Welcome to exclusive chat at the CricInfo with Dav Whatmore. Dav as you all know is the highly successful coach of the Sri Lankan team. Dav galvanised a varied group of talented cricketers into a fighting unit and took them to the pinnacle of one day cricket - a World Cup victory.
A fact that not too many people know is that Dav was also an accomplished cricketer himself, playing 13 years in the Sheffield Shield. He also represented Australia in Test cricket.
Prabath Fonseka, Deepal Saram, Raz - Why did you have to leave Sri Lanka after the world cup victory in 1996?
Whatmore - Basically my decision to leave was as a result of my family. That was a sad situation. As a family we try to be together as much as possible, unfortunately that wasn't the case. There was an interested party in England. The first year in England was a learning curve for me, it is a terrific place for a coach. They play so much cricket over a 5 month period, you learn
Paul Spencer and Chaminda Wickremasuriya - How difficult a decision was it to decide to go back to managing Sri Lanka, bearing in mind you were halfway through the 99 season with Lancashire?
Whatmore - The second year, the Lancashire cricket committee told me that it was the most successful year in their club's history. It wasn't all that difficult, I still have some feelings about English cricket. The opportunity arose again for me to comeback because the situation that existed in 1996 was no longer there. I always felt drawn back. I was born in Sri Lanka and have my roots there. I enjoy working with the players there. When the opportunity arose again, I had a discussion with my wife and we decided that we'd give it another go. We made a conscious decision to come back and I'm glad we did. We're all together and happy. The cricket results have also helped.
Rajith Kannangara, Mike, Arshad A Bhatti and Lakshminarasimhan - During the 96 world cup the SL team adopted the strategy of attacking from the very first ball. What strategies do you plan to adopt during WC 2003 in SA.
Whatmore - Just to get the 1996 one out of the road, the five batsmen to follow the openers were experienced players and could get a 100. We talked of the team being two wickets down with not too much runs The situation would always arise. The comforting thing is that the next 5 batsmen to follow were experienced players and could get a 100. In 2003, the World Cup is in South Africa where the conditions are different and to the 1999 Cup.
I'll be able to have a look at the conditions later this year. The ball will bounce a lot more, perhaps it won't favour spin. It will bounce more. The selectors will have to think carefully along those lines before picking the final fourteen. The venues are all different, the subcontinent, South Africa and England
Pradeepa de Silva, Maheshi, Harish - Knowing your team is full of stars and they themselves have vast experience, how do you go about advising and coaching them?
Whatmore - Definitely the more experienced a player is in a group, the more you have to treat them differently. They've been around and have a lot to offer in their own right. You have to be aware of the situation and be able to communicate effectively and differently as you'd do with the younger ones. We find that the guys in the side are team oriented.
Chandra - It is good to see more talented young cricketers from outside Colombo in the pools. Are you satisfied with current screening or is there a lot of room left to give the facilities to the underpriledged areas of Sri Lanka and pick more talents?
Whatmore - Under the current format, you cant have any team going undefeated We will lose games. It depends on how individuals react to those games. Judging by the way some of the younger players have performed so quickly, the screening process is fairly successful.The younger players who have come into the side have come from places down South, the suburbs and towns and have done well. There are a lot more with great potential. Those boys will have to prove themselves in the main competition where the performances will be assessed and selections made.
We have the A team squad training hard and playing against the Zimbabwe A team. We had the Under 19 World Cup in January and a lot of those boys have graduated into the A team. We also have an Under 15 squad working hard to play in the Cup in England later this year. Together with the bowling academy recently created, headed by Mr Darrell Foster from Western Australia, I think we are on the right path to keep track of these players, develop them and we hope that they will absorb the information and put it into practice to put pressure on the existing players.
Upul N. Liyanapathiranage - "A Good cricketer is always a good coach" Is That True?
Whatmore - By and large I would agree with it. Good cricketers would be inquisitive. You want to know the reasons behind it. A brilliant cricketer, in my experience, would do without really thinking because it happens naturally to him.
A good cricketer is I think one who would find out why things happen and what he is actually doing to give you the result. So I would agree with it.
Obaid Seer - What did you think about the World Cup '96 format, in which the semi finalists were basically decided in two days after playing almost unimportant preliminary round games.
Whatmore - Certainly the format of that world cup was different. Now it appears as though you need to play more games to qualify. I'm not certain it is 100% right but it was difficult. In the 1996 world cup, the last few games were spaced too close to each other without much time for recovery. We had to play within the rules and it certainly was a lot less games. If you win the world cup, you have to be happy about it. There is a marked difference now with the frequency of games.
