What is it about Dav Whatmore and World Cups? First with Sri Lanka in 1996, where his team went all the way, then with Bangladesh where his team dumped Pakistan out of the 1999 World Cup and then more recently India were sent packing from the latest edition of the premier tournament, one in which Bangladesh also got the best of South Africa. Now, it’s the Indian under-19 team that has become the latest to benefit.
“The boys did all the hard work, my contribution was very minimal,” a typically understated Whatmore told the Hindustan Times from the middle of a raucous celebration at the Kinrara Oval.
But the coach wasn’t the least bit surprised by the latest win he has presided over.
“To be honest it did not come as a surprise at all when we won, because we were probably the best team in the competition. For sure we were the most consistent.”
Whatmore was all praise for the manner in which his unit had approached the competition. “It’s a youth team and these teams are always a work in progress. But the advantage this bunch had is that they have been playing together for about a year now,” said Whatmore, preferring not to single out any particular player for success.
“The thing that made the big difference was the strong desire these boys had to get ahead, to succeed and show what they were capable of. They are very serious about their cricket and have the talent to back it up as well. It all just came together really well.”
Even when pressed to pick out a bowler or batsman that stood out, in his estimation, Whatmore refused to do so. “What I’ve seen with this team is that it’s not as though one player has been responsible for getting all the wickets or getting all the runs,” he said, pointing to the fact that Turuwar Kohli, Virat Kohli and Tanmay Srivastava have all scored more than 200 runs while Iqbal Abdullah, Ravinder Jadeja and Siddharth Kaul all had 10 wickets apiece in the tournament, and Ajitesh Argal and Pradeep Sangwan scalped eight each.
“It’s not that we’re dependent just on one individual or the other. There’s been an even spread right through the tournament and that’s helped us pick things up and stay consistent.
India were no doubt helped along by the Duckworth-Lewis method which changed South Africa’s target from 160 off 50 overs to 116 off 25 overs. But Whatmore refused to take any credit away from his team. “Duckworth Lewis is now part of cricket and it’s been for a while. It’s just part and parcel of the game and you have to accept that. Whether you’re batting second or fielding second it could affect you. Sometimes it goes against you, sometimes it works for you, and sometimes it doesn’t change things at all.”