Jamie Siddons the best coach, says Tamim

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013
Tamim Iqbal
BIG HITTER: Bangladesh's Tamim Iqbal.

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Not every bloke enjoys walking away from a team with the coach's words ringing in the ears.

But, in Tamim Iqbal's case, it was almost the sole reason he came to Wellington.

There's been a hole in Tamim's heart, and in his game, ever since Jamie Siddons departed as Bangladesh coach in April 2011. So when the Siddons-coached Firebirds approached Tamim about being a Twenty20 import, he pretty much hopped on the first plane out of the country.

"I was very, very excited because I was seeing Jamie after a long time. He is easily the best coach we've ever had in Bangladesh," Tamim said, before flying home today after a six-game stint with the Firebirds.

"I was having some issues with my batting as well, so I was very keen to work with him, as well as playing with Wellington. You need to fix those technical things, but at least I know what to do when I get back home."

It was interesting to talk to someone who'd worked with Siddons before and, in Tamim's case, it was a stint of over three years. It would be hard to say Bangladesh and Wellington cricket were apples and apples, but both definitely had players with ability, but no real consistency, when Siddons took over.

Neither is the finished article now, although Siddons' influence has heralded obvious improvements. In theory, Wellington's batsmen should only get better, having had Siddons re-build their techniques from the ground up.

"Me, Shakib [Al Hasan] and Mushfiqur [Rahim] the captain, we rate Jamie very, very highly and a lot of the boys do as well. He is the only one who changed our culture and changed the thinking of the batsmen," said Tamim.

"He got aggressiveness into us and his hard work - his 3 years of hard work - is just paying off now. We won the [one-day] series against the West Indies recently and all the hard work he put in is just paying off now. It's unfortunate he's not with us any more, because I personally think he's an incredible coach."

The 23-year-old Tamim made his test debut in New Zealand, in 2008. He and the team were a bit of a laughing stock then, but Tamim maintains that overseas stints like this one with the Firebirds are the only way he and his team-mates are going to take that final leap toward being genuine world-class players.

"At home we are very difficult to beat now. New Zealand knows this and now I think the West Indies knows this," he said.

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"The West Indies is one of the best teams in Twenty20 and one-day cricket and they've got everything in their team. And still we beat them and had a very good test series against them as well."

Tamim's Wellington team-mates have praised his contribution to their team. Aside from runs, Tamim's best asset was probably "calmness", according to captain Grant Elliott.

Jesse Ryder tends to be equally relaxed and his and Tamim's opening partnerships have eased a few concerns among a side whose knees seemed to be permanently knocking not long ago.

"The indicator of a good environment is when you have debutants come in and do well. Ben Orton, Ili Tugaga and Tips [Tipene Friday] came into this environment [against Canterbury last Sunday] and probably felt comfortable," Elliott said.

"In the past, I think debutants came in and felt the anxiety in the team."

Tamim hopes to return next summer, but he could be in Firebirds colours a bit sooner if the team can win the domestic Twenty20 title and get themselves to the Champions League.

- The Dominion Post

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