Age no barrier for young coach
IF TAKING over as coach of a team that's just won a premiership wasn't a tough ask, then doing so as a 24-year-old surely is.
Yet new Taipans coach Umhar Samsudeen is unconcerned he is nearly a decade younger than some of his team, or that some might say the only way the Taipans can go is down after last summer's grand final triumph.
Samsudeen hails from Sri Lankan capital Colombo and came to Australia at the start of this year to study for a Masters degree in accounting.
He was good friends with former Taipans coach Lance Roudenko, who has played in Sri Lanka, and recommended the Taipans to him.
Samsudeen rates the standard of Ipswich cricket somewhere between first and second grade in Sri Lanka, based on the quality of his Taipans teammates.
"Craig Cumming is a great cricketer," he said.
"I was also really impressed with Glen Lauchlan, Chris Smith and Paul Milne. I'd seen Tyrone (de Silva) back home so I knew what he was capable of."
Current Sri Lanka national player Angelo Matthews was his club captain in Colombo, where he played first grade before a knee injury cut short his dreams of reaching the top.
It may not have been an unrealistic goal given he represented Sri Lanka at under-17 and under-19 level.
"When I injured my knee I decided to start getting a back-up by studying accounting," he said.
"I got into coaching to give something back to the game."
At just 24-years-old it might seem a tough ask trying to tell senior cricketers how they can improve.
But Samsudeen has found the Taipans players extremely receptive to his ideas and has been impressed with their positive approach to the game.
"They're really happy to listen to what I say," he said.
"They take my advice in good heart because they are all keen to learn.
"They all want to go for the win each game, which is a good sign."
The respect is mutual.
"He's a pretty good coach," Taipans captain Cumming said.
"He knows what he's talking about and is getting blokes to training."
Samsudeen is a bowling all rounder and has already passed on some handy hints.
"He teaches a lot of things you can do with your fingers when you're bowling," Cumming said.
It is the result of playing on flat pitches in Sri Lanka.
"In Sri Lanka, if you don't move the ball you're going to get smacked," Samsudeen said.
Samsudeen sees his role at the newly formed joint venture club as much broader than just the first grade team.
"My biggest test is to get them together," he said.
"There are still a few teams, in the lower levels, who are not the Eastern Taipans yet.
"I want to make the whole club one unit. I want to work on the juniors too, because they are the future of the club."