Pringle aiming to help Oman into first World T20
A year ago, Derek Pringle might have expected to be sitting at Cardiff and Lord's in the middle of July in his longtime role as the correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. But, in his own words, the former England Test player was "made redundant in the winter" and, as so often is the case, an opportunity curiously opened in the most unlikely of places.
"One of my mates from Essex, John Stephenson who is head of cricket at the MCC, and Pankaj Khimji [director of Oman Cricket Club] approached me in February and said Oman have been to this stage of major competitions before and never proceeded any further," Pringle told ESPNcricinfo ahead of Oman's elimination clash against Namibia on Thursday at Malahide. "Can you help us out try and get to grips with British conditions, and I said sure."
So instead of giving his take on Ashes tussles, he was hired as a technical advisor for Oman at the World Twenty20 Qualifier in Ireland and Scotland. After going winless in the group stage in 2012 during their last trip to the qualifier in the UAE, Pringle has been along for the team's ride and they are now one win away from reaching the World T20 after notching three unlikely wins in Scotland during the group stage.
Pringle looks a bit sheepish when asked if he has been the magic ingredient for the team's turnaround in fortunes between 2012 and now. Instead he says he's offered a few tips to a group of some genuinely talented players who have been eager to listen.
"I've offered suggestions and wanted them to play smarter cricket," Pringle said. "T20 cricket is all about making the right decisions under pressure. It's a game where you've got to get on with it and be aggressive. There's aggression that's controlled and there's aggression that's madness, and we want the former. I've spoken to them and sometimes they forget themselves but generally they've listened hard and tried to put things into practice."
Oman narrowly lost to Kenya by seven runs in their first match of the tournament, but bounced back against Canada by chasing 134 in 11.2 overs. They stunned Netherlands courtesy of a brilliant late-innings spell from Munis Ansari to set up a simple chase and then put in their best effort to date with a 40-run win over Afghanistan.
"I must admit that I didn't know much about Canada's bowling but I said to Zeeshan Maqsood after that knock [86* against Canada] that I don't think Chris Gayle could have played a better knock than that. He lost six balls in the river at Stirling. It was immense hitting and a fantastic knock that got us away in the competition. Munis Ansari is a bit of an unusual bowler like Lasith Malinga with a bit of a low arm but very controlled. He had a bad game against Scotland but generally he's been very consistent.
"In the game against Canada the batting fired, the game against Netherlands the bowling fired and in the game against Afghanistan, both aspects fired. So I've told them that's the game we want to try and replicate. They used their brains there, batted well to get a competitive score, and then bowled and fielded like demons."
Pringle says though he was hired specifically as a technical advisor to assist the team in British conditions for this tournament, he would be open to any offer the team may put forward to keep him on board for the tournament in India should they qualify. Either way, he says despite not having "all of the [coaching] badges you need these days", he is happy to pass his knowledge on.
"It's fresh ground for me but I always say to people it's not rocket science. I might not have a computer program but I understand the game of cricket. I've enjoyed it thoroughly and it's been an interesting experience."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna