Ever since Bob Simpson revolutionized the coach's role at Test level and took
Australia to be the champion side at the 1987 World Cup, they have marched forward
with a strong pedigree of cricket coaching. They have raised the bar for specialist
cricket coaching ? with issues focused on team management, fitness training,
and practice and opposition analysis.
Bangladesh has sought to tap into this knowledge pool; current national team
coach Dav Whatmore hails from the land down under as does Richard McInnes,
the recently departed, and much respected, former U-19 coach. BCB's cooperation
with Australia continues as Mr. Allister de Winter arrives in Dhaka on the 24th
of June to fill the seat left vacant by Coach McIness.
Allister de Winter
BanglaCricket is pleased to inform readers that Allister de Winter agreed to
provide us a glimpse of his initial thoughts before he departs from Australia
on his long journey to Bangladesh with his newly wed wife.
The transcript of the telephone interview BanglaCricket's GM Bashar had with Allister on Sunday, June
10th 2005 follows. In the meantime, we at BanglaCricket wish him all the luck
in his latest career milestone.
BanglaCricket (BC): How did you get into coaching? Tell us
a little bit about
Allister de Winter (AdW): Here at the Western Australia Cricket
Academy, Perth, I have been a coach for 2 years, working with 4 other colleagues
in a role that is in many ways quite a similar role to the one I will be taking
up in Bangladesh. My main task is to oversee all the elite cricket levels in
this region and see to the development of all of our U-13, -17, -19 cricket
programmes. This also includes the responsibility for talent identification
and ensuring that the development of cricket runs smoothly under the coaching
programmes at WACA from the elite players and beyond.
In addition to coaching the elite players, one of the main functions of my
role at the WACA is to ensure that the coach education system is conducted and
that we develop quality coaches to work with our talented players.
As Head Coach of the Western Australian U-19 team, I am responsible for preparing
the program, including fitness & conditioning, mental skills, skill development
and game sense practice. This I do with a staff of specialist coaches that work
with the players over a 5 month period leading up to the National U-19 Cricket
Prior to my present job, I was attached to Tasmania cricket where I played
my First Class cricket from 1986 ?1992. I was a fast bowling allrounder
for Tasmania team until I had a bad back injury at the age of 23 that stopped
me from bowling fast. From that point onwards, I moved away from fast bowling
and became a top order batsman who bowled off spin occasionally. Things progressed
and finally I ended up taking up coaching within Tasmania where I coached in
their fast bowling training programme.
BC: How did you hear about this BD U-19 opportunity and what
attracted you to it?
AdW: Cricket in the Asian region, which is so popular, is
expanding fast and these days you get to hear about opportunities quite fast
all the time, especially in cricket circles. Moreover, I know Shaun Williams
very well. He is presently the general manager of game development in Bangladesh
besides his other role in the development of the A team. So when I a first heard
of the opening, I talked to Shaun and let my feelings and enthusiasm be known
to Shaun. From there I guess it evolved very quickly and I must say that I was
glad to be in the final interview rounds.
So I would say that it was Shaun who really encouraged me to pursue this opening.
From there things progressed fast and soon I believe Shaun will be my superior
over there and I am sure we will be working closely. Besides Shaun, I know Stuart
Karpinnen, the physical fitness coach attached to the national team, who was
also another fine pace bowler. Then there is Dav, who I have had the opportunity
to actually play against early in my career.
BC: So in short, you had done your homework regarding Bangladesh?
AdW: Yes, you could say that, up to a point, as I had followed
general cricket developments going on in Bangladesh keenly.
BC: I understand that you have been following the tigers
in England, so what is your observation of the matches?
AdW: Yes, and now even more so than before. Look, it is a
difficult period for the national team. And I will say up front that I understand
the fact that there are some very young inexperienced players in the team and
that is undoubtedly a factor in their inconsistent performances. So before we
judge these players and their performances, we need to be rational and supportive.
That means, to understand that it will take a lot of time for them to develop.
