The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Bangla’s defeatist attitude has to go’

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s outgoing cricket coach Dav Whatmore said on Monday that he would try to break the “defeatist attitude” of the Bangladesh national team and he was looking forward to the “enormous challenge” of coaching them.

He also vowed to ensure a one-day International victory for the side that has lost 35 of its 36 matches with one match being rained off. Bangladesh have yet to win a Test match since being granted Test status in 2000.

Whatmore, whose two-year position begins June 1, said his initial plan was to build individual players and give them confidence to win international matches.

Whatmore replaces Sarwar Imran, who was appointed last month for an interim period after Pakistani Mohsin Kamal was sacked following Bangladesh’s poor World Cup showing.

“There is good talent, but the team has a defeatist attitude,” Whatmore said. “What needs to be done is to change that basic attitude. When individual players perform better, the entire team will improve.

“This is a challenge and I am happy with challenges. I always liked challenges,” said Whatmore who coached Sri Lanka to their 1996 World Cup victory.

The Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) effectively sacked Whatmore last month when it refused to extend his contract that was set to expire at the end of May.

“Whatmore has been with the team for a long time and what we feel is that there should be fresh thinking,” said Anura Tennekoon, the board’s chief executive officer.

Whatmore admitted that his relations with some of the Sri Lankan cricketers and officials had been strained at times, but declined to elaborate.

“The current interim committee (of the BCCSL) has decided to move in a different direction with coaching and I have no problems with that,” Whatmore said. “I have always said there are only two types of coaches — ones that are sacked and ones that are about to be sacked.”

BCCSL authorities have yet to find a replacement for Whatmore.

Duleep Mendis will act as interim coach for Sri Lanka in the series against New Zealand and Pakistan in April and May.

Whatmore said the biggest challenge for Sri Lanka, who he coached since 1999 after an earlier stint in 1995-96, is their performance on the road.

“It remains a bugbear for me that the team has not been able to perform outside of conditions in the sub-continent. They just haven’t had the practice,” he said.

He called their performance at the World Cup, “a strange mix of brilliant performances on the one hand and bitterly disappointing ones on the other,” and singled out off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for special praise.

“He’s been a player that will stop at nothing to get the best for the team... I rarely come across a true champion,” he said. ”Champions are also the hardest people to manage,” he added with a smile.

Whatmore, a Sri Lankan-born Australian national, said he and his family were leaving Sri Lanka with mixed feelings.

“We dearly love this country and its people and wish to thank them for their incredible support wherever we travelled in the island,” he said.

“It is a humbling feeling when people come up to you and talk wherever you go. People in this country have cricket in their hearts.”

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