From left: Reji Cherian, CEO, Kricket’s Spero, Dav Whatmore and coach Pious Joseph during a press conference. Image Credit: Courtesy: Organiser

Dubai: Ever since his arrival as the chief coach last season, the South Indian state of Kerala has raised their performance graph significantly in the Ranji Trophy. Dav Whatmore, the celebrated Australian coach, is not satisfied with it though and wants the team to raise the bar higher.

“The sky should be the limit for them. The boys need to believe they can go all the way,” said Whatmore, who won the ICC World Cup with Sri Lanka in 1996. After making the quarter-finals last year under his supervision, Kerala are again sitting pretty this time — having upset Bengal and Delhi to sit in second spot in the table.

Speaking at the formal launch of Kricket’s Spero winter coaching camp where he is a visiting faculty, Whatmore agreed that Kerala can take heart from a recent phenomenon whereby unheralded teams such as Vidarbha, Saurashtra and Rajasthan have gone on to win this symbol of supremacy in India’s domestic cricket. “There are still two tough away league matches away to go, including Punjab which will be quite a handful,” he said.

“The team boasts of the likes of the battle-scarred Yuvraj Singh, Mandeep Singh, Shubman Gill and Mohit Sharma. The comfortable tag of underdogs is wearing off gradually from us and this increases the pressure on the team to do well.”

Asked to take his pick among the players who are making a difference in Kerala’s campaign, Whatmore named Jalaj Saxena, the all-rounder who has been picked up by Delhi Capitals in the recent IPL auction.

“Sachin Baby has got a few big hundreds while the seam bowling revolves around young Basil Thampi, who can work out a lively pace and Sandeep Warrior, a consistent customer even in long spells,” he said.

The Kricket Spero coaching camp, which got under way at the Al Nasr Club premises on December 16, will run until the end of the year though Whatmore will be physically present until December 22. The particular camp, which will offer coaching in two age groups of Under-12 and senior boys, promises to lay special focus on “fitness, endurance and strengthening and endurance”.

Two of the Spero products, according to Whatmore, Varun Nayanar and Aditya Prakash, have started to make their mark with Kerala junior teams. “Varun has scored two centuries in Vijay Merchant Trophy along with a double century in Cooch Behar Trophy,” he said. “The contribution of the dedicated coaching team at Kricket Spero has played its role behind their development and I will be lending my expertise and experience too.”