WC 2003 - Former SA coach Woolmer backs India to win World Cup

Published: Friday, March 7, 2003, 0:02 [IST]
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Cape Town: His own country having made an early exit, former South African coach Bob Woolmer is backing India to win the World Cup."I have always believed and still do that Indians have it in them to win the World Cup," said Woolmer, who acquired a superstar's status during his heady days with the South African team in the '90s."I backed India in England and am backing it now. It is a great World Cup contender." Woolmer has been very impressed with the discipline Indiahas shown in recent times and, besides batting, showered praise on India's seam bowling department."India has a very powerful batting line-up but I am also very impressed with the discipline in the field, particularly of the fast bowlers who seem to know what they are doing." Woolmer rates the present Indian side vastly superior to the ones he faced numerous times during his years as coach of South Africa. He rubbished speculations that he had been offered the job of coach of the Indian team and said he was more inclined to take up a consultancy position with any team."There is only one international team which has approached me to be its coach and it is West Indies," said Woolmer. "But I am not sure if I am ready to travel on a full-time basis. I would be more than happy to consider consultancy option if it comes along." Woolmer is pretty happy with his present job as a development officer of the International Cricket Council (ICC) which takes him around countries such as Kenya, Namibia, Canada and Holland on coaching assignments."The minnows haven't done badly. If you look at a few of their games, they were tightly contested," Woolmer said. "Besides, Kenya beating Sri Lanka and John Davisson getting that marvellous hundred has all made right noises."Woolmer was scathing in his criticism of the South African team which bowed out of the World Cup in the league stage itself after its rain-affected game against Sri Lanka ended in a tied score."You can blame weather and all that but the team wasn't prepared for rain. That's a gross tardiness especially when you look at how the entire nation has gone into mourning. Apparently, they scrambled for papers and calculators in the dressing room when the rain factor came in and could not react in time," Woolmer said.Giving the instance of English county Warwickshire that he coaches, Woolmer said even a first class side was ready these days to tackle the Duckworth-Lewis system. "In our dressing room in Warwickshire, there is a radar which conveys how far rain has moved and whether it has a chance to interfere with the game. An international side ought to be aware of the weather and can't take chances at all."Woolmer said South African cricket was not throwing up enough talent for the team to be enthused with fresh blood and the barrenness was worrying. "There a bit of vacuum. Some of the whites may be giving up cricket and doing other things. Conversely, in the townships, if good cricketing children are not looked after between 18 and 24, they also struggle to find a job," Woolmer said."I personally know a few cricketers who only get job when they can't play cricket on Saturdays. It's hard to retain fresh talent and South African cricket is suffering."Woolmer was extremely upset at the way fast bowling great Allan Donald, who incidentally plays for Warwickshire, was treated by his team during the ongoing tournament."It is disappointing how he has been treated during this World Cup. They selected him for a reason and lost confidence in him after just one game. Every cricketer, whether 21 or 35, needs confidence and boosting. It certainly wasn't the case with Allan. Just one bad game and they played into him."This is not the way to look after a player. The whole thing got to him but then he also has to accept certain blame for not bowling well," Woolmer said. PTI

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