Bob Woolmer-A Dream Coach

Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2003, 18:23 [IST]
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Bob Woolmer-A Dream Coach

What kind of preparation did it require?
I suppose the preparation had been occurring for some time. I had already coached the Natal University side and at school level and had been running coaching clinics from 1968. I also watched my coaches and how they ran their show and I felt that I could do it better as my philosophy on coaching was to coach as I would have liked to have been coached and not copy others.

Make the role better. I had always been a player coach and having a school teaching background helped me to prepare. So, the preparation period was over many years. I was also lucky that I had been involved in many camps held by the South African cricket Union and had the benefit of scientists, psychologists and physiologists who continually stimulated my cricket thinking. So, when I realized that this is what I should do I decided to do it thoroughly and made a conscious effort to do it well.

What qualities or qualification should one look for in a cricket coach?
I believe that a coach should have a rounded knowledge of the game, that he should be flexible, democratic with a smidgeon of autocracy. Be flexible but strong, to be mindful that no two players can be treated the same. To be enthusiastic and humble. To be prepared but open to change, to adapt to situations to take the talents of the individual and enhance them. To find the weaknesses and make them strengths. To be hard but fair. But above all have the humility to realize that you are only the custodians of the game for the next generation and to pass on as much knowledge as possible.

What are the Coach Accreditation courses available? What are costs involved?
Most major countries have levels 1-4/5, and I believe them to be excellent in the teachings of the game. I would like to see an international standard set for world cricket but we might be a little away from that just now, but it is a dream.

Do you think trained coaches can make a living by coaching?
Yes I believe that they can make a living from the game but like a players life a coach’s life will be only so long. After all I believe the better coaches will have experienced and studied most of what they teach and therefore playing the game is important that means that if you play the game until 40 then coaching lasts until about 65 depending on fitness etc, then coaches should commit their knowledge to paper and that is why there should be a world standard.

You are more popular and famous as a coach than you were as a player. Your viewpoint
Professor Noakes said that psychologically I wanted to achieve the things I missed as a player! I can’t argue but I enjoyed both facets of my cricket life.

What do you look for in an up coming cricketer?
What do I look for in a player? Natural talent, co-ordination, ability to put into practice what he is being taught, a love and desire for the game. The 'right attitude' generally.

It has been noticed that at times a coach may have misplaced faith in some cricketer who never blossoms and writes off a potential lad. Why or how does this happen?
It is a natural phenomenon of the game. Players change from year to year. Some develop over a longer period some quicker and then go off the game. One of the worst traits of coaching is to give up on a player. It has to happen sometimes as they just do not listen or are too bigheaded. But a coach should never pigeon-hole a player. He should always try to see the best in a player and make the most out of it. The bottom line is that it will be the player who makes the grade not the coach. It is up to the desire of the individual that will lead him to his goal.

How essential is it for a coach to have first class cricket experience and how does it help?
I believe it can be both help and a hindrance. The plus side is that if you have played first class cricket for a period of time you will have gained knowledge of the game that other coaches cannot possibly experience. It will give you credibility the higher the level you play.

However, it can be a poisoned chalice, because many cricketers go into coaching because they didn't quite make the grade and they want to stay in the game and they pass on the negativity that they experienced. This is a problem. Sometimes coaches with uncluttered minds are better.

My experience is that for me to coach internationally I needed to have that experience. It helped me deal with situations and to read situations better. It didn't however make me a better coach of 8 year olds, which I had to learn and discover myself.

Whom would you rate as the top five coaches at the moment?
Not an easy question because I have not experienced their coaching. Judging by results, I would think that Dave Whatmore, Duncan Fletcher, John Buchanan, are all there, sometimes there are coaches in the wings doing fantastic roles. Andrew Kirsten made a huge difference to Kenya when he assisted Sandeep Patil.

John Wright has had a very positive influence on India. Good coaches will engender good results in a team, but should be judged not so much on results but on the time he spends and the knowledge he imparts. I would like to think that all coaches have their strengths and their weaknesses and that a good coach is prepared to acknowledge his weakness and let others in to help him.

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