Nooshin's Al Khadeer's rise as super coach of women's cricket
From Senior Women's One-day title to leading Supernovas to Women's T20 Challenge title, former India cricketer Nooshin Al Khadeer talks to The Bridge about her winning spree as a coach.
Former India cricketer Nooshin Al Khadeer has been on a never-ending winning spree off late. The off-spinner turned coach has swept all the major women's cricket tournaments in the country for the 2021-22 season.
It started with the Senior Women's One Day title with the Railways followed by the Senior Women's One Day Challenger with India A, the Senior Women's T20 Trophy with the Railways, and culminated with the recently concluded Women's T20 Challenge as the coach of Supernovas.
What is the secret behind this splendid run as a coach?
"I do not have any secrets," Nooshin chuckles. "I try and understand my players because I think that's quite important and once I know them, I get a better understanding of as and when I can use them in a match," she tells The Bridge.
Nooshin maintains that coaching at this level is more about the man-management than tinkering with their skillsets.
"I have been fortunate to have some very big players in my side, be it for the Railways or India A or the Supernovas. I am a firm believer that my job here is to just manage them and not tinker much with their techniques or skillsets. That second part comes only if there is something seriously wrong with the player," she states.
Her role at the Supernovas, she believes, was just about communicating to the players the role she expected them to play.
"Usually it is difficult to manage a team when you get together just two days before a tournament. But, that was not an issue for now. I am someone who is outspoken and go out talking to everyone easily. That kind of helps in these situations. All I had to do here is clearly communicate to the players what I and the team expected of them. Once their roles are defined, they will go about it in the best possible way," Nooshin says.
The other thing which the 41-year-old stresses on is controlling the controllable to your best and forgetting about the rest. This is exactly what the conversation was in the Supernovas dressing room when they had to play matches on consecutive days and even after their first innings in the final.
"The schedule is something which was not in our control. We did not speak about it at all in the dressing room. The only thing we could control was our performance and the way Harmanpreet and Taniya played that day showed a lot of character. Even in the final after we put up 165-odd on the board, the conversation was never if we have scored enough runs or if we will win the trophy. It was only about the plans we had in place and how to execute it in the middle," she explains.
When the camera panned to her, Nooshin seemed to be tensed when Laura Wolvaardt and Simran Bahadur were going all guns blazing in the final and took Pooja Vastrakar apart in the penultimate over of the match.
"I think we could have handled that situation a lot better in the middle. But, again it was not in my control. In T20s you need to be spot on with your executions. Though we had a plan in place for that particular situation, the execution went haywire. Thankfully we had held back an over from Sophie Ecclestone – this is something we had discussed the day before and her being the world number 1, it just clicked."
Out of the four titles she has won in 2021-22, the Senior Women's T20 was the most challenging one for her, believes Nooshin.
"The Senior Women's T20. Not exactly the coaching aspect, but the pressure that came with it. The World Cup had just gotten over and I had about nine India players in my side. It was difficult to keep the Railways' winning run going," she explains.
With four back-to-back trophies in the bag, is she eyeing an India job?
"That's not on the radar for me right now. As I said I can only control the controllable and this for me is uncontrollable. I am happy with where I am right now and it keeps me satisfied all the time," Nooshin chuckles.