In Cricket, even though there are only 11 men manning the field, there exists a 12th man who holds on the strings of the players, as if he were a puppeteer. He is the force behind a team, a force which can be positive or just the antithesis of it.
This one person is the coach. He is the one who has the capability to integrate the team, bring out the best in his men and help them overcome their inhibitions whatever, they might be.
When a team wins a match, the fans shout their love for a player and amidst all these love spurting, we forget to convey our thanks to the coach who, in essence was the main person behind all this joy and euphoria.
Records stand testimony to some of these individuals who took up the brave and daunting task of teaching. In this article; I have picked up five such gems who clearly devoted their minds and hearts to the one game we all love: Cricket.
1. Shane Warne [Rajasthan Royals]: He was chosen as the Coach-cum-Captain because of certain non-availability [hearsay is that the Jaipur team were unable to find a coach due to money matters].
Whatever might be the case, the team fell in good hands with skipper Shane Warne who decided to double as a coach too. And, what a job did he do! The team went to win the maiden IPL and with class and style.
On his part as the coach, Warne brought out talent to the front. Shane Watson and Swapnil Asnodkar, to name a few outshone quite a few highly preferred stars. Kudos to Warnie for doing this...
2. John Wright[ India]: He is my favourite coach till date and probably will remain until eternity.
He led India to victories that few might have expected while the highlight of his career as the Indian coach was India reaching the finals of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup.
His partnership thrived with Ganguly, the then captain of India and in spite of speculations and rumours that Ganguly was the dominant factor who didn't give Wright his share in the team's say, no one can argue with the fact that Guru Wright was the right choice for India.
3. Dav Whatmore[ Srilanka, Bangladesh and India U-19]: Whatmore will be more remembered as a coach than as a Cricket player.
In his tenure as the SL team coach, he was pivotal in their winning the 1996 World Cup and as the coach of the Bangladeshi cricket team he was one of the factors that contributed to their reaching round two at the ICC 2007 WC [the other factor was Guru Greg with his Men in Blue].
Also, the Indian U-19 team won the ICC WC held in Kuala Lampur in 2008 under him.
Dav Whatmore is in a way the kind of an ideal coach material and has brought success to any team that he has, so far mentored.
4. John Buchanan [Australia]: When Buchanan was the coach of the Australian side that won in 2003 WC, I kept on asking myself, when will this guy quit the team?
Truly, he was one of the best coaches of the Australian side who formed a twosome with Ricky Ponting winning the 2003 as well as the 2007 ICC World Cup. Statistics say that at one point of time, his record as a coach was 15 matches on 15.
After the 2007 WC, he quit the Australian national side and I guess the aftermaths are still being seen. Currently, he is the coach for the IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, though his magic is yet not weaved through the team lines...
5. Sandeep Patil [Kenya]: 2003 WC again. The three Semi-Finalists were accomplished cricket teams who had each won the World Cup once in the past. The fourth team was a complete shocker to everyone.
It was the minnow Kenya who had stunned and silenced everyone en route to the semis; and the one man running the powerhouse was former Indian middle order batsman, "Sandeep Patil."
2003 World Cup was a glow in his otherwise dim career as a cricket coach and the best World Cup season for the Kenyan national team and although his team lost out to India in the Semis, Sandeep Patil's acumen as a coach did get more than just passing glances after that.