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Masters star in charge of Dambulla Viiking for ongoing T20 tournament.
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Owais Shah has labelled his decision to take charge of Dambulla Viiking during this year’s Lanka Premier League as a “no-brainer” after his side took a win and a loss from their opening two fixtures of the tournament.
The former England international and current PCA England Masters star has found his calling in coaching, after a 20-year professional career which saw him score over 32,000 runs in all formats and appear on the international stage on 94 occasions.
Last year, Shah oversaw a Rajshahi Royals side containing the likes of Andre Russell, Shoaib Malik and Ravi Bopara in the 2019-20 edition of the Bangladesh Premier League, in what was his first major coaching role.
It was a highly successful experience for the rookie coach, as his side progressed all the way to the final, defeating Khulna Tigers by 21 runs to win the title in Dhaka on 17 January.
Having an early tournament win on his CV, as Shah explains, has gone a long way to opening up further coaching opportunities, including his current role with Dambulla in Sri Lanka: “Once I was in the public eye after the BPL tournament, the guys over here got in touch with me. They saw my success out in Bangladesh and gave me the opportunity to work here. It was a no-brainer.
“I love working with professional guys and I have wanted to do more and more of it. This gave me the opportunity to work with really talented players like Dasun Chanaka, Niroshan Dickwella and Samit Patel, and learn how to play the game without actually playing it.
“Once upon a time I was playing in these leagues but now I’m in the position of trying to manage and work with these guys. It was a great opportunity which I just wanted to jump at.”
As with all aspects of life in 2020, the ongoing LPL tournament, which got underway on Thursday 26 November, has felt the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. After being rescheduled numerous times, the competition was finally given the go-ahead under one month ago on 5 November, with all fixtures being played at the MRIC Stadium in Hambantota.
“It’s been very different. We have it very easy in the UK – they are in a different league over here. When we stepped off the plane we were sanitised by people in overalls straight away. Quarantine was interesting – I had to curb my eating so I didn’t put on too much weight during the five days that I was cooped up in my hotel room.
“I had to introduce myself to the team via Zoom and to not have access to them initially was very strange. It is what it is though, these are the times we’re living in and we’ve just got to get on with it.”
Ruminating on the type of coach that he wants to become, Shah is keen to take learnings from his lengthy playing career with him into the coaching arena. Still only 42 years old, he has lofty ambitions for what could become an equally decorated coaching career.
“I’m very much on a journey. I’ll always try and part my knowledge on the players, but what worked for me will not necessarily work for the guys. Not everyone works the same way so I still have to do my homework and gain that experience of doing more coaching and learning about people’s personalities. That way you become a better equipped coach to help individuals to go out there and perform at the optimum level.
“During this tournament, I’m keen to analyse how I perform under pressure when I’m not playing – what sort of energy I’m giving the guys before, during and after the game. I want to be true to myself, but also learn what I can do better.
“With a bit of luck and more experience I can get there and hopefully it’s a journey that can take me to higher honours. Working with England is high on the list of things I want to achieve in the coaching world. I want to work with the best and get to the top, that’s how I’ve always been.”
Owais is planning to return for the PCA England Masters in 2021. Find out more here.