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A coach is as good as his team

It's the players who have to perform and a coach is helpless if the team does not deliver, writes Atul Sondhi.

cricket Updated: Apr 05, 2007 00:13 IST

Greg Chappell's appointment came after John Wright's eventful tenure which had seen India winning against Pakistan in Pakistan, almost beating Australia in Australia after thrashing them in India, and reaching the final of the World Cup. However, they lost a big home series to Australia in 2004.

It was believed that the Aussies would further boost the Indian fortunes and briefly he did look like doing precisely that. But then you are just as good as your team is. Ultimately the players have to go and perform and a coach is helpless if the team does not deliver. The biggest examples of this are Dave Whatmore and Bob Woolmer.

Dave Whatmore had enjoyed tremendous success with the Sri Lankan team, taking them to a world title. A team, which was till early nineties an outfit which had mostly flattered to deceive, had suddenly threatened to become a world beating side, and did deliver on the promise in 1996.

In Tests, the Lankans had a success rate approaching 50s, and in ODIs, powered by the collective genius of Whatmore and Ranatunga, it won a staggering two out of every three matches played.

Dave Whatmore's record with Sri Lanka
Tests
ODIs
Played
47
134
Won
22
82
Lost
17
42
Drawn/Tied
8
4/2
Won%
46.81
61.19


Contrast this with what he has done with Bangladesh. Just one win in tests off 25 played under him. ODIs are much better with 38.55 as the win percentage.

Dave Whatmore's record with Bangladesh
Tests
ODIs
Played
25
83
Won
1
32
Lost
21
51
Drawn/Tied
3
0/0
Won%
4.00
38.55

However, in ODIs, contrast the performance of Bangladesh against Major nations - it straightaway comes down to a sorry 4 wins out of 47 matches! Again a win percentage of less than ten under Whatmore.

Whatmore's coaching record with Bangladesh (against major nations and minnows)
Mts
Won
Lost
NR
Won%
v Zim, Scotland, Kenya, Bermuda, Canada
36
28
8
0
77.77
v other countries
47
4
43
0
8.51

These four wins in four years include one against Australia, one against Sri Lanka and two against India, including the upset win in the 2007 World Cup.

Is Whatmore no longer the same coach? Well, he still continues to be a top quality coach, only that he is in charge of a team, which does not posses that quality.

Let's take Woolmer. The highly successful coach of the South African side in the nineties. The contrast is apparent. With South Africa, he was winning every second match and the performance would have been even better had he not faced Australia so many times.

With Pakistan, the success had come down to just one out of every three matches. Now, Bob was much more experienced and accomplished when he took over the reigns of Pakistan, but the talent at his disposal was simply not up to the mark. The commitment which the South Africans had shown was simply lacking.

Bob Woolmer's record as a coach ( in Tests)
South Africa
Pakistan
Period
1994-99
2004-07
Tests
44
28
Won
21
10
Lost
9
11
Drawn
14
7
Won%
47.72
35.71

This difference also gets highlighted in the ODIs. With South Africa, Woolmer was winning seven out of every ten matches while with Pakistan, the figure had came down to one win out of every two matches.
Bob Woolmer's record as a coach (in ODIs)
South Africa
Pakistan
ODIs
117
69
Won
83
37
Lost
30
29
No result
3
3
Tied
1
0
Won%
70.94
53.62

So two factors become very important while assessing the coaches. First of all, foreign coaches are very much dependent on interpreters in the subcontinent considering many players are from non-English background. Understanding is difficult, and by the time players tends to learn what coach wants to say, the initial damage is done. Vested interests do tend to get created in such a situation.

Second, the foreign coaches are very much strategy conscious and in their scheme of things, individuals, however great, and instincts take the back seat. This makes the players from the subcontinent extremely uncomfortable. Here the strategies usually revolve around stars.

Greg has been the victim of this. This in spite of the fact that his performance with India has been as good as that of Woolmer's with Pakistan.

Chappell vs Woolmer
Win-Loss in Tests
Win% in Tests
Win-Loss in ODIs
Win% in ODIs
Chappell with India
7-4
38.89
32-27
51.61
Woolmer with Pakistan
10-11
35.71
37-29
53.62

So why blame Chappell? He has not done less than what any other could have done with this Indian team.

But then, victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.