My initial thoughts are that we must give them the opportunity to access the
best coaching available and encourage them to be the best they can be. We need
to prepare them in a way that will see them become competitive for the entirety
of a Test Match and this will take some time and patience. But with the passion
of the players, supporters and coaches this is certainly possible. A strong
domestic competition is also a very important component in providing a total
It is important to look at the strengths, which the boys do have, and make
those as strong as possible because clearly, we have talent both in batting
and bowling. But, we need to make sure they develop their patience in the longer
form of the game and that all players are aware of the demands of the 5 day
nature of the game. They need to come to grips with being competitive for 5
days and that is the key. It will be a challenge and it will take time but my
aim will be to incorporate this factor in all my programmes. The results of
the programme won?t be seen overnight and it will be a gradual improvement.
But as a nation, after a 5 year period, when all the systems, programmes and
initiatives have been well established, and are being worked at continuously,
then we can look to be more competitive as a nation. But right now, we need
balance and patience.
BC: Allister, so any particular player, names that caught
your eye in the tour?
AdW: No. No particular player caught my eye, but that is because
I look at the whole ?team? and I mainly looked at how this team
operates. For me that is more relevant than individual names. I see how they
react to situations and I must say here that they are in very capable hands
of Dav with his method of coaching. He is a very good communicater and the empathy
with the team is excellent. I believe that is exactly what we need to continue
with where the team has a lot of ?natural ability? with a few good
bowlers and batsmen. I was lucky enough to play against Dav in 1987 at the MCG
when he was playing for Victoria. They had a very strong team that included
Dean Jones, Merv Hughes, Tony Dodemaide and Jamie Siddons. From memory, Dav
opened the batting and scored 24, while Dean Jones smashed 191. The match ended
in a draw after 4 days. I bowled 28 overs taking 0/94 and scored 2 and 51 (my
first First Class half century).
BC: The change from handling Western Australia to U-19 Bangladesh
is quite a leap. What problems and challenges do you foresee?
AdW: Obviously, the facilities won?t be what I am used
to but let?s face it, until the facilities are developed we should deal
with what we have in the best possible manner. So my role will be the same whether
I am in Western Australia or Bangladesh, to see that the boys are coming through
as better cricketers and with the aim of my programmes, are also better people.
So my approach for the Bangladesh U-19 is the same: the focus on the same and
deliver improvements regardless of what is out there. In the end it will be
up to me to get those programmes going.
BC: You?ll be following in the footsteps of Richard
McIness. Any trepidation coming into a situation where expectations on all sides
might be a bit high?
AdW: It is clear that Richard has done a lot of very good
things with the main U-19 programme in place and it has come a long now from
the inception stage. So my first 2 months would be to actually get to know the
system, coaches, and all the people in depth. Basically, to see what actually
Richard has done. From there I would like to see how I could take the programme
from there with my style. I know Richard has his way of doing things but I would
hope to add my own input soon with my way of working. Anyway, I will make sure
that all the good things that Richard has done continues and then my thought
would come to play, especially to see how to get players to test standards.
I will be honest about one thing. One of my strong philosophies is that all
my players will need to have a strong work ethic. That means, I expect them
to be fit, punctual, and expect them to do everything that I ask of them in
the best way they possibly can. If they don?t, they are only letting themselves
down. If that occurs, I have to see how to mitigate that and prevent that. They
really have to go beyond the national level, which means there always will be
my demand for that ?extra? performance.
BC: I understand that you were a specialist coach for fast
bowlers. What will you bring from your experiences at Western Australia?
AdW: Let?s face it, fast bowlers don't just come along,
I mean they are born, aren?t they? But what we must take care of is that
good coaching for them is in place to take care of those who are naturally gifted.
But apart from the pacers we really need to make sure we have got very good
swing bowlers who understand all the conditions they play in. When they bowl,
they need to understand how to control and know in depth what they are doing.
