The resignation of Dav Whatmore has left Bangladesh with the important task of choosing the next coach. Many names such as Jamie Siddons, Dave Houghton and Terry Oliver have been floated. Furthermore, we have also learned that BCB have prepared a preliminary list of candidates who would be interviewed. It is an open secret that Richard McInnes is amongst the most favourite (at least in Banglacricket circles) to land the job. This is no surprise. He enjoys exchanging ideas with both players and fans and through these interactions has built up a loyalty that would be hard to emulate. In short, he is a known quantity who had proved his worth in gold as High Performance manager of Bangladesh from 2003 to 2005.
Richard was appointed as the Australian team's performance analyst in September 2005 just before the West Indies series. Before that he had been working as a Senior Coach at the Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence (formerly known as the Cricket Academy). We have learned that he is primarily responsible for examining the squad's performance; opposition analysis and is also involved with designing training sessions. In light of these recent developments, we caught up with Richard to share some of his thoughts
BanglaCricket - As Buchananâ€™s assistant with Cricket Australia you have been in coaching for the top team. How has this experience shaped your outlook on the game and your professional development?
Richard McInnes - . - It was obviously a major change in environment to go from working with an emerging nation like Bangladesh to working with some of the worldâ€™s best players and the number one team in the world. The major difference being that the Australian players (most of them) have played so much cricket at First Class and International level that they know their own games so well. It is the coaching staffâ€™s role to ensure that we provide an environment which allows them to prepare as they want to, while at the same time provide enough stimulus to ensure they keep improving. As a support staff you are always looking at ways to improve and assist the players to improve, but with a team like this, the opportunities to improve are much smaller and needs to be well researched and very well planned to ensure they are worth the change to any existing routines. In the time I have been with team, the manner in which the team train has changed quite a bit, which indicates that even a team as good as this, have still found better ways to prepare.
BanglaCricket - Are there any new insights you gained while working with Buchanan and Australia?
Richard McInnes - . There are no real secrets to why Australia is the leading side in World Cricket. The players come from a First Class system that breeds tough, hard working cricketers. Any player who spends an extended amount of time in the Australian team will have the best of these qualities, meaning they are the ones who work the hardest and the smartest on their game. They are also very honest in their appraisal of their own performances and set very high standards for themselves and I do think this may be an area that Bangladeshi players could improve. The Australians do the basics rights more often than any other team and they donâ€™t make too many unforced errors. You will not see an Australian batsmen hooking in the air when there are two men out behind square for instance
BanglaCricket - What is the single most valuable observation that you have learned about the state of modern cricket that will influence your decisions as an international coach?
Richard McInnes - Firstly, I am not an international coach, but from a pure coaching perspective there are a few things that I think, stand out as being vitally important if you want to be successful. Firstly, teams and individuals need to be well prepared - mentally, physically and tactically. Secondly, the team needs to have confidence in their own ability to win games when they are there to be won and equally as important, the confidence to get back into games when in trouble. Most teams are good when things are going well, but only the great teams can manage to win matches that seem un-winnable. In order to have that confidence, you need to be able to perform those basic skills under pressure and that is where your preparation is vitally important. If you donâ€™t test yourself at training, then the only time you get tested is in games. It is better to challenge yourself at training and fail a few times on the way to getting it right, then to train in your â€œcomfort zoneâ€, look a millionaire in the nets and then fail under pressure under the spotlight of the international media and opposition. I think this is where the Australian team are well ahead, they are tested at training all the time, because the standard of player is so high, they push each other along. In the teams that do not have the player depth, you need to find other ways to challenge players and extend their limits. Prior to the Bangladesh U19 tour of England back in 2004, we trained on the synthetic hockey surface, on an 18 yard pitch with an â€œincrediballâ€ (hard plastic ball with pronounced seam that swings and moves a lot) to try and simulate the increased pace, swing and bounce we would encounter in England. It overloaded our batsmen, so that when we got to England the ball was actually moving less then it was at training and the results were quite positive, even though we lost the Test series, we produced some good scores and were in a position to win the third test, before rain intervened. Obviously the bowlers had to do other specific training in order to prepare.
BanglaCricket - You have extensive experience of Video technology in Australia and are responsible for coordinating the squad's performance and opposition analysis. Tell us about your involvement in this aspect of the game? Can this technology be pushed to the next level in order to benefit a team such as Bangladesh?
Richard McInnes - My role is to capture all the game vision of our games plus all other international matches that I can get access to. From there, I analyze the players from each international team and work out how we would best expose any weaknesses and minimize their strengths, then prepare and deliver that information in formats to suit each of our players. I think all international teams are now capturing their matches, but all teams are using it to different levels depending on a range of factors. I canâ€™t tell you exactly how we are using it, as that would be inappropriate. I think Bangladesh might be in a position to do more self analysis, rather than worrying about the opposition at this stage of their development..
BanglaCricket - Do you keep abreast of developments in Bangladesh Cricket on a regular basis?
