Pybus lays focus on team, not stars
Bangladesh's laudable Asia Cup performance is a thing of the past. Come mid-June, the team will begin a new chapter: they will head off to the unofficial Twenty20 tri-series in Zimbabwe with a new coach, Richard Pybus, and with September's World Twenty20 on their minds. And Pybus, at his first press conference as coach, was clear about what his plan of action is - developing a fighting unit, without focussing on reputations.
"If you've got stars, you don't have a team," Pybus said in Dhaka on Monday. "I think the goal is to have a very strong team, where the players are playing for each other. It is important to leave our egos to one side and play for the badge and the country, making that the commitment. From my coaching experience, when you have a 'star' system, you've got problems."
Pybus arrived in Dhaka on June 2 and spent the following day getting introduced to the players. On Monday, he was officially presented to the Bangladesh Cricket Board's directors and the country's media. His talk of attaching little importance to stardom is in keeping with the previous coach, Stuart Law's, system of working.
Apart from the team culture he fosters, Pybus' tenure will be judged by how well Bangladesh fare in Test cricket. For that, Pybus will have to wait till November though, when Bangladesh play a Test for the first time in eleven months, against West Indies. He said he would use this time to prepare the team for the longest format's challenges.
"Test cricket is really the tree that grows your players," he said. "I am looking forward to playing stronger nations in Tests, that's the bottom line. As we work through the cricketing schedule, we'll make sure that we are doing everything in our power to be fully prepared [for Test cricket]."
Pybus will get the chance to get acquainted with his players in a closed environment in Zimbabwe, free from the pressures and expectations that could have hindered his early understanding of the team had their next series been at home. This, Pybus said, suits him.
"It is always nice to get away with a group of players rather than play at home, [without] the distractions you have when you're at home. Aside from this being an opportunity for the players to play high-level cricket, it'll be an opportunity for me to see how the team works. I don't want to change anything until I find out how it works."
So why did he take the job in the first place? For the sheer challenge that it offers, he said. "Part of it is the challenge of working with a young group of players and helping them develop, and identifying the key behind building a multi-format team.
"There's no magic wand here as a coach. It is about the desire, passion and skill level of the players. You need a core group of players, like in other countries. You need six to eight fast bowlers to fight for spots … There'll be no shortage of young spinners in Bangladesh because of the conditions, but out of all those spinners you need world-class spinners … When I talk of talent, I take it as a given anywhere around the world. It [coaching] is about maximising the talent."
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka