he said.

Bats for Associates

The Australian, who has now settled in Sri Lanka, the country of his birth, was emphatic in seeking more support for Associate nations in the ICC.

“The Associate nations need to be given more opportunities at the top-level. I do know there will be a mis-match when the heavyweights take on Associate nations. But ICC should give them the chance to develop.

“Associates need to be supported more by the ICC. I have been with Nepal for less than a year but given the enthusiasm and the talent among the players, I think ICC should show a bit more care. Of course, there is a cost involved, but by supporting it is keeping the game healthy across the world.

“There should be more encouragement and little bit more professionalism. Like in this ongoing WCL 2 tri-series here in Muscat, it is strange that there is no option of a decision review system (DRS). We need to limit the on-field errors.”
Whatmore was satisfied with his stint with Nepal and said though it is ‘always a sad feeling’ to leave, as a professional coach, this is ‘how life is and the nature of the beast’.

He said, “I was there with Nepal for around nine months. I take away good memories.

“We didn’t have many games to play but I am overall satisfied with how the team progressed. We had a decent outing here in the WCL 2, winning two and losing two.
“The game on Sunday against Oman was good and intense and the boys did well in the win against the USA.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the potential of players in Nepal where there in no proper mainstream domestic competition. Recently, the team has climbed up the ICC ladder. There have been major contributions from Paras Khadka (former
skipper) and Gyanendra Malla (Nepal captain), who were instrumental in their rise.”

Whatmore added, “The main frustration for me in Nepal was lack of competitions.”

WI power-hitters

With the T20 World Cup to begin at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground on October 17, Whatmore said that the T20 global showpiece is a volatile competition and predictions on who would be favourites are
difficult to make.

“Once the early games begin we would get to know about the trend and it is better to speak about the favourites then. This format is all about power hitters, and for me, holders West Indies are right up there.
“West Indies do well in power game. With hitters like skipper Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, they have enough power on their side.”

Whatmore agreed that India will also be one of the favoured teams as the players are now competing in the IPL in the UAE, the venue for the T20 World Cup.

“That will certainly help and they are a strong side along with England and New Zealand. Australia can’t be counted out but it is a format where a lot matters who plays better on that day.”

© 2021 Apex Press and Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Mesdac