We need to keep winning in one day cricket and start learning all about Test cricket: Siddons
31-October-2007 Just a day into his new job as the Bangladesh Cricket Team coach Jamie Siddons paid a visit to the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur where he’ll spend a good deal of his working hours over the next 24 months with his charges. Siddons has taken up the Bangladesh position as a challenge and the soon to be Tigers’ Home of Cricket would be the focal point of training activities for the National Team and the coach, sporting a Tigers' ODI shirt, looked around with genuine interest and excitement as he met the curator, saw the pitch, the indoor and outdoor training facilities, players’ dressing rooms, gym and other establishments at Mirpur. Siddons, who will return to Bangladesh in the third week of November to start the camp for the Tour of New Zealand, spoke to TigerCricket.com about his aspirations and dreams with the Tigers and shared his cricketing philosophy. Excerpts of the interview taken by Noman Mohammad at Mirpur follow:
Noman Mohammad (NM): A couple of months ago you were approached by the BCB but declined to take up the Bangladesh position. What prompted the change of heart?
Jamie Siddons (JS): There were certain personal issues I had to sort out back home but I will not go into those. The timing was not right for me when I was first offered the job. A few things happened in the last month or so which have made it a little easy for me to accept the job. I have played first class cricket for 23 years. I was an assistant coach for five years. Now I think it is time for me to step in for a job with a full national side. To take charge of a national team was my ultimate goal and now that I have got that opportunity I am really keen to get started.
NM: You worked as a senior coach in the Australian Cricket Academy. You spent some time with the Australian national team too. Now you are about to take charge of Bangladesh. Is this your biggest challenge so far as a coach?
JS: Absolutely, without any doubt. Probably it is a natural progression but I do not think that it is going to be easy. I have to work really, really hard. I need the support from the administration and my support staff. I think I have got a lot of things to offer to Bangladesh cricket in the coming months.
NM: A coach’s job is to guide the players and bring out the best in them. Some feel that guidance is more needed at a tender age rather than in the National team. Do you agree with that?
JS: To some extent yes, but I think Bangladesh has got a national team with a lot of young cricketers so the guidance is very important there as well. Hopefully my job as the coach of the national team will involve guiding the coaches of the junior teams and the development squads also and hopefully the things that I am doing at the top will be happening down below as well. It is really important that the young players do not come to the national team with a lot of deficiencies. As a National coach I do not want to deal with the minor issues that should have been solved a lot earlier in players’ career.
NM: The fact that Bangladesh has a youthful national side does that make your job easier or harder?
JS: It would have been great for me to be the coach of Australia (laughs). It is great for Tim Nielsen at the moment. He has got some really talented, top ranked players of the world and the best team in the world. It is really nice to be Tim at the moment but I am not. I have got young players in my side who I think are enthusiastic and ready to learn. I can see a massive improvement if they are given the right guidance and their mental approach is right. That is the challenge for me.
NM: You were as a top class batsman and a brilliant fielder. Bowling was not your specialty. Do you feel any necessity of a specialist bowling coach in your coaching staff?
JS: Definitely I think there is a place for the bowling coach in the structure of the Bangladesh national team. I would have every aspects of the game covered if I could but we can’t take twenty people on tour. We put a few names out there. I will ask for what I want whether I get that or not. I think the Board will consider that with great importance.
NM: The Australians have changed the mentality of Test match batting which nowadays is a lot more aggressive. Bangladeshi batsmen generally have the natural aggressive instinct. Do you feel that they should carry that instinct to the Test level too?
JS: Obviously you got be aggressive for success at any level of cricket. But at the same time you need to be sensible. You got to be able to jump on the bad balls, make the ball percentages of the danger areas very small and make the bowlers worry about where you would go to hit them. But you also got to leave a lot of balls alone in Test cricket if you want to get success. I think Bangladeshi batsmen need to learn how to blend that perfectly. They should hit the bad balls for fours. There is no point to bat for two hours and score only 20 but if the opposition bowled two very good hours then someday you have to be satisfied with 20 and remain not out. That is my challenge, to educate the batsmen when to go and when not to go.
NM: You came to Dhaka on the same flight with few of the Bangladeshi players including skipper Mohammad Ashraful. You must have talked to them. What is your first impression?
JS: We really had a brief chat because we were late for the plane. We talked a little while and got introduced to each other. It was great to see some of the faces that I am going to see over the next two years. That was a small introduction and hopefully I will soon meet the other players and the coaching staff.
