We often talk about cricketers, their life story, their journey, their struggles and how they inspire millions like them to choose cricket, to move forward with it and to conquer these 22 Yards to the best of their ability. But little do we talk about the humans behind sharpening and shaping these idols that we worship today! We know how skillful our players are and what are the top-notch skills that they possess but the people behind them must be credited to the fullest.
It is the coaches and trainers of these cricketers who have been working so hard and have dedicated themselves to creating these players into legends. Moreover, identifying the jewels from their rawest forms. One such man is Mark Coles, the Head Coach of the Pakistan women’s cricket team. The man who promotes fearlessness and promotes the sense of braveness in cricket to his team.
Team Female Cricket brings Mark Coles’ thoughts on Pakistan cricket, how has it shaped over the years, what more has to be done and what is his idea of coaching in an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
1. Pakistan’s women team did not have a good outing at the Women’s World Cup 2017 in July. They lost all seven matches, finishing eighth in the round-robin. And 2 months later, you decided to join the team in September 2017. Wasn’t it challenging? What gave you the confidence to take up this role?
I enjoy challenges and I watched from my couch in New Zealand during the Women’s Cricket World Cup 2017 and could see the talent the players had, it was about giving them the belief they could compete and the belief in their own abilities.
2. What developments you’d like to see in the domestic circuit? What is being done to increase the bench-strength or creating second pool of players?
The PCB has been very supportive and we are starting to see some great young talent coming through, we are getting structures in place and will continue to put pathways in so we are building to the 2021 Women’s World Cup.
3. Pakistan last played South Africa in May 2019. Pakistan next plays Bangladesh Women in September this year. What were the key takeaways from the previous series and is there any change in the way the team is preparing for the upcoming tours?
We played some good cricket against South Africa, but we have areas to improve in, we keep working on our fielding but we have improved our fitness and have some really good benchmarks we are working to, players are now understanding that if you don’t reach those benchmarks then you are no longer selected for the squad. Gemaal Hussain (Team Trainer) has done a great job in this area.
4. What was the first team discussion like when you met the Pakistan team in September 2017? What did you tell them?
I said, “If we are going to be better we need to be better together.”
5. How important is being fearless / playing attacking brand of cricket in a modern cricket age?
Very important, and we need to keep developing this side of our game.
6. As a coach, how do you motivate a player who is not amongst the runs/wickets?
Trust yourself and your ability, be brave and play with a smile! Don’t think too much, go back to what you know!
7. What’s your take on the yo-yo test? Do you feel that fitness is that one parameter today that differentiates a good player from the best one?
The Yo-Yo is one test we do but it’s not the most important, fitness is a percentage of selection but understanding your role in the team and having players believe in a game plan that they can own and the team’s game plan is important, that then gives the athlete clarity.
8. With dominant teams like Australia and England, there’s always a “problem of plenty” with so many players from the domestic circuit competing for a place in the final XI. Do you think Pakistan Cricket should take a lesson or two from these nations and build a similar pool? Or does it already exists?
Look Australia is clearly out in front, but we aren’t Australia, we have our own strengths and weakness, be who you are and be the best you can be, we are starting to build a good crop of young players which is important for the future.
9. Having coached the team for around 2 years now (September 2017 to September 2019), how has the journey been so far?
Really exciting and I have enjoyed the journey a lot, we have a great group of young ladies who are starting to create a legacy for other young females in Pakistan, we always talk about leaving the jersey in a better place than when you found it, they are starting to make that a reality.
10. Where do you see Pakistan cricket in another 5-6 years and how do you think you can get there? What’s stopping it now?
We are making good progress, we have a great group of young players coming through so it looks in great heart, we have really worked hard on who will replace our older players, it’s now about getting more opportunities to play against other A teams around the world.
11. What is it that you have brought to this team as a coach?
Getting the players to understand that winning is an outcome and to be more focused on what role you play in the team, understanding that role and being the best you can be, enjoying the game, being brave and having a real pride about playing for Pakistan!
12. Do you think Pakistan plays enough matches at the international and domestic level?
It’s getting better and better and will continue to get busier for the players, we need to be playing against the best teams but you have to gain that respect, I think we have made small steps to gain that trust but we still have a long way to go but I am very confident that this present group will help us get there.