Dubai: Dav Whatmore, the coaching guru from Australia, has been cricket’s equivalent of a Phil Scolari or Guus Hiddink in football.
A journeyman coach who had plied his trade across several cricket playing countries — seen the high as a World Cup winner with Sri Lanka and faced the lows very recently — when Zimbabwe dumped him rather unceremoniously after a poor show in the last World T20 in 2016.
The sense of hurt at the manner of his sacking from the last international assignment was too deep — so much so that the veteran coach had expressed his reluctance about taking up any international assignment again. More than two years down the line, Whatmore is ready to reconsider his decision though. “Yes, at that time I was disillusioned but it’s a case of never say never again. I was persuaded to throw in my hat in the ring for the coach’s post of Indian women’s team now — only to learn later that I was found overage being over 60 years of age. Mentally and physically though, I feel no more than 50,” Whatmore told Gulf News in an exclusive chat recently.
Life has not been any less hectic though for the pragmatic Whatmore, who has been doubling up as the head of Sri Ramachandra Arthroscopy and Sports Science Centre (SRASSC) in Chennai for the last two years as well as the coach of Kerala state team — with the latter showing a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes for the last two seasons.
“A part of my agreement with the university is that I will be released for any domestic assignment and this has allowed me to take charge of Kerala. I have been criss-crossing India with them and it’s been an enjoyable experience so far though I don’t know how long I will do this,” said Whatmore, who was here to oversee a winter camp for the Kcricket Spero Academy.
As someone who had been in charge of at least four national teams — Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Whatmore has handled his share of superstars.
Asked what would be the ideal recipe for a coach in dealing with international players, the Australian felt it should vary with the group and backed the approach of Ravi Shastri, the current Indian head coach.
“If you are dealing with a team like India, it’s got to be more of man management duty — where the coach should be able to foster a good, healthy environment. At the same time, there has got to be feedback to the players as to where they were going wrong.
“Ravi (Shastri) is driving the ship well and he has got a good support team as (Bharat) Arun is an experienced bowling coach. At the end of the day, it’s got to be bit of a tough love between the player and coach. However, if the team is of a lower age group then you need to act like a parent. I would say follow your own gut,” Whatmore said.
The relationship between the coach and captain has been often a contentious one in recent times, as the fallout between Indian captain Virat Kohli and the now deposed Anil Kumble showed last year.
Asked about his take on the issue, Whatmore was more watchful: “I only know what I read about it. It’s about a bit of perception than being judgemental — I think you may need to speak to the players to find out about then (under Kumble) and now.”
The flourishing world of T20 franchise leagues may have opened up a big window of opportunity for coaches, but Whatmore has not been a significant part of it in recent times — his only assignment in Indian Premier League being a stint with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011-12. “You see, all the good coaches are busy with round-the-year jobs and often not free for such leagues. I am also worried about the quantity of players retiring from other formats. Initially, they say they want to spend time with the family but move on to these leagues again,” he added with a wry smile.