It been hardly a week since coach Dav Whatmore took over the reins of Pakistan,his third major assignment as coach of a senior team in the sub-continent. Yet,if one watched him in only his second training session as coach of Pakistan,he gave the impression that he knew the boys for a long while.
The baseball glove stuck to the Australian coachs left-hand during most of mid-day practice but the right arm was often seen around the shoulder of one of the boys. The side is just warming up to Whatmore,captain Misbah-ul-Haq said and he was quick to add that the initial exchanges were pleasant. The first ice-breaking moment or getting to know the players session was over tea and biscuits in Lahore.
For the well-travelled,weather-beaten burly coach,the Pakistan job is another chapter in his on-going and extensive thesis on man-management,a skill that Whatmore likes to believe he is blessed with.
At this level I am not going to teach a batsman how to hit a cover drive or tell a captain when and in what situation he needs to attack,defend or make a bowling change. For me,whether it was Sri Lanka,Lancashire,Bangladesh,the India Under-19 side,a great deal of my work also involved man-management. You cant be a successful coach otherwise, Whatmore told The Sunday Express after Saturdays practice session.
Pakistan has enjoyed considerable success in Tests and ODIs under Misbah. They have won 14 of the 18 ODIs under him and havent lost a Test in 15 matches,thrashing No.1 England 3-0 along the way. Whatmores immediate concern will,however,be to motivate the players,making them believe they are a better ODI unit that their 0-4 loss to England would suggest.
Pakistan brings its unique set of challenges but the key is to make players feel comfortable about their game and themselves. If that happens,then individual success can be transformed into team success, Whatmore added.
The coachs CV is impressive. After coaching Sri Lanka to a successful World Cup campaign in 1996,he shifted base to Lancashire,a move that earned the club twin titles – the NatWest and the Sunday League in 1998. The Whatmore-coached Bangladesh pulled off stunning wins over India and South Africa in the 2007 World Cup,and was in-charge of the Virat Kohli-led India Under-19 side that won the junior World Cup the next year.
Yet for this hi-profile coach,the fourth foreigner to coach Pakistan,being on the job also means a blue-collar life.
When the practice session,one in which Whatmore was at the heart of,wound down the players and the support staff packed their kits and retreated to the cooler confines of the dressing room. Whatmore lingered on,picked up every disposable water bottle strewn around and dumped them into a bin.
Hell perhaps tell his boys or the support staff to help clean up the next time. But today that chapter of man-management wasnt Whatmores subject of choice.