DUBAI: Desert Vipers head coach James Foster is pleased with the squad he has at his disposal for the ILT20 and is looking ahead to what promises to be an exciting first season.
Foster has been busy at work over the last six months, collaborating with Director of Cricket Tom Moody and CEO Phil Oliver to put together the best possible squad for the inaugural DP World ILT20.
Speaking to the Vipers Voices podcast, Foster described his journey and looked ahead to what promises to be an exciting first season for the Desert Vipers.
Foster said: "There has been such a big lead-up into this tournament. Back in July, I thought we were ages away, but now we are here, and I am absolutely delighted. "I am fortunate that the support staff we have here are so experienced. It is a very exciting time and a huge opportunity for growth for me, and the players, to be bouncing ideas
off new people and adding to their own games."
Along the way, there have been various changes made to the Desert Vipers squad, and one-star player - Ben Duckett - has been lost to the tournament due to national duty.
James Foster, though, is very pleased with the squad in place and said: "I think we have got a quality squad and the new additions have really strengthened the team. "It is a shame that Ben Duckett could not be here, but his progression has been great to see. You select players as a franchise, and obviously, you would love them to be here, but also, in the same breath, you have to be delighted that their game is continuing to grow, getting that England recognition, and playing all formats; hats off to Ben."
Amongst the new additions are former Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal, and Foster is pleased to have him in the squad: "(Dinesh) Chandimal has come in, (and) what performer he has been over the years; a great man, with great experience and great leadership that comes with his package.
"We have got a squad of 20 and a lot of options to choose from. Among the UAE players, I have been involved with Ronny before (Rohan Mustafa) and with Sheraz (Ahmad) in the T10 and I am fully aware of their capabilities."
Team selection is one of the key roles for Head Coach James Foster, and it will not be easy taking a call on who will open the innings, given the wealth of talent and experience available in that department, whether that is captain Colin Munro, ICC Men's T20 World Cup hero Alex Hales, or Adam Lyth, who performed outstandingly for Yorkshire and the Northern Superchargers in the 2022 UK season.
Foster explained the process he intended to use to make those difficult calls when he said: "Myself, Colin Munro and Tom Moody will get together and start shaping up what we
think is the right line-up for the first game. "It is a great headache to have, and we have quality performers there. There is an opportunity that we could fit those guys all in (Adam Lyth, Colin Munro and Alex Hales). But again, you need to look at the balance, and the make-up of the side, and take a call from there." Foster said.
Going into the first game against Sharjah on Sunday, the head coach said he preferred focusing on his own team's strengths. "You have to remind your team and the players what their strengths are," he said.
"You cannot be too fixated on the opposition. At the same time, you have to do your planning and due diligence and () make sure we are fully aware and fully prepared. It is also about going out there and delivering your skill sets to the best of your ability."
The Desert Vipers' schedule is tightly packed during the tournament, playing 10 games across 21 days in the group stages, and it is likely to challenge even the most experienced of players. When asked how the coaching team was approaching this schedule and preparing for it, James Foster answered: "It is down to us - the support staff - to get the balance of training and recovery right.
"I am a huge believer in players being mentally and physically fresh. We have experienced campaigners, and they will know if they need to train and have some days off. With the amount of cricket that we have, a lot of our fixtures are on-off, on-off, on.
"These guys have been around a long time, and they know what they are doing. In addition to that, we have a huge squad so if we need to plug and play and if we need to rotate, we have got those options too."