Former Scottish club cricketer Colin Siller was recently appointed as coach of Fiji. Shortly after Fiji's series win over Pacific rivals Vanuatu, CricketEurope caught up with him for a few questions.
CE: Can you give us a little information on your cricketing background, and your coaching experience until now?
Colin: I started coaching coaching in 1990 in State Schools in Scotland and then in 1992 I travelled to New Zealand to coach in the Hutt Valley in Wellington and coached there for 4 cricket seasons coaching at Club and Representative level. In 1995 I was signed as a professional player/coach for a club in Belfast called Holywood and spent 2 years there and in 1997 signed for Instonians one of the top clubs in Ireland. In 1999 started coaching at Youth International level in Ireland where Ireland Youth teams have been very successful winning many European Championships at all age groups. In 2003 I became an English Cricket Board Level 3 coach and in 2004 I was nominated by Bob Woolmer who was then the ICC High Performance Manager to become the assistant coach for Canada for the 2005 ICC Trophy in Ireland, where Canada qualified for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
In 2005 after the Ashes series the English Cricket Board wrote to me and invited me to apply for the position of bowling coach for England after Troy Cooley left after the Ashes. In 2006 I was head-hunted by Zimbabwe Cricket to become assistant coach for the national team and the Coach Education Manager, this did not happen due to politics in the region. And in 2008 I was appointed national coach for Fiji.
CE: How much did you know about Fijian cricket before taking up the post?
Colin: I knew Fiji were one of the founding members of the ICC and that the national team had been one of the top associate countries for the last 20 plus years but in recent times the national team had not done so well, due mainly to the fact that other nations had become more professional in their approach to playing and coaching and Fiji had stayed the same and therefore being left behind. There is a huge amount of natural talent but technically and mentally the players need a lot of work.
CE: Fiji recently beat Vanuatu in a three-match one-day series. How helpful has this been as part of Fiji's preparations for Division Four of the World Cricket League later this year?
Colin: With the matches against Vanuatu it established for me that Fiji have a number of players who are top quality but also there is a lot of places up for grabs for the squad in Tanzania. With the squad for the Vanuatu series being picked before I arrived into the country due to the ICC tournament rules with teams named well in advance, since I arrived I have already identified players who should be in the squad but were not picked for the Vanuatu series, which will make the squad even stronger come Tanzania.
CE: Are there any other matches lined-up before the WCL tournament?
Colin: We are hoping to have six trial matches played on a Saturday and Sunday for three weeks before we name the squad for Tanzania.
CE: Which Fijian players should we be looking out for to star in that tournament?
Colin: The Fijian star player is Neil Maxwell who played for Australia A in the 1990s, with both bat and ball.
CE: What are the obstacles to the development of cricket in Fiji?
Colin: The main obstacles are lack of facilities, no turf wicket, and no top indoor practice facilities.
CE: What are the facilities like in the country?
Colin: No turf wickets, but there is one bowling machine and one ground with a top class artificial wicket.
CE: Of the three other teams already qualified for Division Four, which do you see as the main threat to Fijian success?
Colin: The main threat to Fiji in the WCL Division 4 I believe will be Hong Kong and Tanzania. The other real challenge will come from the promoted teams from Division 5.
Many thanks to Colin for taking the time to answer our questions. Good news that Neil Maxwell is still available for Fiji despite all his business commitments as an agent and as chief executive of the Kings XI Punjab IPL team.
CricketEurope wishes Fiji all the best for Division Four of the World Cricket League in Tanzania later in the year. You can find out which two teams will be joining Fiji, Hong Kong, Italy and the hosts in Dar Es Salaam by following our coverage of Division Five here.