"The biggest challenge with this group is continuity" - USA Head Coach Jimmy Pamment on coaching an Associate Nation

Malhar Hathi

Jimmy Pamment

A balmy calm envelopes the Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana in Mumbai. The USA cricket team, ahead of their tri-series against hosts Nepal and Oman, have finished training for the day but their middle-order batsman Monank Patel is having an extended net session against a few local leg-spinners. He wants no stone left unturned before he faces Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane.

In the adjacent net, Interim Head Coach Jimmy Pamment is talking to the assistant coaches and a few locals. The USA had the momentum in the Cricket World Cup League 2 and he has plans to counter the spin threat. The tri-series later in the month saw USA return winless and conceding their top spot to Oman. At least it wasn’t due to lack of effort and preparation.

As Pamment walks down to where the players are cooling down, captain and former India U19 player, Saurabh Netravalkar is busy with media duties. He’s a local lad after all, having grown up on the very ground he stood on. Jimmy Pamment is no stranger to these pastures. He is the fielding and assistant coach for the Mumbai Indians and will return for his third season this year. He was a part of the domestic coaching setup back home in New Zealand for the Northern Districts working closely with the likes of Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Kane Williamson and Mitchell Santner to name a few. Following is an excerpt from the interview with Sportskeeda about the challenges in coaching an Associate nation, development of cricket in USA and the influx of foreign players holding a US passport.

Cricket shares a few similarities with baseball. How do you thrive in an environment back home where the sport is still on the rise? How do you aim to get the sport to the grassroots?

There are a few ambitious plans to encourage the youth to follow the pathway that’s being created through major and minor leagues in the future. I haven’t quite been in the USA for long but I do know that there’s a massive amount of cricket being played there. Obviously, development pathway is very important so that they can start developing some of their own homegrown players rather than being on the scout around the world for people carrying a US passport.

You’ve been a part of different coaching setups around the world. How different is it to coach an Associate nation than the likes of IPL and Test cricketers?

The biggest challenge with this group is continuity. They have big breaks in between two tri-series. They don’t go back to a good training environment, virtually nothing for a few months. One of the major differences in coaching is it isn’t even like first-class coaching. When you’re coaching these guys, you need to make sure you’re asking questions constantly so that they understand how their development is going to take place.

When you’re working with International cricketers or Mumbai Indians players, they generally know their own game whereas these guys are still very much searching to understand what their games are, so there is a lot more education required with this group. From a coaching point of view, it is quite exciting as that’s what I like. It brings out the best in you.

You talked about USA Cricket scouting players with USA passports. What do the likes of Rusty Theron, Ian Holland and Cameron Stevenson add to this group?

They add first-class experience and bring professional skills which is something even some of our boys, who have played in the Caribbean, their professionalism is nowhere near the level of those three guys. It’s a great opportunity as long as we allow them to teach and as long as they know how to teach them the rigours of being a professional cricketer.

The likes of Ali Khan and Hayden Walsh Jr. shot to fame in the Caribbean Premier League and were lost to the T20 leagues with the latter playing for the West Indies now. Is the CPL viewed as a boon or a bane back home?

Hayden Walsh is, of course, a West Indies player first and foremost and then through his parentage he had an opportunity to play for the USA. While America isn’t a development pathway and equally, I am sure a few of our boys would love to play for the West Indies but are playing for the USA. It’s all part of the process and the pathway. Until we really start to develop a lot of our own players then when these guys become available to play for USA, they won’t skip the opportunity to play International cricket.