Nepal’s newly-appointed national team coach Dav Whatmore is a big name. In his over two-and-a-half decade long globetrotting career as a coach, Whatmore has achieved everything one would ask for. He won the 1996 World Cup with Sri Lanka and 2012 Asia Cup with Pakistan.
Additionally, it was Whatmore who transformed the Bangladesh squad into a decent team while looking after the then-Test minnows from 2003 to 2007. Whatmore was the front runner when he applied for the vacant Nepal job and CAN recruited him straight away handing him a one-year contract.
Nepal’s tour to Oman for the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 was supposed to be his first assignment but the series was postponed due to new health protocol in the gulf nation.
Adarsha Dhakal sat with Whatmore for an interview to talk about his new job and the status of Nepali cricket as a whole. Here are the excerpts:
Can you define what exactly you are doing in Nepal at the moment ?
The short answer is I am here to work with the national men’s team, to prepare as well as we can before competition and to make an impression to maintain our ranking or, if not, to improve our ranking. We had our tournament on mid-March (League 2 tri-series) but unfortunately we have to wait a bit longer. But still we are doing the best we can.
You came in mid-January and took a close look at domestic competition apart from spending time with the senior boys, and separately with younger players. What is the status of our players in terms of being a cricketer?
The Prime Minister Cup was very enlightening to me. That, in fact, was my first exposure to Nepal’s domestic competition. As a result, we had a group of boys spending a little bit of time or so, may be a week. The senior boys then followed and it was really good.
The camp was all about formulating the best combination and now I have more than one, at least in my mind. The news is we have some pretty decent skillful players. We need to improve the mental side of it. Its not the case exclusively with Nepal.
A lot of players around the world need that assistance. We need to develop more depth as well and I am sure there are some hidden gems not discovered yet in the country.
How has been the environment in the closed-camp when you first started?
One of the major emphases in any team sports is the team-work, the ability to play for each other and to show real enjoyment in other’s performance. I am really keen to continue to develop that team work, ethic and values that each of us needs to display to ensure that we are together and support each other.
There are lots of stressful situations that occur in all sports and cricket is not different. You need your teammates to support each other. So far its good.
How can we take the real players out from the boys?
Its all about their character. There are some boys who look really good in the nets and there are others who do better domestically. The thing that differentiates between looking good in these environments is their approach to tough competition which will determine their character.
It’s the ability to mentally absorb the pressure and disregard distractions, go ahead and focus on whatever job you have to do.
Being a nation with One Day International status, what sort of domestic structure you would like to see in Nepal?
What I would like to see is what lot of people would like to see. A dedicated mainstream set of competitions that make up the cricket season of the country. Currently, we haven’t got that. We have some pop-up tournaments which are good in its own way. It is at least creating a way of identifying players. There is PM Cup, Mayor’s Cup and few Twenty20 tournaments to spring up.
But I would like to see a dedicated competition that runs through four-month or five-month cricket season. Eventually, I am sure Cricket Association of Nepal will achieve that.
How many players would you expect in the pool to pick from for the national team?
The pool can never be big enough. You would always like as many players playing in the mainstream competition. You will need a fair representation from the whole country or all the provinces.
Hopefully, there will be two-day matches that can incorporate the youngsters or may be yard hidden zone which has not yet been discovered but just might come out during competition. If we have good competition, its better to have as many good players with us.
We are not unaware when we are going to play our international matches next. Under these circumstances what goes within your mind?
My mind tells me that tournament like Mayor Cup is good as it gives opportunity to the domestic boys, who are already identified. If somehow we are able to attract teams to Nepal, it would be a good start for us.
Lets play a good hard 50-over cricket. That will be really beneficial not just for Nepal but any other who is coming here, be it the teams at our level or above us.
Have you thought of having a team of supporting staff?
Honestly, the answer is yes. But its not the case of that happening so easily. There are two things: one is financial constraint and the other is making sure you develop local talent, not just players but also potential coaches, physiotherapist, fitness coach and others. We need to be careful that we cannot just disregard local personnel.
What have you suggested the Cricket Association of Nepal in regard to the development of the game?
In any country, the success and strength of the national team is always reflection of domestic cricket. So if you have a good strong base of the pyramid, then you get performances that carry more weight. I have talked to CAN at different stages but we are yet to have a full conversation.
Where do you rate Nepal in the current ladder of the Associate nations?
We are ranked 14th. It wasn’t that long ago that a team like Afghanistan was way down and climbed up the ladder pretty quickly to Test status. I can eventually see Nepal pushing hard the same way. There are number of things that need to be done.
The domestic competition is where you need to be judged up, then you have international competitions assisting our boys to improve and then in ICC tournaments we make sure we top the groups and qualify. There is good reason to be positive and confident.
What would you like to tell the fans?
I would like to tell them that I will certainly do whatever I can. I will not leave any stone unturned to ensure that we are as prepared as we can.
We are physically and skillfully prepared to achieve what we are capable of. I know that they are very passionate and we will give them back the result to make them more passionate.