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They say, a successful sportsperson seldom makes a successful coach. But that theory has been proven untrue by those who understand one simple truth – a good mentor assesses his wards on the basis of their abilities and not his own.
One legendary cricketer, who not only understood that at the very beginning of his coaching career, but has also inculcated it as the basis of his mentoring methods, is Allan Donald.
South Africa’s first truly great fast bowler, Donald’s transition to coaching was as smooth and subtle as his bowling action.
Currently in India as head coach of Pune Warriors India, the ‘White Lightening’ shared his coaching mantra with iplt20.com in a delightful chat.
He spoke of the joy of coaching Dale Steyn and wondered how it would have been to bowl alongside him for South Africa. Donald told us what impresses him the most about his PWI ward, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Here’s the complete account of the interview.
IPL – an adventure to remember
It was very intimidating for me at the start of this season. But it was always going to take time before we get some structure and build a sense of belief within the team. It’s fair to say that we’ve been up and down with our performance so far but the win over CSK was very special in a way that some young guys really stepped up and showed their worth.
When I say this is intimidating, it’s because it involves working with such massive cricketers that come together for two months as a team. For me, to try to know these guys as characters and people and understand their games was a challenge. When I left home to come here, I said to myself, ‘I’m strapping myself in for a ride that I’ll never forget’. And I’m learning all the time.
The coaching mantra
For me, cricket is all about attitude. For me to come here and tell Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashok Dinda how to bowl, is not the key. For me it’s important to everyday tap their attitude to what they do and should do. It’s about me being able to inspire those two guys to perform something special. On the morning of the CSK match, I had a little session with them, we had a chat and the way they responded was fantastic to see.
Respect for individuality
One thing I’ve always told myself is that you cannot tell people how you did things as a cricketer. You’ve got to understand and know the people you’re coaching because they are different characters. Therefore, you have to treat them differently to everybody else. That is the greatest thing about coaching. Then you can start working with individuals to encourage them or change their attitude and on the whole, make an impact on their lives. To come here and try to overcomplicate things is never going to work.
The young Indian turk
I saw this last year when I was the bowling coach of the team that Bhuvneshwar Kumar is not someone who’s going to bowl at 150kmph. Where he’s very smart is that he has sorted his game out and he swings the ball both ways. Sometimes, he gets a bit too floaty. But he is learning how to make adjustments with his lengths and keep varying it. I read somewhere that maybe it’s time to leave him out for a while and give someone else a chance. But when you’ve got so much skill and talent, you don’t sit out. It’s just the matter of us giving them a bit of backing and faith.
Dale Steyn’s biggest fan
I’ve always been a massive Dale Steyn fan. Dale, for me, is like a racehorse. He’s gracious and has the most fluent, uncomplicated and clean action. Not for nothing he is the world’s best fast bowler. I just love what he brings to the game and I love what he does for South Africa.
I wish I did. If I were to bowl with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, we would have formed the most prolific attack. But working with them is unbelievably special. They are, at the moment, and hopefully for a long time to come, the best fast bowling pair in the world.
Chennai Super Kingshave been near invincible at home since the inaugural season of the IPL. They guard the Chepauk as their fortress and beating CSK there is a dream that has seldom come true, until theKolkata Knight Riders defeated them to realise it to lift the IPL 2012 trophy.
The Super Kings haven’t quite been able to regain their home supremacy this season as a ratio of 2 losses to a win so far would suggest. After losing their first match of the season, against Mumbai Indians, CSK lost to the modest Pune Warriors India at home. The sole victory came against RCB, thanks to RP Singh’s overstepping foot.
After the 24-run loss to PWI, iplt20.com caught up with one of the senior members of CSK and the anchor of their batting line-up, S Badrinath. We quizzed Badri about the misfiring openers, crumbling middle-order and the tendency to leave a bit too much work for the final overs while chasing.
Losing at home is not something that CSK are used to. But has this season been a little dodgy in that regards?
Yes, we always pride ourselves on our home record. This stadium is a bit like a fortress for us and it’s been disappointing to lose two games already this season. But these are still early days in the tournament and we have always been slow starters. We’ll take a few things from this game and move on.
Especially while chasing, do you think the team leaves a bit too much till the end?
Yes, let’s be honest. We haven’t been able to get great starts and we’ve lost too many wickets at the top order. That’s something that needs to be addressed. However, these batsmen have done it for us before and we need to have faith in them.
What was the strategy behind not playing Michael Hussey today and in hindsight did that hamper the team’s ability to pace the chase well?
It was something got to do with the combination. We wanted Anirudha to get going at the top of the order and get Albie (Morkel) in to add some firepower in the batting and another bowling option. It was very unfortunate that Anirudha got out off the second ball.
Opening partnership was the hallmark of CSK’s batting in 2012. Do you think the openers not clicking is hurting the team this season?
Yes, that’s true. The openers are not able to get us to the required start. In that one game against KXIP, the openers just saw us through. Apart from that, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Faf (du Plessis) was brilliant for us last season at the top of the order. Opening is such a key role in Twenty20 cricket. In the first six overs the fielders are inside and you need to capitalise on that. That start takes on the momentum to the middle order and further in the innings.
Is there a case for you to move up the order and open? You did that pretty well last year in some of the matches.
I don’t know. I have always done well at No.4. If you see my record, my best average and strike-rate is when I bat at 4. Also, these openers have done it for us in the past and I think they should be given time.
Despite adding to the bowling firepower, death bowling remains a problem for CSK?
It has been a bit of a mixed bag so far. They bowled really well in the first couple of matches but today we slipped when it came to our death bowling. That is something that we will take up and work on.