Sheridan Levy - What major muscles, joints and muscles fibre types used. What is the most common injury associated with Cricket (why the injury occurs, treatment and prevention)?
Whatmore - The most common injury is a soft tissue injury. By and large, 90% of them are preventable. Generally we're looking at the bigger muscle groups like the legs, hamstrings, quadraceps, calves, weight bearing joints ankle joints, kneebones etc. to a lesser degree which have a lot of stress placed on them. In a day you play 6 hours, in a test it's 5 days in a row . There is a lot of wear and tear A player has to be extremely careful to prevent the injuries from recurring. There has to be a lot of energy in that strength and training area. You have to increase your range of movements and be able to prevent common injury types.
S.Jagadish & Asanka de Silva - Sri Lanka has not had a good bowling attack for a while now, barring Vaas and Murali. What steps are being taken to solve this problem because test matches are mostly won by the bowlers?
Whatmore - Slightly disagree with the comment because I feel that the attack has improved. We have Vaas and one of the best spinners, Murali. They are very well supported by medium pace seam bowlers. There aren't that many bowlers who can boast of a test hat trick like Zoysa
Zoysa has tremendous potential and can be a good cricketer for a long period of time. Wickremasinghe is very experienced and he is backing them up.
If we can bowl as a team, it causes the pressure on the opposition. The chances will then be taken, So I'd say that we are an improving bowling attack capable of restricting the opposition and bowling them out
Owen Jones - Is the standard of county cricket as bad as everyone says? Who in your opinion, are the best young players in county cricket?
Whatmore - I've had 2 1/2 years experience as head coach with Lancashire. I've seen some matches which weren't all that good to watch. The standard does vary from club to club With the new divisional scheme, a lot of matches which may have been just been dull draws, now the teams will play hard to fight and draw/win it because teams in division 2 are trying to get to division 1 and the teams in division 1 are trying to stay there. The intensity with which the games will be played in England is much higher. The competition between the clubs, some of the teams fall away with skill. That prompts people to view that county cricket is pretty bad.
In some instances it isn't too wrong. There are lot of young players in the game. Often it's difficult to isolate the ones who have a real desire to play for their country. Number one happened to be playing at Lancashire, it isn't a biased statement. The England selectors obviously agree by placing Flintoff on contract. He has tremendous potential and is showing glimpses of his form.
Vikram Solanki is a wonderful player. He too has a chance of a good player in the oneday game. Chris Schofield is a good young leg spinner, so there are good yougsters around. Kent has a couple of good opening batsmen. Ultimately it comes down to how badly the individual wants to take the next step. It is a real test for a selector to identify and give the chances
Pradeep.V - Is Jayasuriya the best choise as the future SriLankan captain possibly for World Cup 2003? Does the SriLankan team perform best under him?
Whatmore - The short answer is it depends on the selectors. Captaining an international team is a very difficult job. Not so much on the field with millions watching. But handling a group and being a leader off the field is more important and demanding. Sanath has improved with every match. Some may hold the view that his batting suffered with his being appointed captain.
That may be true but he is coming out of it very nicely. He is settling into that role much better. I can only see Sanath going from strength to strength. He has a lot of leadership qualities and is a team man. I wouldn't be surprised if he is the captain in 2003.
Asif Ahmed - Would Donald Bradman have been able to average 99.96 in the present era if he were facing the likes of: Ambrose, Warne, Waqar, Akram, Donald, Mcgrath, Murali, Pollock
Whatmore - I think the Don was an unbelievable batsman, which ever way you look at it. He was the best there ever was. Cricket has changed over the years.
Zubin - How do I play the yorker?
Whatmore - The yorker is a very difficult ball, especially if directed at the feet. The bat will move a lot quicker to the ball if the feet are still. If you are in your stance with the bat in your hand and provided the ball isn't directed at your toenail, you should just move the bat without moving the larger body parts, the legs.
Jeyasingh Devanesan - Lanka de Silva looked like a promising talent. What has happened of him?
Whatmore - Lanka was around in 1995 when I first came to Sri Lanka. He is still there, nothing has happened to him. I think the reason the wicketkeepers haven't had the exposure is because Kaluwitharana has done well enough to hold his spot. Lanka continues to be a good player, he went with the Sri Lanka A team to South Africa. He now has to fight very hard for his position with other wicketkeepers like Prasanna Jayawardene and Kumara coming in. He has his work cut out. I can assure people that he hasn't been forgotten and he is putting pressure on Kaluwitharana.
Tylan - In your personal opinion, do you think that South Africa, within the next ten or so years, with the influx of black cricketers, will dominate world cricket like the West Indies?
