Stand-in coach looking forward to preparing the team for twin tours of Bangladesh and Pakistan
Glenn Pocknall was shocked to find out he was named stand-in coach for New Zealand’s tours of Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Pocknall, who has had tremendous success with Wellington Firebirds, was appointed as Gary Stead’s replacement for the T20Is in Bangladesh and ODIs in Pakistan before Shane Jurgensen takes over for the Pakistan T20Is.
“I recalled the story with the players in our first team meeting: I was at the indoor centre in Wellington when I got a call,” Pocknall said at his first press conference in Dhaka. “I was pretty shocked and overwhelmed. It was totally out of the blue. I spoke to my partner when I got home. I got excited very quickly.
“As much as I have always wanted to coach the Black Caps, it wasn’t something in the front of my mind. I am very proud and privileged to be working here with this great bunch of guys.”
The appointment is in line with NZC’s mental health policy that applies to both players and coaches, something Pocknall touched upon too.
“New Zealand Cricket’s well-being policy is put in place for both players and coaches,” he said. “It allows the players in the starting XI and main coaches an opportunity to really refresh. Otherwise they have five or six months on the road which can become mentally draining in the world we are living in, at the moment.
“It is a fantastic initiative by NZC. They will see how this goes and there will be feedback from stakeholders, to give them an idea if this can continue in the future.”
What is his coaching style like? Pocknall admits to being drawn in by data, but won’t let it be the only point of influence. He also believes in how conditions and opponents can change in a moment, and wants to prepare his team accordingly.
“I use the data to get some information to discuss plans and have conversations, but also in the back of your mind, have the ability to change if that’s required in a match situation,” he explained.
“Data gives you a snapshot of history. It is important as cricket is a number’s game. At the same time, the beauty of the game is that conditions and oppositions can change. Sometimes you need to adapt and change on the fly.”
The Shere Bangla National Stadium, particularly in September when it is still officially off-season in Bangladesh, can have unpredictable pitches. Earlier this month, Bangladesh crushed Australia 4-1 on pitches that offered a lot for the spinners and any pace bowler willing to cut his fingers across the ball. The scoring rate was lower than how teams often score in T20s at this venue.
Pocknall said New Zealand are ready for a similar experience although he hopes the surfaces will be better. However, when it comes to preparation, he insisted they will train keeping in mind how things panned out when Australia toured.
“We have a perception of how we think they will play based on having a look at it, and the recent Australia series, but history suggests the surfaces played quite differently,” he said. “We have to be open about preparing for both scenarios.
“We are probably preparing for a slow and low wicket like the Australia series. We are not used to that. But if it has a bit more pace and bounce, we will be quite happy with that.”
Pocknall will have some subcontinent experience in the form of Thilan Samaraweera in the support staff group.
The former Sri Lanka batter is part of the unit as batting coach, who previously worked with Bangladesh until 2017. Pocknall, meanwhile, has already picked the brains of Jamie Siddons, who was head coach of Bangladesh from 2007 to 2011.
“I have worked with Jamie (Siddons) for three years. He has good knowledge on the conditions, and likewise for Thilan (Samaraweera). So it is about gathering all that information and simplify it before passing it on to the players. At the end of the day, we still have to prepare for the unexpected. Pitches and conditions can change. These things can change from time to time.
“Samaraweera has been great. He has had a bit of experience with the Bangladesh team, as well as a coach and a player in Asian conditions. He is helping the batsmen by giving them more options of playing spin bowling. It is hopefully going to be invaluable for us in these matches.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84