Jared Davids is the ICCA Development & Performance coach and the Bowling Coach of the UAE U-19 cricket team.
In this exclusive feature, Sportageous caught up with Jared Davids to discuss and analyse coaching in the UAE, his career and the future of aspiring players at the home of the ICC and ICC Academy.
Kinza Tahir: Tell us about your journey in cricket, what appealed to you to play the game?
Jared Davids: Firstly, let me say thank you for this opportunity to share my journey in cricket with you and all your followers. Well, in a sense cricket found me at an early age, at 7 years old.
I played street cricket in the township where I grew up and my love sort of grew from there. At first, the appeal was just getting out of the house and being around my mates and on green grass under blue skies, for me, there is no better place to be than under God’s blue sky and rolling around on His green grass.
The game of cricket has also saved my life as it was the one constant that kept me sane when things were not always going my way.
How is your experience so far being the bowling coaching of the under-19 UAE cricket team?
The experience has been tremendous! Over the last 3 years, we have developed a system that has depth whereas before it had none.
With some real talent on display within our local structures, my job is really made a lot easier in developing the top schoolboy/girl for the next tier of their development.
What were your expectations regarding coaching the UAE team?
Our goal has always been to be the top associate nation on the world stage. The work that we started three years ago has started to bear fruit with a number of our u-19s being called up to the senior team.
With many other nations chasing the likes of the Netherlands, Scotland and Nepal our focus has been set on closing that gap and getting our players to buy into our process.
How did you decide to join the ICC Academy as a cricket development and performance coach? What has been the highlight of your time there?
I applied for the job with the view of expanding my coaching as well as challenge myself in a totally different environment. With the vast number of nationalities in one place I was an opportunity I could pass up.
With some real talent on display within our local structures, my job is really made a lot easier in developing the top school boy/girl for the next tier of their development.
The highlight so far is being able to spread the gospel of cricket to many young and aspiring cricketers. On a personal level, it has been in my development as a coach to have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with and pick the brains of the coaching elite who walk through our doors so often.
How do you think cricket has developed in the last few years in the UAE in terms of perception amongst the masses and generally?
Cricket has exploded in the last 5 years since the UAE men’s team qualified for the 2015 World Cup. It has sparked a real interest in the game.
Before cricket in the region was still seen as an expat sport, but now we are seeing a lot more interest, especially at the ICC Academy, within the local Emirati community. This can only bode well for the future of the game as well as the future of the game within the UAE.
Who is your favourite cricketer of all time?
It has to be the original master blaster, Sir Vivian Richards.
How do you think the domestic players are facilitated and is there support for them in the UAE to show their talent?
With the amount of cricket, our top domestic players play there is no shortage of opportunity to showcase their talents. However, the challenge has always been the context in which the games are played.
I always admired the likes of Khurram Khan for his outstanding record and for the positive attention he brought to UAE cricket.
Playing a game for the sake of it does nothing for one’s cricket. There has to be something to play for in order to develop the competitive side to your game.
Bowling is particularly difficult without proper training and preparation. How do you think the players have adapted to your coaching style and how is it working for them?
It has taken time to get the buy-in from the older players but speaking strictly within an u19 development context it was actually quite easy. The first part of the journey is TRUST!
Once you have their trust the process becomes a lot easier to buy into and training and preparation fall into place. My coaching mantra is to draw out from the players.
I firmly believe that a player will know themselves best. It’s my job to get the player to that level where he no longer needs me.
Cricket is entirely different in UAE as it’s still evolving compared to Pakistan and India. How do you think players who have made history are prepped by the coaches?
I cannot speak for what has come before arrival, however, having observed how things were done, it left a lot to be desired. I always admired the likes of Khurram Khan for his outstanding record and for the positive attention he brought to UAE cricket.
How does the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) differ from the Pennisula Cricket Academy and the other places you have coached before? How does the coaching process vary?
They differ in terms of scale. ECB is responsible for all cricket within the UAE and is the governing body tasked with regulating and developing the game across the 7 Emirates.
Pennisula Cricket Academy( PCA) was a regional academy tasked with developing players that could represent Cape Cobras/ Western Province cricket at u13- u19 age group.
How should cricket be incorporated at school level when children are at the age of developing long-term habits?
Cricket has been a part of the curriculum. In South Africa cricket is a way of life just like Rugby and Football. With the number of distractions and other sports vying for kids attention these days, The best solution is to have it as part of their development at school.
How has coaching enabled you to grow in the game?
Apart from the actual skill side of things, I’ve developed my interpersonal skill, my relationship with all my players. Having walked in their shoes it has helped me be more empathetic to their struggles as well as keeping them grounded.
How have you kept yourself fit and busy during the pandemic and what are your plans post-COVID-19?
I’ve gone up on my reading and dusted off the weights. I’m not big on weights I prefer road running. I snuck out every night for an hour when the roads were clear. Post-Covid it has to be about your mental health.
This time has really taken its toll on millions. Within a cricketing context, it’s about managing players anxiety and to slowly get them back into the swing of things.
How do you think the opportunities and facilities have been accelerated as the ICC has its head office in the UAE now?
Its been a massive bonus for us as we are able to train pretty much all year round. We have one of the best facilities in the world and that can only bode well for the development of good robust cricketers.
What would you tell an aspiring cricketer who wants to play professionally?
Hard work, works! Do not cut corners and always be willing to ask questions. Be honest with yourself always know that that the journey for being a successful cricketer in not linear. Accept the setbacks and work even harder.