Dhaka, (The Telegraph
): Dav Whatmore, Pakistan's new coach, spoke to The Telegraph for around half-an-hour on Tuesday afternoon.
The following are excerpts:
You're back as the coach of a national team after almost five years. What's it like?
I hadn't been away for long and it didn't take me much time to get back into groove...That I'd already spent a number of years as a national coach (twice in Sri Lanka, once in Bangladesh) helped.
So, no nerves at all?
(Grins) Well, I've got to admit there were some nerves, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the boys were very welcoming.
Was it a hard decision to make? Pakistan, after all, has seen a huge turnover of coaches...
The answer is short — no. Yes, teams aren't touring Pakistan at this point in time, but it has such a rich (cricketing) history...These are tough times, but Pakistan continues to 'host' matches, albeit overseas.
What did you tell yourself, a World Cup-winning coach, after signing the contract?
Felt relieved, for the post had been advertised back in September, and I took charge this month.
Has the family moved to Pakistan?
They remain in Australia (near Melbourne)...I stay in the Academy, in Lahore, which is a stone's throw away from the Gaddafi Stadium.
In India and Pakistan, the foreigner issue keeps cropping up. Did you follow what was being written/talked about in the Pakistani media?
I can safely say that 99 per cent of what I read about myself was absolute rubbish. Ninetynine per cent of it all was factually incorrect. It was naughty of the print media to write about things they couldn't back up with facts, like my having asked the PCB for absolute powers.
Did you part with the Kolkata Knight Riders on an amicable note? Different versions have been doing the rounds. What actually happened?
I don't wish to get into that at this stage...I will, though, at some point in the future.
As Pakistan's coach, what's the biggest challenge?
Look, there are different goals...For the short-term, medium and long-term...I'm getting used to the boys, their level of skill...Identifying the areas we need to improve in...I'm also working very closely with the selection committee.
Are you part of the selection committee?
I was part of the meeting when the Asia Cup squad was picked. Whether that arrangement will stay or not, I can't say.
Have you been given sweeping powers?
I never demanded that I be given such powers and that's not the case either. You know me, I'm not the type to demand such things. I like to get things done amicably. That's the way I operate.
Where did you have your first closed-door meeting with the players?
In Karachi, over tea and biscuits...I was meeting a few for the first time...It's not that I gave a lecture...It was a happy 20-minute meeting...I gave an overview and said a few other things. As time goes on, we'll understand each other better.
No issues with the language and, thereby, the communication...
The cricketing language is the same everywhere.
There's nothing more important than the rapport between the captain and coach. What's it like with Misbah-ul Haq?
Exceptionally good...I'd heard he's an honest, hard-working cricketer and that's the way he is. We have an incredibly professional relationship.
Were there nerves before Pakistan's first match in the Asia Cup, against Bangladesh?
Yes, I must admit...Because everybody expected Pakistan to win, that pressure was there. Bangladesh have really improved from the time I was their coach.
Have you been surprised to learn that quite a few in the Indian camp have misgivings over Saeed Ajmal's action?
Not aware...But I did read the ICC's statement this morning.
In a new job, how do you relax?
I listen to music on the iPod...Read a bit.
The last one...You were India's U-19 coach when we won the colts' World Cup, under Virat Kohli, four years ago. Your take on the youngster?
Virat's a tremendous cricketer and I personally congratulated him for his 183 against Pakistan...I was on the other side, but I still enjoyed his innings...I told him it was a fantastic knock...I was initially a bit surprised when he got the vice-captaincy, but he's accepted that responsibility so well.