NM: Coach-captain relation is pivotal for the success of any team. What kind of understanding do you seek with Mohammad Ashraful?
JS: Coach-captain relation is massively important. Ash is a young captain as far as his international experience counts. I am a young coach as well. We might have different ideas, we might have same ideas but more importantly we need to bring them together so that the players can follow the direction where we want to take them. Our chats will be often and long and hopefully our relationship would be a fantastic one that will take Bangladesh cricket forward.
NM: How would you present yourself to the Bangladeshi cricketers? As a teacher or as a friend?
JS: Ofcourse as a teacher but I will hope to earn their respect and be a friend to them but not too close.
NM: Bangladesh has made considerable progress in ODIs in the last 3-4 years but the Test matches remain the problematic area. Will you work on that and particularly focus on Test cricket?
JS: Definitely not. We need to keep winning in one day cricket and start learning all about Test cricket. I do not think that we can do that overnight. Our focus will be on both one-day cricket and Test cricket. The basics of cricket are pretty simple—batting well, bowling well and fielding well. We will be working on the basics of the game.
NM: Bangladesh has won a lot of ODIs over the last few years but why have they not got the same kind of success in Tests in the same period?
JS: Only because of failing to apply the different mental approach to the game and knowing when to execute that skill and when to hold back. There is no difference in skills. The timing of when they are playing certain shot needs to improve. They got the shots obviously because they do it in one-day cricket but they do not pick the right time to do that in Tests. That is for the difference in mental approach.
NM: Would you like to be in the selection panel?
JS: I am going to have a chat with the selectors and the Board members and see what they think. But I would like to play a part in the selection panel.
…but you still do not know the players
JS: In the beginning I would be glad to sit there in the selection panel and listen to everything the selectors discuss. I would put my requirements and hope that they will give me the team according to that.
NM: How important will your relationship be with the administration and the media for getting desired success?
JS: It is really important. We got to understand that we are all on the same boat. Our goal is the same and that is the progression of Bangladesh cricket. If we want to go forward we all need to work together. If we fight each other and not go in the same direction then it is going to be really hard for the coach to have success. So I am looking forward to a good working relationship with everyone in administration and media.
NM: Are you going to do homework on Bangladeshi players before you come back to take full charge of the national team?
JS: I will come back probably in the third week of November. In the meantime I got to put together a program for the lead up to the New Zealand tour. I think I will get the National players in the camp for around 15 days. So my job would be to come back with a complete training schedule. Beside that I am taking a lot of video footages of the Bangladeshi players. I will analyze those. I will get the opposition’s footage as well. I will try to find their strong and weak points.
NM: In two years where do you want to see Bangladesh cricket?
JS: I want to see that our performance is improving all the time and moving up the rankings. It does not mean that my aim is to take Bangladesh to number two or number three position in the ranking. My philosophy is very simple. Daily improvement is my aim. We want to do better from what we did in the last match. I think we will definitely be a much improved team in two years. How improved? Well, time will tell.
NM: Now, on your career as a player. Shane Warne has bracketed you in the list of the 50 greatest cricketers he has ever seen. How do you feel about that?
JS: I played with Shane and against Shane. He has obviously seen a lot of good cricketers. I feel honored that Shane has put me in that bracket. In fact some people get a bit of humor out of it because I have never played Test cricket. But at the same time a lot of people respect the fact that I was a reasonable batsman, a reasonable fielder. Although I must admit that I may been a little bit overrated in Shane’s estimations. That is my humble assessment.
NM: You are considered as one of the best batsmen never to have appeared in the famous Baggy Green cap in Tests. How do you see that?
JS: I am obviously disappointed that I did not get the opportunity to bat in Test Cricket. David Boon, Dean Jones, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Allan Border—all great cricketers for Australia were there ahead of me. I consider myself a little bit unlucky that those all great batmen were around in my era. I got a couple of opportunities though but did not probably take them when I could have. You got to take your opportunity when it comes. That is what I am asking the Bangladeshi batsmen to do (laughs).
NM: At the end of your playing career why did you get interested in coaching?
JS: Even during my playing career I was really interested in improving the players around me. That was something in-built in my leadership skills and that sort of directed me that way to help bring other people underneath me through. As the captain of South Australia that was really my job to bring the players through and teach them how to bat, how to bowl, how to field. I had been acting as a coach while I was the captain. So it is a natural progression for me to become a coach after ending my playing careers.