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‘Indians hold the key in Indian Premier League’

Dav Whatmore has enjoyed success as coach of Sri Lanka and Lancashire and seen how it’s like at the bottom of the table when he was with Bangladesh.

cricket Updated: Jan 16, 2010 00:01 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

Dav Whatmore has enjoyed success as coach of Sri Lanka and Lancashire and seen how it’s like at the bottom of the table when he was with Bangladesh. After two-and-a-half years as director of the National Cricket Academy, the Australian is back as the coach of a team.

The task is enormous — to pull the beleaguered Kolkata Knight Riders out of the rut that they find themselves in after two seasons of the Indian Premier League. Whatmore spoke to HT on the sidelines of a conditioning camp of the Knights on Friday. Excerpts.

This team looked beaten in the first two years and there was also the case of the coach being sacked. What prompted you to take up the challenge?
I was hungry to return to hands-on coaching, regardless of whether the team concerned is doing well or not. So when the opportunity came, I took it. I doesn’t matter to me how the team did in the past. My job is to help this team improve and that’s why I have taken it up.

The Knight Riders have
struggled with their batting. How do you plan to address the
problem?
We have made a few changes since last season. Cheteshwar Pujara was injured last time and has come back. We have taken Manoj Tiwary. Both are seasoned domestic players and then we have (Ganapathy) Vignesh from one of the ICL teams. That gives the batting a better look. We must strengthen the side when it comes to recruiting Indian players because four foreigners in a way cancel out each other. To do well in the IPL, a team needs its Indian players to perform. They hold the key.

How does the unpredictability of the T20 format change the role of a coach?
It can be frustrating at times. One has to get rid of emotion and focus on the principles he believes in. The task involves mingling with a wide cross-section of cricketers, which makes this job different from other coaching assignments. One has to cope with different cultures and handle big personalities. The job is exciting as well as daunting.

Does this format demand
radical strategies like multiple
captains?
Not in this environment. We are very clear with where we stand. We have one captain and everyone is positive to play under him.

The IPL is not just cricket. There is a lot of glamour and commerce involved. How are you coping with that?
People talk about these things, but I just do my job, which is to confine myself to cricketing matters. Of course, I interact with the players and team owners. But at the end of the day, my job is to ensure that we are well prepared when the tournament begins.

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