Botswana primed for Twenty20 success - Menon
Thu, May 12, 2011 7:54 PM
Omar Ali launches on down the wicket
Botswana national cricket coach Arjun Menon is confident looking ahead to the ICC Africa Division 2 T20 competition that begins on Saturday in Benoni. Teams from Tanzania, Botswana, Nigeria, Ghana, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Malawi and Rwanda will converge on South Africa in a bid to be promoted to Division 1 and one step closer to the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier next year.
"I've taken out some of the older players and taken some new players - for example, Selvam Sathasivam whose lived here in Botswana for quite a few years now, he is a big hitter of the ball, who will make his debut in the tour. Taroesh Trivedi is back in the side, while Manan Bharot is also coming in and I'm also taking a youngster in the squad. My proudest achievement is taking a young boy from my under-15 side - Thatayaone Tshose who is a fantastic local talent.
"Unfortunately I've lost the services of Akrum Chand as captain, who is the best captain I've coached under, he has some family commitments so he comes out. Other than those four new players, the side will be the same as the one that featured in the recent Division 7 tournament - tt'll be a younger side, but not lacking in experience," said Menon.
With eight teams to face in the tournament, Menon believes two will pose the biggest threat, one of those being Nigeria that the side lost out to in the recently completed Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 7, and thus a place in Division Six in September.
"I think Tanzania's is a team we've struggled with in the past, according to previous coaches and Nigeria have shown to be a much stronger side now especially with Sean Philip in the fold. I don' think they're not beatable, they are beatable - we just have to get our game right against them. I think we play them in our fifth game and it will be a big thing for us to be them as the momentum could do wonders for us when we face Tanzania after Nigeria," he said.
Menon's side will also come up against Sierra Leone with newly appointed coach Peter Kirsten but Menon's is not concerned about the big name working with the West African side: "Previously, under other coaches, Botswana have always beaten Sierra Leone, so I am not too concerned even if they do have someone like Peter Kirsten coaching them.
"I can't see how much a coach can do in a short space of time, but you need to develop an ethos - I've been here since October last year and with the work I've put in I've seen huge changes but I can't see how much he could do for them in such a short space of time. At the end of the day we've not struggled against Sierra Leone and I don't expect it this time."
Finally, Menon feels his side will cope well with the conditions in Benoni and that the games will be very much about the batsmen in the side.
"I've worked in Benoni so I know the wickets there are pretty true and come onto the bat so I am expecting it to be quite conducive for batting, but our bowlers might take a bit of stick - but this is Twenty20 format of the game and you want to be able to get your strikers on the pitch and be able to hit the ball with the likes of Faisal Rana Rasheed and Selvam whose come in and even Omar Ali can hit long ways further down the order - so if the batting comes right in the tournament those wickets will suit us.
"The longer you stay out there batting your full overs the better your chances are - also there is a major fielding element. Botswana is more intense and sprightly in the field than it's ever been as a side so we don't need to change too much for this format, one thing I might say to the boys though is maybe take few more chance with Twenty20 and not feel so bad about getting out," concluded Menon.