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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 12:49 GMT
Whatmore plans silent revolution
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport, Port Elizabeth

Dav Whatmore says his team deserve more respect
On Sunday night, Sri Lankan coach Dav Whatmore celebrated his 49th birthday in simple style.

He ambled across from the hotel where his team and their Australian opponents are both staying and selected an outdoor table at a seafood restaurant.

His sole companion was the team physio, Alex Kontouri, and the pair retired to their hotel early.

Now, seven years on from the day Sri Lanka beat Australia in the World Cup final, Whatmore has a chance of kicking the Aussies out of the tournament a stage earlier.

It is an outside chance, but in his own, quiet way, he is champing at the bit to put one over the Aussies again, despite his long career playing for Victoria and his seven Tests for Australia.

Whatmore, who coached Sri Lanka to their 1996 World Cup victory, relinquished the role a year later to take up a spell as coach of Lancashire.

Three years later he returned to Sri Lanka and their form, once again, returned in doubel quick time.

Whatmore is an immensely likeable character who is more likely to administer quiet words of encouragement in the dressing-room after a poor performance than a rocket.

Born: 16 March 1954
Playing career:
Victoria (1975-1989)
Australia (1979-1980)
7 Tests: 293 runs @ 22.53
1 ODI: 2 runs @ 2.00
Coaching career:
Sri Lanka (1995-1997)
World Cup title (1996)
Lancashire (1997-1999)
Sri Lanka (1999-present day)
39 Tests - W:18 L:13 D:8
104 ODI - W:61 L:39 T:1 NR:3
And there are signs that whatever happens on Tuesday, he is interested in staying at the helm of Sri Lankan cricket.

"I'm contracted until May," he says. "There are still some challenges there for me so beyond that it will be all about communication and dialogue with the Sri Lankan cricket board."

His team are still smarting from the rude thrashing they received at the hands of the Aussies 10 days ago.

And Whatmore is almost in awe when describing how good Ricky Ponting's men were that day.

"It was a never-ending flow of singles and then suddenly a four," he adds.

"It was all done with a minimum of risk. On that particular day it was an incredible performance from them."

He is also man enough to admit his team can be intimidated by the Aussie pacemen.

"That can happen on wickets that have pace and bounce," he says.

"But they still have to direct the balls in the right areas otherwise they can go for runs."

It was very important for Sri Lanka to make this semi-final for the whole country and now we can go even further
Sri Lanka coach Dav Whiatmore
Whitmore admits that other sides admire Australia, but by the same token clearly feels his own side deserve more respect than they sometimes get.

"The Sri Lankan team have to fight a little harder," he explains.

"It's still in some judges' eyes that we are not a powerhouse in world cricket, but we'eve made it in place of South Africa, New Zealand and England.

"I just feel it was very important for Sri Lanka to make this semi-final for the whole country and now we can go even further.

"There won't be too many Sri Lankan players who get an opportunity like this in their careers," he says.

"These sorts of games don't really come around very often - every four years and then you have to fight. If most of the boys can grasp that in their heads then there could be some joy."

It is hardly the most bullish of speeches, but don't rule out Sri Lanka yet.

Links to more Sri Lanka stories



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