Whatmore - The black community in South Africa are the majority, there haven't been that many black cricketers in the national side. They have been encouraged to play a lot in the provinces. I've had a personal relationship with Western Province and they encourage a lot of the coloured cricketers. There will be more percentage of coloured cricketers playing. If they are good enough then they will play. I'm sure if you asked any of them they'd say that they would like to represent only if they are good enough. Merit is the only criterion.
Aditya Pathak - Is it easy to be a coach?
Whatmore - Sometimes it is very easy. Other times it is very difficult, you have to understand the role of a coach. To summarise it, the coach's role cross references a number of areas. The technical side, the biomechanical side, the nutritional side, the physiology and the tactical side of things. One needs to have a basic knowledge of them without being an expert necessarilyin each of them. You have to be able to identify the problems for players. You have to go and find the answers. I thoroughly enjoy working with people in a sport I love.
Henry Arkwright - When a player in your team is lacking confidence, how do you go about restoring it so that he plays to the best of his ability ? As a coach, what sort of things will you say to him during net sessions etc?
Whatmore - That is a very important aspect of a coach. There are many instanecs where players are down on confidence. When a player is down, it is a real test to build the player up and reverse the situation. To me, the main thing is to establish that there is a genuine caring attitude. If there is a good basis of trust, that's half the battle won.
To achieve the result, there is a little flaw in technique which is worrying the individual. A failure here and there creates huge problems in his mind. What I would do is to identify what he thinks may be the problem, work with him and give him the confidence back.
If that is the case, the next step is to clear the mind. In sport or business, we create lots of things in the mind, the secret is to clear the mind of all the unnecessary thoughts which clog up the primary decision making.
Dan Ruparel - Do you incorporate weight training (with free weights) in your coaching program? If so, do you focus on certain specific routines? or a general development regimen?
Whatmore - We tend to specialise our strength training depending on the strength you bring to the team. Bowlers need a specific training, wicket keepers need a lot of leg training and speed. Free weights is always a good way and a number of machines can be used.
The big advantage is that you can't really cheat that much. Basically the weight that you are pushing and isolating the muscle group you are working on. We have a regime, it does change depending on the skill of the player.
Anand - You spoke with a bit of passion about Sri Lankan cricket, enjoying your stint there. If you had to pick another team to coach, who would it be.
Whatmore - That is an unfair Anand, the position of a coach in cricket is much more recognized. The coach, whether he is employed with a particular country, to do the job properly you need to direct a lot of energy into that job. I can honestly say that I put in as much effort into the Lancashire job as with Sri Lanka. It would be consistent if I went elsewhere. It doesnt really matter, the position is what I think is most important.
Anand - Very soon the Asia Cup comes up, lets talk a bit about Indian cricket. Who are the stars, the guys you'll be looking out for.
Whatmore - Tendulkar obviously, he is an outstanding batsman, number one in the World. When the Indian team contains Tendulkar he is a worry, a prized wicket. There are other players who are very good. Javagal Srinath may be underrated by some but certainly stands very high in my opinion. He is very skilled. Kumble is another one, great competitor as a batsman or a bowler. Add in the talents of Ganguly, Dravid and the nucleus of a team which would definitely do well. In my opinion I believe that the talent is there, no Anand. But getting the talent out and playing as a group sometimes doesn't come out as well as you hope it would.
Anand - The under-19 World cup in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka made it to the finals. There was some good talent there. Some were pushed up to the next grade. Who are the exciting youngsters to watch out for ?
Whatmore - Sri Lanka played very well to beat Pakistan and were unsuccessful in the final against India. There are a few young players. The offspinning allrounder Pushpakumara made the national one-day squad. He bats well, fields very well and bowls pretty well. He has shown that there is a pathway for youth cricket into international honours. It is a wonderful opportunity that the selectors gave, the recognition of the under19 cup can accelerate a person's career, directly from youth cricket.
Anand - The game has grown rapidly, cricket is being played more than ever. What is your advice to young hopefuls
Whatmore - If you are young and enjoy the game, just go and get the runs if you are a batsman. If you are a fast bowler, go and bowl fast. If you are a spinner, spin it as hard as you can. What you can't teach is the skill, control and direction can be taught. I'd encourage young players to enjoy what they are doing and do it to the best of their ability. It doesn't matter if they dot enjoy success early but the improvement is the most important thing.
Anand - In the course of this interview we've talked about Sri Lankan cricket, international cricket and coaching. We've had a lot of information. Dav Whatmore, thank you very much for being on the show. Its been a pleasure.
Whatmore - Thank you, thanks for having me on the show.