I understand that conditions might not be ideal in Bangladesh for pace but they
also need to know that regardless of pace, variation will be the key. Other
than that, I would say to maintain search for the next few fast bowlers would
BC: How far can a coach go in trying to improve a player?
AdW: The coach can take the player as far as the player wants
to go. But the coach needs to do all in his power to make sure that the resources
and backup are in place so that a proper platform is there when the player needs
it. Especially when the player needs it in his particular stage of development.
But for me, it is one to one communication that is more important. In the coach?s
point of view, he must see to it that the player believes in himself and that
he can truly go all the way. It is a two way street and to do that we really
rely on the player?s application, discipline and motivation to go all
BC: There are a lot of technological aids for coaches nowadays
as cricket coaching has progressed towards technology and science. What are
your feelings about this?
AdW: Yes, it is important that we embrace the technology.
But this should be more as a tool to help us to primarily better understand
the ins and outs of our players. Honestly, we need to understand that ?communication?
between players and coach, i.e. ?One on one basis?
is the most important aspect in coaching. Knowing your players, developing the
respect and trust of your players. Science is just one of the tools to helps
us know and analyze those players and their game, and if trust exists, I believe
we will get better results from them. But yes, there are certainly a lot of
tools, which we will be using in my programmes. But as I said it will just one
of the methods we will employ to help develop our players.
BC: In terms of coaching, do you have any role models?
AdW: Not one person in particular. You see I was lucky enough
to work with bright people at national, state and local levels of Australia.
. So I have tried to pick up the good qualities of all these coaches I met.
More than that I have looked at other sports beyond cricket where I freely learn
and pick up ideas. You see Australia has very good coaches not only in cricket
but also in other sports such as Australian Rules football, hockey, basketball
and Tennis. And I have incorporated elements from these sports in my next comprehensive
training programme, (that I have already sent to BCB), for our boys. I will
also like to add practice games such as touch football, tennis, Australian Rules
football. One is to give them the benefit of variety but also to give them a
better understanding of their athletic abilities, which will provide a way for
them to know their physical skills. It will also help them to explore ways to
use other sports and learn about motor skills to refine their cricket. Particularly
in the biomechanics side of things, players get to know how their body copes
and works best in a variety of situations. This I hope will take them further.
Apart from players, I have always encouraged all my coaches to think about
their own philosophy and also to look elsewhere, so if one thing works best
why not give it a try? This is because you don?t want all your coaches
to do the same routine but work on an individual approach with flair. This is
what Bangladesh coaches need in the future? coaches with personal flair
with variety that would be healthy for Bangladesh cricket development.
BC: In Bangladesh we have seen how players have been inducted
into the test team with few or no experience in First Class cricket. What are
your thoughts about selection for a test team?
AdW: To be honest, I really don?t understand how the
process of selection works at the moment but it is something I will learn quickly,
I am sure. But I think we need to do is to make sure we prepare a structure
with competitions where the best players play each other as often as they can.
If that is not achievable we need to take them elsewhere or provide opportunities
to challenge them on a daily basis. My philosophy is that I am coaching for
the welfare and future of Bangladesh cricket and not for me. So in this we need
to address the standard of the domestic cricket. But I understand that the Dhaka
league is in place and looks good to be moving in the right direction. But yes,
for them to become competitive in the international games it is vital for them
to play, whether they play as a group or a team, or in the in the national league.
BC: It has been really nice talking to you. Lastly, how can
fans help the team and perhaps you?
AdW: I understand that everyone wants to see Bangladesh become
competitive fast. All I can say is that this is a process that needs more time.
This is a young team and we are up against teams with decades of experience
so it isn?t fair to compare.
And I would say that fans in turn could exercise some patience. Together with
support and understanding we need to appreciate the process and look at things
beyond performance. Together with your website we hope to do this and stress
the educational process that we are in. Anyway, I will encourage our new boys,
as part of our learning programme, to get to know what is out there and by using
your website I hope it is a tool for then to gain information about cricket.
And also I would like the members to know that I am keen to meet any of them
in Dhaka for a chat.