With Donald at helm,Warriors look to fast-track change

Task cut out: New head coach Aims to turn around the fortunes of the least successful IPL Team

Written by Chinmay Brahme | Pune | Published: April 1, 2013 2:50 am

Allan Donald just wants to slow things down. Ever since landing in India,the head coach of the Pune Warriors has had to deal with multiple situations in a dwindling time frame. Donald arrived in Pune on Thursday and since then,he has overseen two training sessions,familiarised himself with players,some of whom are still arriving and also attended meetings with the support staff and analysts. He was also involved in the discussions about who would skipper the side this season. Pune play their first game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on the fifth of April in Hyderabad.

“This tournament just moves at a terrific speed. My first objective now is to keep things calm. I also want to ensure that my players are calm. Also,communication is the most important thing in this tournament. It moves along so fast that if you don’t communicate properly you might just find yourself out of the tournament,” he says.

This is Donald’s first season as head coach of the franchise and he knows it will be a challenge. “I was really chuffed when the job was offered to me. However,its been quite intimidating. Handling so many quality cricketers is definitely a tough job but I am looking forward to it,” he says.

The 46-year-old who was the side’s bowling coach last season doesn’t shy away from admitting what he though went wrong in 2012. “We fiddled around with our team selection a bit too much. We tried to be too cute and that pulled us down. Also there was no responsibility in the team last year with too much direction from outside,” he says.

One game at a time

“We looked too far ahead of ourselves last year. This time around,we are taking it just game by game. Our objective currently is the game against Sunrisers on Friday. This tournament is all about momentum and we need to earn that by playing good cricket and keeping things tight,” says the former pacer. The South African also believes that the Warriors did not execute their plans well last year. “We misread conditions at times,our batting wasn’t tailored to situations. Also we didn’t bowl well during the power-play and couldn’t close out games. We have identified the problems and now is the time to set things right,” he says.

The South African also says that his aim is to not ‘over-coach’ players. “I have got players who can take care of themselves. I want to give players the responsibility but also give them faith that whatever decisions they take on the field,they have my full backing,” he says.

Donald has brought along compatriot Robert Walter,formerly with the Delhi Daredevils,as an assistant coach. “I got Rob involved because his understanding of the conditions and players is brilliant as he has been a part of all the editions of the IPL. He is not just a fitness trainer but a fantastic coach.” he says.

Biggest squad

The Warriors have the biggest squad with 33 members this time around does Donald think too many cooks will spoil the broth? “We are going to have to finalize a group of 20 to 24 players and that’s going to be a headache. However,with the quality and the depth we have its always good to have such problems,” says Donald.

Pune who have the lowest win percentage in the IPL (27.58) having lost 21 out of the 30 games they have played over two seasons are hoping that the return of Yuvraj Singh and the talent of new purchases like Ross Taylor,Kane Richardson and Ajantha Mendis gives them new wind. “Yuvraj is in a good space. He is totally up for the IPL and he wants to win matches for the team. He will definitely be our biggest impact player,” says the coach. Donald also believes that though the mystery element attached to Mendis has now disappeared,the Sri Lankan is still a fearsome prospect. “On Indian tracks,Ajanta is a devastating four-over bowler. He has the ability to change the complexion of a game with his tricks,”

The former South African pace spearhead also had a few words of admiration for the untested Kane Richardson. The 22-year-old Australian who has played a single ODI for Australia was picked up for $700,000 in the auction. “Kane has a wonderful ability of executing yorkers consistently at 145-147 kmph. He defends totals well and can hit a long ball,” says the coach.

Michael Clarke’s absence due to a back injury has thrown a spanner in the works for Pune but Donald says that the team have moved on. “Losing a player of Michael’s calibre is not a very easy thing. However,it is something beyond my control and we are committed to building a good unit under Angelo.”

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