Thursday, November 23, 2017

O'Neill working on improving Bangladesh batsmen’s Test temperament

  • Sports Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-08-06 23:08:11 BdST


Mark O’Neill visited Bangladesh in 2008 as New Zealand’s coach, but this time he is with the Tigers for his stint as their batting consultant.

Wiping the sweat off his forehead on Sunday, the Australian coach said, “It’s a bit too hot, but this time I’m enjoying my visit to Bangladesh more.”

O’Neill is taking pleasure in his new job as the players trained in the camp on their second day at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong.

“I am very, very impressed. The boys are doing well with the bat, today particularly. They are working on skills which could be useful for them in Tests. I’m happy with the way things are progressing,” he said.

Bangladesh batsmen, however, do not have too much time to benefit from his wisdom. BCB’s contract with him primarily runs for just a month. If he does well, a new deal may be in place.

“It’s difficult to make a permanent mark working just a month. We can work with minor things. It’s actually much like a trial. It’s like I’ve applied for a job, but I’m having to do the work before the exam,” said the witty 58-year-old coach.

With the Test series against Australia closing in, O’Neill is focused on working on their batting mentality in the longer format.

“I’m trying to make them more suitable to Test matches, making sure the boys realise the importance of a wicket. Not playing a poor shot even in the nets. Playing with a straight bat even in the nets, concentrating on timing and weight transfer rather than forcing a shot.

“The core of batting in Test cricket is patience, to stay firm in their strength and not to step into the strong zone of [opponents]. So assurance in crucial.”

One of O’Neill’s major responsibilities is helping the lower order batsmen improve. He believes the lower order can also help win matches.

“An issue with the lower order batsmen is that as they are bowlers, they don’t spend enough time with the bat, don’t get enough opportunities to practice.

“But in my playing and coaching career I’ve seen many times how the lower order survived to contribute to  a team’s victory.

“If we want something from them, they need some attention. They need time and opportunity with the bat. They have to be encouraged to play according to their strengths, to play a role and give strike to the batsman at the other end.”

The Australia series will surely put both Bangladesh and O’Neill to test.