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Whatmore, coach with a Midas touch
March 31, 2007 00:59 IST
Dav Whatmore has again proved he is a coach with the Midas touch after guiding under-rated Bangladesh to the World Cup second round.
The former Australia Test batsman coached Sri Lanka to a surprise Cup triumph in 1996 and returned for a second term to help them reach the semi-finals four years ago.
Whatmore added steel to a Sri Lankan side using Sanath Jayasuriya as a pinch-hitting opener with astute skipper Arjuna Ranatunga surprising rivals by chasing targets.
Whatmore is more of a mentor to Bangladesh, who are still finding their feet among the game's elite.
"We're still very happy to be here," Whatmore, whose side have advanced beyond the opening stage for the first time, said in an interview. "It is going to be a terrific experience for everyone.
"We're going to enjoy this as much as we can and put our best foot forward."
Bangladesh scored a shock win over India to eliminate the former champions in the first round and qualified from the tough Group B behind Sri Lanka.
They begin Super Eights action on Saturday with their toughest possible game, against champions Australia.
Stripped to his waist under the sun, Whatmore put his players through their paces this week at the Stanford Cricket Ground.
He highlighted that talent and good administration have helped cricket replace football as the number one sport in Bangladesh, who were granted test status in 2000.
Whatmore put his own success down to man management and setting realistic targets for the team he is coaching.
"People feel me... I like to be natural and give it my best shot," he said. "Sometimes I miss targets, most times I don't.
"I'm always prepared to keep an open mind."
After failing to win a single match during the 2003 World Cup, Bangladesh have enjoyed a remarkable turnaround since Whatmore took over.
Since then they have won their first-ever Test (against Zimbabwe) and scored one-day wins over Australia, Sri Lanka and India.
Encouraged by the progress, Whatmore opted for youth for the World Cup and was vindicated by the performances of teenaged batsman Tamim Iqbal and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, who both hit stunning fifies in the five-wicket win over India.
Whatmore said his strategy was not to get emotionally involved with the team, particularly in the charged up cricketing atmosphere of the sub-continent.
"It is judging the best distance to be from players, to be close but far enough to be able to tell them the way it is," he said.
Whatmore hoped the Super Eights would help the players develop further.
"It has been a significant step so far," he said. "There can be an even bigger one in the next two weeks.
"Our next objective is to make it an even more important factor in the overall development in our short history so far.
"We've hopefully turned the corner a little bit," he said. "If it is getting harder to win matches, that means we're doing well."
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