Coaches must not get too technical: Allan Donald

Pune Warriors bowling coach has high praise for Umesh Yadav, Ashok Dinda



Pune: Allan Donald, a legend in his own right, spoke to The Telegraph on Saturday.

The following are excerpts

Whether life is more ‘stable’ now...

(Smiles) I’m pretty settled at the moment. Obviously, it’s great to be back in South Africa (after a short stint in New Zealand)... I was the happiest person in the world when I got the call from Gary Kirsten.

[Donald has also worked with England and in Zimbabwe.]

Being the bowling coach of South Africa and the Pune Warriors India...

When you go into a group and find the likes of Morne Morkel, then you aren’t going to tell the guys much. When I was playing, all I wanted from a coach was a word of advice... I think my work really starts when somebody is out of form. At the international level, you can’t teach the guys anything technical anymore... You need to inspire them, motivate them.

Working for an IPL franchise...

One is working with a much bigger group, as opposed to a Test or an ODI squad... It’s important to understand why somebody isn’t in form. Equally, one has to understand why somebody is in form. As the Warriors’ bowling coach, it’s my job to ensure that even those who don’t get to play regularly stay sharp.

If his presence overawes the younger lot in the bowling unit...

To talk of the Warriors... There was a pre-IPL camp in Lucknow, where we broke the ice... We had three days of bonding... The guys were like ‘we can ask anything and everything’... Sometimes, they don’t come up to me... So, I go to them and ask if they’re happy, if they’re OK. I have quite liked the atmosphere.

Whether there’s a list of dos and don’ts for a bowling coach...

One should strategise on a day to day basis, not to get too far ahead of yourself. In Test matches, it often gets down to session by session.

If there’s something bowlers don’t want to hear...

They don’t want things to be over-complicated... They don’t want coaches to be too technical. Having been a bowler myself, I understand their psyche. Indeed, across the board, coaches must not get too technical.

On rating Ashok Dinda highly...


I like Dinda because he’s competitive, he has everything a fast bowler needs to have... He’s not tall, but is an exceptional talent, with very good skill... When I look at a fast bowler, I first look at his attitude... Out in the middle, he has to be competitive... Today, in my view, Dinda is in the top-five in India... He just has to be consistent and must stay fit.

Umesh Yadav making such a splash...

Yadav was the stand out bowler in Australia... Is a good athlete and has been bowling so well in the IPL too... He’s got a good engine, is a strong man who consistently bowls in the 140s and above. After Jawagal Srinath, Yadav is the first in India to be so strong, be so fast and be such an athlete. Watch out for him.

If the selectors were right in resting the 24-year-old Yadav for the Asia Cup...

Even youngsters need to be rested... Yadav bowled a lot in Australia, so it was OK to give him a break... You may not rest bowlers in Test matches, but certainly in ODIs. In South Africa, we’ll have to rest Dale Steyn and Morkel at some stage. Because of the volume of cricket being played, that has become necessary. Rest is paramount.

Vernon Philander having a dream run...


Vernon’s set to be a great bowler, for he has all the attributes... He can swing the ball both ways and, on wickets with some assistance, is more than a handful. You won’t find him bowling in the 150s, but he’ll be in the lively 130s, bowling in incredibly narrow channels.

If South Africa has the best pace attack...

Quite a few teams are right up there... South Africa, Australia, Pakistan... Even England... There’s talent in India... Someone somewhere keeps coming through with something special.

On James Pattinson...

He’s a lovely bowler... Quick, with great rhythm and a strong body... Michael Clarke believes Pattinson will eventually become the best fast bowler in Test cricket... He’s been having fitness issues, but that’s the same with many others.

His message to youngsters...


While talent is important, one needs the physical attributes too... Once you’re strong physically, start believing in yourself. How does a youngster believe in himself? By following his dreams and by backing himself. Coaching at the schools level is so critical. Right now, it’s pathetic... I intend starting a programme, back in Bloemfontein, focusing on schoolkids... They’re crying out for something that I have in mind. Even their parents want a programme.

Working with Gary, South Africa’s head coach...

Gary’s unbelievably forward-thinking... His philosophy is individual responsibility, with individuals making decisions for themselves... He wants a team which is self-reliant where decision-making is concerned... He’s created a calmness in the dressing room, working closely with Paddy Upton (the mental conditioning coach).

Finally, being on the same side as Sourav Ganguly, India’s most successful Test captain...


The respect for the guy is way up there... Sourav’s got an aura about himself. It’s easy to captain when you’re winning, not so when the team is losing. He’s tried his best.

Matches