Our Development Officers recently took over the running of a number of ACC Coaching Programs from Cricket Australia. How significant is this transition?

Actually we are the only region to have a number of ex-Test players as Development Officers, as the Development Manager and a Chief Executive who was a national player. Therefore we have a whole line up of ex-cricketers and I don’t think any other region has this level of experience. We are all practical people who’ve played the game in the middle and it is only now that ex-players are getting into commentary and other areas where communication is important. We did not have any of this during our time and so we were never asked to do a presentation or interview at the end of the match which is happening now and so the newer players are getting more experience in this area.

The ACC Development Team (from l to r) Development Officers Aminul Islam, Rumesh Ratnayake, Roger Binny; Development Committee Chairman Arjuna Ranatunga; Women’s Committee Chairperson Shubhangi Kulkarni; Bandula Warnapura; Development Officer Iqbal Sikander; Sports Medicine and Fitness Officer Dr. Vece Paes

Our main problem lies there because our Development Officers are really good in their practical knowledge but lack slightly in their communication and presentation. The presentation skills and the conducting of the courses of Cricket Australia were fantastic. This is what we have to learn now and our guys have taken on the challenge. I am happy that the recent Level II Coaching course in Kuala Lumpur was video-recorded in its entirety so we could go through it to see what we can better in ourselves.

Another problem is finishing the presentation in the allotted time given. There is so much practical experience that our Development Officers have and therefore, they tend to answer most questions at length. It is invaluable knowledge to the participants and makes it more interesting but if kept within the time frame, it would be perfect. I am confident that they will achieve this soon.

What incentives would you give countries that have worked successfully on their grounds and administration?

I’m not happy with all countries but Malaysia has enough grounds. This did not come easy and they still face a few problems with the preparation and quality of pitches which we will look into. Thailand too has good facilities in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. In Bangkok they have a problem of not owing a ground but we are already working on that. Initial negotiations have begun and right now it is just a matter of getting a lease from the ground owners. If we do get the ground Thailand will be the next best in this area. Kuwait also has four grounds and are going for the fifth one.

The incentives that can be given are for the countries which are ranked highest based on how much cricket is played and at what level we have to assist in constructing the required amount of grounds. If they have two to four grounds, it will be sufficient because we are looking to play ACC tournaments in our member countries. At the moment we can only play in Malaysia and a little bit in Thailand.

What I want to do is to send curators, based on their performance, on the recommendation of the Development Officers and the controlling bodies, to Test-playing countries. There they can learn the preparation of pitches for Test matches and ODIs. If we send two curators at a time for three weeks I am sure they will get the experience they and we are looking for. It should be the same for the coaches: local coaches who perform and do well will be sent to the Test nations to work with the academy coaches, for about three weeks. This will be part of a High Performance Program (HPP) for curators and coaches and could be considered an incentive for their hard work. This will also encourage others to perform well.

How much more can be done to develop cricket in these countries?

The governance is what is extremely important. All the people working in the governing body must be very, very serious and honest about this commitment. I am still studying the process and will be visiting the member countries. We need their support because the ACC can’t do this on its own. If the office bearer of the country is not interested, then we won’t be able to achieve what we and they want.

The ACC is responsible for the development of eighteen non-Test playing countries, would it be over-ambitious to add to that list now?

No, it won’t be. We do have countries who we thought would be good members but it’s sad to say that their development is not too great. We have to select and be careful and see how serious they are in getting involved with this game and to move forward. We can help them introduce and develop the game but it is entirely up to the home board to push and get the game going – and not just remain idle as a member. Their main objective should be to reach higher standards.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term as the ACC Development Manager?

We have a goal. It is to have qualifiers in the next World Cup. This is our target. Two or three of our members must be better than any other country in the Associates. This is what we want and in order to achieve this we need to work hard. We have to start from the bottom and make sure that our teams are better than all the teams from the other regions.

If we could achieve this, our member countries will receive even more funds and support from the ICC for development along with High Performance Programs and the future will not only look bright but also stable.

With Sri Lankan cricket being so close to your heart, are there any things you wish you could still be doing to develop cricket in Sri Lanka?

It would be to improve the standards and facilities of the schools, the clubs and the provinces. I would encourage them to all raise their own funds for cricket because there is a limit to how much you can get from the central body and in just relying on hand-outs you get lazy. There is a lot to be done especially because there is still so much wastage of efforts and money.

Filed October 7, 2008