Abu Dhabi, November 30: Andy Flower has coached several teams across the world and in across the formats. The former Zimbabwe batsman, who holds a Test average of 51.54, by now has left an indelible mark as coach in all grades of cricket.
After recently coaching Delhi Bulls in the Abu Dhabi T10, Flower here reveals his ideas about coaching.
On the key to coaching teams in short formats like T20, T10: In franchise cricket, it’s a very different type of coaching to what you might find when you work with an international side. I have worked with England for many years as an assistant coach and head coach and also at our academy at Loughborough University. So, this type of coaching is different.
I think the main difference is the medium to long-term development you are looking for with the national team and in comparison when you get back to franchise teams sometimes you only get two practice sessions to get ready. So, I think given those constraints, getting people comfortable with each other quickly and grouping together and hitting in the same general direction is really important.
On the need for coaches themselves being fine cricketers to become a successful coach: You don’t have to be a particular player to become a successful coach. There are many great examples of all sorts of very successful coaches that have not played at the highest level. But, in specifically to answer your question, I do believe it helps me, I can empathise with the players. I know where I can have an educated guess about how they are feeling in certain circumstances because undoubtedly, I would have felt the same feelings of doubt or fear or joy or excitement or pride or invincibility.
I think we all call them our prior experiences and formulate who we are and I think we all call on the feelings that are generated by those experiences to formulate how we deal with people in the present and my playing career is probably no different in that regard.
Some of the best coaches I have come across are ex teachers and they would be doing the same, calling on their previous experiences and the lessons they have learned and some of the skills they have learned and the understanding of how other people learn and how they bring that knowledge to the party.
On the skills need to bat on slow pitches: I had some experience in that as a batsman in my time. That’s pretty much of how I saw it and did some of the informed practices on the outfield with young net bowlers and just bowling to me on the rough turf on the outfield.
Here in the UAE, it is a pretty subcontinent condition. I mean we just saw Australia and New Zealand in the T20 World Cup and their specialist skills are not in that area and we saw the seamers having a huge effect in the tournament.
These pitches…since we are playing in such a short pace of time and I think the basics apply. Picking lengths and moving your feet across to the length of the ball is still a crucial skill, you got to deploy it well out there in the middle.
If not, you will get caught by turning or a skidding ball and if you are picking the length well your mistakes can be minimized. The pull shot against the spinners in T20 has become an incredibly powerful tool not only to score runs but also to put the spinners under pressure. They are trying to drag their legs back from getting hit in their front foot.
So, lot of those basics still apply. It can be interesting to see what the organizers do with the length of the boundary in this tournament as we saw with the T20 World Cup. It had a really good balance with the bat and ball.
On the memories of winning the Abu Dhabi T10 with Maratha Arabians and coming together again with Dwayne Bravo: Great memories with DJ. Bravo was around when we won it with Maratha and in the second year where we lost in the finals, a great time with DJ. He is a great guy and a very good captain and a leader.
We were asked a few questions about DJ and his captaincy and leadership and what stands out. The perception is that he is a pretty relaxed guy and we all have seen that but actually when it comes to team meeting or speaking to the guys before stepping on to the field he has found that balance between being relaxed and switching back to professionalism. He is a good competitor, he likes winning and he doesn’t shy away from the reality that we are chasing wins and that’s what makes him great.
On teaming up with old protege Eoin Morgan at Bulls, now a successful England captain in white ball formats: He led in his own way when I was involved and he played a little Test cricket when I was the head coach. He held together the England limited-overs batting for a period of time when his batting was just incredible. Then he went through a period when he was over reliant on the reverse sweep and his numbers went down a little, yes it fluctuates like everyone else’s. Yes, he has become a great leader, people like following him, he has got genuine confidence, and he is not afraid to lose and people like following leaders like that.
On the importance of captaincy in shorter formats like T20, T10: It’s as crucial as any other formats in cricket. The captain’s role in cricket is much more crucial than any other sports, the number of decisions he had to make, the the cumulative effect of good decisions really does have a possibility of coming out on top.
So, just because it is just 10 overs long, I don’t think it changes that, his interactions with the bowlers, his relationship with the bowlers, how much decision-making power he hands over to the bowlers on field, setting tactics, whether he speaks to them mid-over and whether they make any adjustments. So, the captain plays a huge influence.
On coaching world over enriching his journey as coach: Yes, I have picked up a lot of things which has enriched me. I meet up amazing people and made some really good relationships from my varied experiences around the world as franchise coach and that might sound a bit soft if you like. You are meeting very talented cricketers that’s one thing, and meet people all over the world.
I loved my experience in the Pakistan Super League and I have loved my experiences in the CPL with the West Indian dressing room and I loved my experiences with Punjab Kings in the IPL dressing room. Obviously, my role there was different, I was an assistant coach.
But it’s basically an Indian dressing room with a few overseas stars so see experiencing this different culture and I understand you can’t be friends with everyone but learning about other people and becoming good friends with some, that I will take with franchise cricket.
On the chances of Delhi Bulls in Abu Dhabi T10: We have put a good squad together and obviously Jason Roy is missing out and we couldn’t get a NOC from PCB for Sohaib Maqsood which is a shame and a blow that both world class cricketers can’t play. We have got some young west Indian in our attack; we have got a great batting lineup and a good number of all-rounders and we could have Adil Rashid who can bat on number 10.
I think we will play good cricket. The first goal is to get into playoffs and get our guys cleared about what roles they are going to play. Then find a pattern of play that we can jell in the first few teams and test their ability to adapt and be flexible under the leadership of DJ Bravo.
(In arrangement with Delhi Bulls media team)