After Pubudu Dassanayake stepped down from the post of Nepal national cricket team coach on July 20, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) appointed Manoj Prabhakar for the role.
The former Indian international cricketer had played 39 tests and 130 ODIs for India. He has also coached three Ranji Trophy teams in Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Briefly, he also worked with Afghanistan during the T20 World Cup held in India in 2016.
But, he has been surrounded by controversy. In 2011, he was sacked by Delhi after he publicly criticised the players and selectors. Hence, there are doubts if he can mend problems that the Nepal cricket is going through.
In this context, Manoj Prabhakar has spoken to the Nepali press for the first time as he prepares the team for the bilateral series with Kenya, in which he appeals to Nepali cricket fans to honestly believe in him, claiming he has some promises and plans for them.
For the first time, Manoj Prabhakar has been appointed as head coach of an ODI team. However, the coach believes this is not a new job for him, as whether he gets the role of the head coach or balling coach, his job is to improve the department he has been appointed to.
“Currently, I am working hard in correcting all the mistakes that our boys made earlier,” says Prabhakar. “The team of young players are very positive and eager to learn.”
Prabhakar is enjoying training the Nepali team and he believes the players are also happy with him.
The Nepal cricket team have already seen some foreign coaches over the past years. But, they also suffered from the coaches leaving them halfway. After Dav Whatmore, Pubudu Dassanayake also did the same. However, talking to Onlinekhabar at the Tribhuvan University International Cricket Ground, Manoj Prabhakar claims that he will not do so.
“The main thing is you have to be professional; when you sign a contract, you have to fulfil everything mentioned in the agreement,” he assures.
In recent times, Nepali national cricket has gone through various ups and downs, but the Indian coach says he is not aware of the fact. “I don’t know the past, but at present, I have got a very young team. They are working hard and making improvements in their game each day,” says Prabhakar.
“They have realised what I want to teach to them and are working on it.”
Yet, the main challenge for Manoj Prabhakar is to make each player realise their responsibility as a team member. He says the day when they realise their job, they will be ready to perform better. “They should know how to face the ball and bowl the ball, ” says Prabhakar.
For this, as a coach, he is focusing on each player’s strengths rather than weaknesses.
According to him, the team currently are in need of a couple of match winners and he has been working on it. Likewise, he is also looking for a number of all-rounders in the team. Being an all-rounder himself back then, Manoj Prabhakar shares, “A team can win the World Cup only when it has a good number of all-rounders.”
Nepal have already played 20 matches of the ICC League 2 and 16 matches are still left to play. In these remaining matches, Prabhkar’s goal is to win the majority of matches to elevate the rank of the team.
With that, Nepal are also set to tour Kenya to play against the hosts. The team will be playing five T20 internationals and three one-day matches.
Manoj Prabhakar says the team have been holding very good preparation although they are yet to fully realise the importance of training.
Hopes for the future
Meanwhile, to enhance the level of the team, Manoj Prabhakar also has a plan to take benefits from the Nepal T20 League starting next month. “I will watch all the matches and explore all the hidden talents.”
For the talented and potential ones, he will provide an opportunity in the national team. He believes doing so can form an excellent team for the future.
In recent times, some controversy about the lack of unity among the national players got exposed on media and social media platforms. However, the coach has not seen any kind of conflict among the players yet. He says “Everybody is fair and hardworking.”
The former captain of the national team Gyanendra Malla is also included in the current squad. He is back on the team after a long hiatus. Manoj Prabhakar expects that his experience will help all the youngsters and assist in forming a strong team.
With that, he hopes that during his tenure, the Nepali team will also get benefits from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Indian cricket governing body.
Lastly, to all the Nepali cricket fans, he says, “Just trust me.”