John Bailey, 44, believes that attaining success in cricket is a process and that is what Malaysia need to do – work towards success.
After spending years in England with Sussex schools and other teams, the South African was appointed by Malaysia to be their head coach for their national squad. He’s been doing it for two years and is now also the National Director of Coaching which has him overlooking even the age group squads.
A Level III accredited coach, Mr. Bailey is vastly experienced and highly motivated. Taking a morning off from coaching, he talked to us about cricket in Malaysia.
Would you rather coach a team with huge individual talents or a team with no big stars but one where the players get along and enjoy their cricket?
In today’s game ego is a huge player but I think its ones upbringing and culture is which helps them relate to one another. As long as the team can understand and relate to one another, cricket can be played to its best and this is the kind of team I’d like to work with.
How long have you been in Malaysia? What did you know about associate cricket before you came here?
I’ve been in Malaysia for just over two years now. I knew just a little bit about Associate Level cricket. In my province in South Africa, I remember a few squad members were in the team that lost a game to Nepal in the U-19 World Cup and they were subject to ridicule. And I got the impression that Nepal were hungry to prove themselves and were not to be underestimated.
Is the gap between teams like Malaysia and Nepal and the Test playing nations too big?
It is at different levels – at U-15, U-17 and U-19, it is pretty much competitive. The gap at the U-19 and junior level is much less than it is at the senior level. Almost all big cricketing nations have a strong school cricket set-up but when you’re playing them, you’re playing just one or two stars. The South African, English and Australian systems are all very good. All of them come up through that system and then the English go into the County setup. So the gap is more only in the senior level of cricket.
What would it take for a country such as Malaysia to focus on club-level cricket so as to raise the standard of the game?
There has to be a change in the mindset in the approach to the game. The emphasis has to be on growing and learning but at the moment, we’re more concerned about getting the results rather than growing the players. Winning is all very well. It’s always a great feeling to win but you still need to grow. I remember being at St. David’s Marist College in Johannesburg where the cricket was run by a person named Graham McMillan, Brian McMillian’s brother.
The person in charge of cricket in the prep school and I were chatting after a game, when Graham stopped by and asked about the game. He reminded us that he wanted players and not just results. The emphasis there was to grow the players, to allow everyone to have a game and make sure the team was rotated through the different skill levels.
At 13, you cannot be sure of who’s going to be what in the years to come. Andrew Hall, who’s now bowling and batting for South Africa, spent his high school as a wicket-keeper. So, everything is a process. The problem is all of us are caught up 'in the now', but if we’d have thought of now ten years ago, we’d be far ahead than what we are today.
Ratan Alam from Bangladesh has come on board as the U-19 Coach. How is he adjusting to the job here?
Ratan is an enthusiast and a bubbly sort of person. He’s adjusting to the pressures of the job just fine and is extremely hard working. I can clearly see his Level 3 skills he sets for the U-19’s and in everything else.