Coaches Prepare for WCQ Challenge
Collingwood: “The team is ready and excited. I don’t think the preparation could have been any better”
Aqib Javed, Paul Collingwood and Pubudu Dassanayake are popular figures in international cricket who have played crucial roles in the preparation of their respective sides for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014 (CWCQ), which begins on Monday with four matches.
Aqib, who is the UAE coach, was a member of the Pakistan side that won the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 and also played in the 1996 tournament, besides featuring in 22 Tests and 163 ODIs from 1989 to 1998. Collingwood represented England in three ICC Cricket World Cups (2003, 2007 and 2011), led England to the ICC World Twenty20 West Indies 2010 title and played 68 Tests, 197 ODIs and 35 T20Is from 2001 to 2011, and he has prepared Scotland. Pubudu Dassanayake is the Nepal coach who played 11 Tests and 16 ODIs for Sri Lanka between 1993 and 1994.
The UAE opens its campaign against Nepal on Monday, and Aqib said he had been paying special attention to his batsmen. “We will be playing in conditions which are not familiar to any of our players. It is our first trip to that region.”
“We have a good batting unit, but it has struggled on green, seaming tracks. That’s why I am working extra hard with the batters specifically on how to counter seam and swing,” said Aqib.
Collingwood’s Scotland faces Hong Kong on Monday, and the former England all-rounder said his side had prepared well for the 20-day tournament in which the finalists qualify for the ICC’s flagship event, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
“The team is ready and excited. I don’t think the preparation could have been any better, and we’ve got confidence from the three wins (in practice games)”, said Collingwood, adding: “We’ve nailed down an approach that we want to use throughout the tournament, and the guys have performed well in the middle.”
Wright: “It’s a side that wants to learn, so I am confident with the squad we have here”
Dassanayake said Nepal was determined to perform strongly at the tournament.
“The guys have such hunger to do well, there have been no problems getting them to perform. It has really helped us to be here early and get used to the conditions. The guys took two to three days to get over the jet lag and now we're really settled.
“The conditions are very different here. Weather-wise, it is similar to Nepal. In the evenings, it gets colder in Nepal too. But the wicket and ground conditions are different. The guys have such hunger to do well.”
Canada, which takes on the UAE on Wednesday, is being coached by Andy Pick, who played 195 first-class matches for Nottinghamshire and Wellington in which he scored 2,259 runs and took 495 wickets. He also helped England to two ICC U19 Cricket World Cup semi-finals.
Pick said the biggest challenge for his team has been adapting to the weather.
“We spent a few days in Auckland and played against a local team. It was an acclimatisation process really. Some guys have come from Winnipeg, where the temperature was minus 20 degrees, and they've come here where it's 20 degrees or so, so for some of them the temperature change has been up to 40 degrees!”
Pick said his main focus had been on improving team confidence after the side’s 12th place finish at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2013 (WT20Q). “I am getting the group together, getting them to produce their best cricket, and get them upbeat. There are some new faces in the team and I want to instill some self-belief in the team.”
Netherlands meets Uganda on the opening day of the tournament, and it is coached by Anton Roux, who played four first-class matches for South Africa’s domestic side Northerns.
The former off-spinner was delighted with his team’s preparations in New Zealand, saying: “We hit the ground running after an extensive flight schedule from Amsterdam. Our preparations have been spot on so far. We have had only good experiences with the people and facilities of New Zealand.
“We focused immensely on our strength and conditioning prior to the ICC WT20Q and this tournament. I think it is safe to say that this is the fittest that the Dutch team has been in a long time, and I trust that this will hold us in good stead in a very demanding tournament. As the tournament goes on, I am hoping our guys step up another level in performance.”
Hong Kong’s player-coach Mark Wright is confident that his side will continue its recent run of good form into the tournament.
“The result in the UAE at the ICC WT20Q was great for Hong Kong cricket, and Hong Kong. We want to go about our business here in New Zealand in as positive a way as possible and really carry forward with the good results from that tournament. It’s a different format, and it’s one that will test us more over time.
“We also have a slightly different squad to that of the ICC WT20Q. New faces bring new energy. We’ve got a fairly young side, and it’s a side that wants to learn, so I am confident with the squad we have here.
“The two practice matches we've had have been invaluable in many ways. In particular, we’ve been able to experience the conditions. It was more about that experience than the results. Obviously, the conditions are foreign to us, being from Hong Kong, so any chance to spend time in foreign conditions is great.”
Uganda coach Johan Rudolph was very pleased with his side’s preparation, having arrived in New Zealand on 3 January.
“It's been very worthwhile arriving early and assessing the playing conditions and the weather. We've had two practice matches and the final two warm up matches before the tournament starts.
“Our bowling and fielding are good. Our batting has been going really well, and hopefully we can carry that form through to the tournament.”