Dav Whatmore, who celebrates his birthday today, is one of cricket’s most influential coaches blessed with the ability to completely transform the fortunes of a side. Born and brought up in Ceylon, he played Test cricket for Australia, but unearthed his true capabilities in the country of his birth.
Since then, teams from across the world have wanted to acquire Whatmore’s inputs and man management talent. And he didn’t disappoint, leaving a mark in all the countries that he coached.
Whatmore spent the first few years of his life in Sri Lanka before emigrating to Australia with his family when he was eight. His first-class debut for Victoria came in 1975, and it was in 1979-80 when he made his international debut. But, in seven Tests and a solitary ODI, he wasn’t able to make a big impression.
He retired from cricket in 1988-89, perhaps when he realised what his true calling was. Since then, Whatmore has come to be known as one of the topmost coaches in cricket’s chronicles. On his birthday, let us recall his top 5 coaching accolades.
#1 Sri Lanka World Cup 1996
Starting as a domestic and little-known cricketer in Victoria, Australia, Whatmore found his true caller in Sri Lanka – his country of birth. Before Whatmore took over as Sri Lanka’s coach, the team wasn’t fancied much in the international scenario. In tandem with the then-skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, the duo changed the face of Sri Lankan cricket, turning it into a formidable powerhouse in ODIs.
The team took the world by storm when in 1996 when it won the World Cup. Openers Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sanath Jayasuriya were given the license to kill in the finals. The team always preferred to chase no matter what the situation. Those tactics, in which the coach played a major role, changed the way ODIs were played.
#2 Took Bangladesh Cricket to a better level
Whatmore’s stock rose after his incredible success with Sri Lanka. Later, the Bangladesh team approached the Australian and appointed him as coach in 2003. He may not have tasted the same level of success with the Tigers as he did with the Lankans, but there were moments that will be etched in the memory of Bangladesh fans.
In 2005, they won their first ever Test match (against Zimbabwe) and in the same year also beat Australia in a remarkable ODI at Cardiff. But, the best moment of Whatmore’s coaching career with Bangladesh was when they qualified for the Super Eights at the 2007 World Cup.
They beat India in the first round, and later got the better of South Africa. Whatmore left Bangladesh cricket in a much more stable state than when he had taken over.
#3 Pakistan won the Asia Cup in 2012
Whatmore took over from Mohsin Khan as the coach of the Pakistan cricket team in March 2012. An unpredictable team then, Pakistan wanted to begin their Asia Cup campaign with a win, under new coach Whatmore’s guidance. It was his first assignment for Pakistan as a coach, and the team was hoping to make an impression under him.
The coach found a magic formula to transform its potentially talented boys into a match-winning team. Just before the Asia Cup began, Pakistan were whitewashed by England in a Test series, followed by their poor performance in the ODIs as well.
Nobody would have bet on it after such a debacle, but the Pakistan team went on to lift the Asia Cup. Pakistan, under Whatmore, became a real force once again.
#4 India U-19 side won the Junior World Cup in 2008
The Indian team wanted to acquire the services of Whatmore; they wanted a man of his calibre to guide the young Indian talent to the U-19 World Cup in 2008. And Whatmore delivered once again. He guided the U-19 team in Malaysia to a World Cup win. Indian captain Virat Kohli and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja are the two prominent names who benefitted from Whatmore’s guidance.
The brash Indian skipper had a tremendous transformation under Whatmore. After Kohli’s four consecutive double tons in Tests earlier last year, Whatmore spoke about his former ward, “During his U-19 days, he was a little plump. What has made Kohli stand out is his desire to achieve excellence. It takes a lot of discipline to lose weight and get stronger. And he is reaping the rewards for the hard work now.”
#5 His exploits with KKR in the IPL, and Lancashire in English county cricket
After tasting much success on the international stage, Whatmore moved to England to work with Lancashire. The domestic side, under Whatmore, clinched two National Leagues and also the famous Natwest Trophy.
Whatmore also coached the Kolkata Knight Riders from 2010 to 2012. A side that had underperformed in the first two editions gradually raised its standards during Whatmore’s two year tenure. In 2010, KKR finished fifth on the points table, and in 2011, made it to the play-offs.
But Whatmore couldn’t continue his stint with KKR for longer than two years, as an international return was on the cards. He then became the coach of Pakistan in 2012 and served as their coach for two years.