KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — Mike Gatting only offered short training stint but it was enough for the England batting legend to give rave reviews of the national Under-19 squad.
Gatting, 60, said based on what he saw during last Thursday’s training session at the Kinrara Oval, a secure future lies ahead for cricket in the country.
“Looking at the talent out there, I’ve seen enough to tell me Malaysia has the ability to be a very good side in future,” said the Middlesex coach.
“These Under-19s will give Malaysia a strong chance of becoming a better team in years to come.”
Gatting acknowledged cricket nonetheless is not a mainstream sport here.
He said it was down to governing body International Cricket Council (ICC) to reach out and help support the growth sustained by Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA).
“Smaller countries in South-east Asia need support from the ICC to help expand the game,” he said.
“If ICC looks here, it will see the association has done extremely well putting hard work into both the national team and on development.”
The MCA adopts various methods to nurture the development of cricket, chiefly a mandatory issue for nationwide club cricket at Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19 levels.
An active league in every state allows participation at interstate competition, a primary feeder to the top level of the sport.
Gatting, one of cricket’s most prolific batsmen who captained England for 23 Tests in the late 1980s, spent three days in Malaysia before travelling to Singapore, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi.
Part of his trip included visits to local schools where “the girls listen a bit better than the boys — they learn quicker.”
It was the young men he oversaw for an hour-long session at the nets at Kinrara.
Regularly he pulled both batters and bowlers to one side and offered words of wisdom.
“I told them the basics,” said Gatting — not quite the insight expected from one of the game’s highly-celebrated figures.
He said even the best can practice in a net and forget how they might translate that in a match situation.
“You think you can’t get out because there’s no fielders so you won’t ever know if the ball was caught.
“I advise to practice half the session properly (playing shots) and the other half as though you have the chance to be out in the middle. Play with a purpose,” he said.
The lads, who hung on Gatting’s every word, will be tested next month as Malaysia hosts the Asia Cricket Council Under-19 Cup.
It will be an opportunity to face powerhouses Pakistan and India among other full ICC, test-playing members.
“It’s the ICC’s decision to support emerging countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand,” said Gatting.
“I know it is looking at China. If it can get China into the game it will be huge.
“It could ignite countries in Southeast Asia and help turn this part of the world into a cricket force.”
The ACC Under-19 Asia Cup will take place on Nov 9-20.
Gatting was dismissed by what has now been dubbed “ball of the century” when Australia’s Shane Warne bowled a leg-spinner that turned roughly nine inches during the first 1993 Ashes test at Old Trafford, England.