'Give them opportunities' - Herath on lack of legspinners in Bangladesh

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Herath worked with Bangladesh for two and a half years.
Herath worked with Bangladesh for two and a half years. © BCB

Bangladesh's outgoing spin bowling coach Rangana Herath can be a satisfied man considering the spinners played a vital role in winning the first Test at home against New Zealand. The Sri Lankan had a long chat with Cricbuzz during which he spoke about the different coaching philosophies of Russell Domingo and Chandika Hathurusingha, Bangladesh's inability to produce leg spinners and a lot more.

Here are the excerpts:

How was your stint with Bangladesh?

I worked with Bangladesh for two and half years and I enjoyed a lot. As a coach there were some challenges as well but there was lot to celebrate as well. So I must thank BCB for giving me this opportunity. I enjoyed a lot with the players and the team environment.

You just mentioned there were challenges. What were the major challenges you faced as a coach?

We play in different conditions and different venues and those are the challenges; how you adapt to those conditions and environments and how you adjust your technique and sometimes mentality as well. So in that sense we have some challenges but we managed to get it done most of the times. A few areas to improve remain and we need to work on them actually.

For most part of your tenure, you didn't have Shakib Al Hasan consistently in the team as he was playing some games and missing others. How did you motivate other spinners to fill in?

As you said, Shakib is our main player and one of the best all-rounders going around but whoever it is who plays as a spinner, he has to be very accurate and very responsible. That is why I mentioned Taijul as he has been doing well over the years. Whether Shakib is there or not, Taijul's role is very important in Bangladesh cricket.

Our spinners don't seem to be turning the ball as much as other spinners, say Keshav Maharaj...

It all depends on what kind of surface we are going to play on. When we are playing on our home soil in Bangladesh, our spinners get turn. Maharaj is from South Africa and he is always trying to keep his action and alignment right so something we need to learn from these guys as well. But spin bowling is not only how much you turn the ball but it is also about how you can read the batter and the situation and how you can bowl according to it. That's how I see spin bowling because if it is spinning then everyone can turn the ball. But if you can do something different, like if you can bowl a straight one and if you can play the angle which is very hard for the batters... that's how I see spin bowling. But if you can turn the ball, it is fantastic actually most of the time. The other thing, for example, Naeem Hasan has played for two years. I think he bowled very well and created a lot of pressure and is a good prospect for Bangladesh.

Do you feel Bangladeshi spinners are a bit defensive in terms of mindset? We tend to bowl not to buy wickets but stop runs. Is that a philosophy that works for Bangladesh?

Normally for a spinner, if you try to buy a wicket you are going to be expensive. So if you can bowl creating pressure and then if you can get a wicket that is the ultimate goal, that is what I thought like because with finger spinners you have to have the proper accuracy. That is why we always praise Taijul, Miraj and Nayeem. When it comes to wrist spinners, it is not easy to get that hundred percent accuracy and that is why they are giving some loose balls and keep getting some wickets as well. But you can create the pressure by bowling good balls as well and challenging the batter's forward defence.

Why do you think there is no legspinner coming out of Bangladesh? Do you feel we don't have the culture to develop legspinners?

I won't say no culture because we need to give opportunity to the players. It can be a wrist spinner or a finger spinner, if you don't give opportunity how can they improve? The finger spinners get more in terms of opportunities. I always say if you want to groom a proper chinaman or a legspinner, you need to give them proper opportunities because if you rush them and the expect outcomes, we are in trouble. We need to give them some time to get some experience and get some knowledge because as a wrist spinner there is a lot to follow in terms of the process and we need to be patient actually.

India's R Ashwin bowls the carom ball but when it comes to Bangladesh off-spinners, there is no one with such kind of variations...

Even without bowling that carom ball, you can create pressure by bowling the sliders, cross-seam and using the angles. And these guys doing those things at the moment.

Do you think that is the best thing: bowling to your strength rather than trying new things?

I don't mind trying new things but before you apply it to your game, you've to do the homework. That is the only thing I suggesting for them.

What went wrong with Nasum Ahmed at the World Cup?

It was a bit of a disappointing tournament for him. We selected him because of his height and the pace he bowled but unfortunately he could not make it work during the World Cup. But that is the way forward for Bangladesh cricket. I think when we go to a World Cups, we need to stick to our strengths and identify our role first.

You worked with two different coaches with Bangladesh. One was Russell Domingo and the other one was Chandika Hathurusingha. How different are they in terms of approach?

Everyone has different philosophy and different approach to coaching. Before Russell, I knew Chandika very well because I played with him and I played under him and when I was playing he coached me as well, so we had a better understanding, a better relationship. When it comes to Russell, he is a professional and expects the same from others. Chandika likes to work more with the tactical aspects of the game.

You worked with Bangladesh for quite some time and whenever Bangladesh isn't doing well, there is a lot of criticism from everywhere including the media and the board directors. Do you feel these outside noises have an impact on the players?

Maybe, they (cricketers) get some disturbance from the noise outside. One thing we need to understand is that they need support from outside as well as from the managements and board directors. We need to think about how we get the culture of a winning team. Obviously we need to perform and win the bigger tournaments, and for that we need to go in one direction and we need the support from as many people as possible.

You want to say we need to look forward and leave behind the World Cup debacle because blaming the players doesn't help?

It is easy to blame the players but we need to understand that everytime they are trying to give their best. After this World Cup, we need to now think about the T20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy, and we need to plan out properly: what kind of team we are going to play at the ODI and T20 World Cups and Champions Trophy. Because if we don't plan from now, then then there's no chance we are getting results in our favour. We need to understand the plans not only of players and coaches but also the board which will need to understand what kind of a direction the team management wants to go.

What is your plan now?

Basically I am still in discussion with BCB about the way forward actually. Hopefully we will have a good discussion once I go to Australia. From my side, I am not available this December and January. So if I am coming back at all, it will be from the month of February.

Are you planning to join one of the franchise T20 leagues?

No. For these two months I will be at home because there are lots of family commitments.



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