Richard McInnes Since returning to Australian I have always kept an eye on how the Bangladesh team were progressing and in particularly through the U-19 World Cup, last year. I am proud of all of the players who have kept working at their game and have at times provided some excellent performances at International and First Class level. I would like to see all of them keep improving as none of them are as good as they can be; no one is. So continual improvement is what it is all about.
BanglaCricket - On reflection, how would you compare the talent you see at the Australian academy with the boys you saw in Bangladesh when you were U-19 coach?
Richard McInnes - It is very hard to compare, as the cultures are so very different. The raw skill level is pretty similar with the batsmen. Bangladesh would probably have a better range of quality spinners to draw from and Australia would have a better bank of pace bowlers coming through. The Australian Academy (Centre of Excellence) now caters for a broad range of ages, from 19 through to late 27/28 year olds.
BanglaCricket - Could you elaborate on your personal views about the difference between the Bangladesh national team and age group cricket structure? And how this is same or different from that of Australia or any other country.
Richard McInnes - I think Shaun (Williams) and Carlton (Bernardus) have a done a great job in refining and expanding the age group and school competitions to ensure that a great number of kids have access to grassroots cricket which then provides them with a pathway to elite cricket. This is much the same as the Australian system. The lack of quality infrastructure (facilities, communication, transport etc) in Bangladesh makes it harder to coordinate this sort of system, but it is continually improving. There is no perfect system for this as it depends on so many local variables. As long as kids want to play cricket and have the opportunity to do so, you are on the right track.
BanglaCricket - Which way should Bangladesh Cricket structure go in the future?
Richard McInnes - From what I understand it is heading in the right direction. It is still really in its infancy and has a long way to go. It is vitally important to realize there is no instant solution. I read and hear many criticisms of the BCB and the various organizing committees, but each of them want cricket in Bangladesh to move forward and are working toward that. Of course there are many ways to reach the desired destination and sometimes you donâ€™t know the best path until you get to the other end. So sometimes you head down a dead end street, or it takes longer than you expect, or sometimes you get it right and you find the best way first time. But it will take time and everyone needs to work together and push in one direction, rather than trying to blame other parties. Everyone wants the same result. â€œSuccess has 1000 fathers but failure is always an orphanâ€, this is no more appropriate then in Bangladesh. When the team is doing well, everyone takes the credit and that is fine if they have contributed. When the team is not doing so well, the blame game starts and it is apparently no oneâ€™s fault, other than the players and coachâ€™s. In times of loss or hardship everyone involved needs to ask what they could have done better, rather than pretend they had nothing to do with it.
BanglaCricket - What are the main obstacles you foresee if you are to be working in Bangladesh as Head coach?
Richard McInnes - If I were fortunate enough to be provided with that opportunity I would approach it as I do when coaching any team. You have a range of personalities from which you are trying to get the best performance as a collective group. You need to optimize your training facilities, structure, equipment and resources to ensure you provide the best environment you can for each of these players to improve.
BanglaCricket - Would you prescribe the same solution to an Australian batsman and a Bangladeshi batsman? For example, we have players like Ashraful and Aftab whose inconsistency lies with their attitude towards the game. If you are given the role to be the man behind the screen, how would you try to solve the problem?
Richard McInnes - I would not give the same solution to two Australian batsmen simply because they are individuals and will probably have different ways of solving the issue. It would be the coachâ€™s job to make sure he knows which way will work with each player. There is no single solution to dealing with 11 or 12 players, regardless of nationality.
BanglaCricket - What should be our realistic goals for Bangladesh as a test nation for the next 2 to 3 years?
Richard McInnes - For each player to get better! Bangladesh could improve as a team by 20%, but if every other team improves by 20% then we are still behind them. As I said earlier, I would like to see players Test batting averages move from 25 to 30 then to 35 then to 40 etc. It is unrealistic to expect someone who is averaging 25 to instantly bat like someone that averages 45. It will take time. This needs to be underpinned by continuing to improve the domestic first class cricket standard. This is and will always be so important to Bangladesh's success at Test level.
BanglaCricket - Whats the top priority in fixing our batsmens flaws: mental acumen, technique, training, or just a fresh dose of confidence? In other words, is it all mental, or is there a major problem with technique as well?
Richard McInnes - Again there is no single solution, all of these points you raise are right for some players, and there may be other issues for others. To summarize though, I think the Bangladesh batsmen still need to master the art of building an innings, of getting to the other end when they are under pressure rather than swinging wildly, of batting as a pair better rather than two individuals, of staying positive even when defending or batting in tough conditions. This does not mean still scoring at a SR of 80+ but maintaining positive intent. I have watched several times when the Bangladeshi batsmen get in trouble they try and sit in the crease and hold the opposition out. It is really only a matter of time before they get out. You need to keep taking the game to the opposition but with calculated risks, not impetuous rushes of blood.
BanglaCricket - What are your long term plans for your career?
Richard McInnes - Keep working hard, doing the best job I can at what ever task I am given, while continually improving the skills I can offer to the my employer.
BanglaCricket - Thank you Richard and good luck!