Bob Woolmer, who coached Warwickshire to an unprecedented triple-trophy win in 1994, said his less successful spell after he returned to Edgbaston in 2000 helped prepare him for the internal politics of Pakistan cricket.
Today, Woolmer's Pakistan team starts the first of three Tests against India here, having steered the team to four one-day victories over their arch-rival since accepting a three-year post in July.
However, defeat in the Test series or six-match one day series could invite his critics to bemoan once again why Pakistan has hired an Englishman as coach even though the former England and Kent batsman believes the fruits of his work, in helping to change the systems in domestic and school cricket, will be reaped only after five years.
He replaced Javed Miandad and entered a dressingroom in disharmony, bickering among the cricket board and faced a media still simmering from a double Test and one-day loss at home to India last April. His entry mirrored his rocky return to Edgbaston, he said, which he doesn't regret for reasons of career development.
"I wouldn't do it again [coach Warwickshire] but it was a great learning experience," Woolmer said.
"I'm glad I did it. The dynamics were very different from 1994 when I left coaching a county that I thought was the best thing since sliced bread and then I went back and saw how things had changed.
"The set-up was a lot different. The club was full of suspicion, Chinese whispers, there was no effort from the team and there were Chinese whispers in the boardroom with everyone after everyone's job.
"In a way it has taught me about the Pakistan job - not how to handle it but I have come to understand that you just have to accept things."
Woolmer, who says winning the County Championship, Benson & Hedges Cup and Sunday League in 1994 helped make him as an international coach, has a convivial relationship with the Pakistan players.
He even jokes with them that if they don't want to listen to his gospel he will go back to Cape Town, play golf, and they can again have Miandad, who was apparently disliked by the players.
The Pakistani players are buying in to Woolmer's methods and are happy to be shown their technical flaws from the evidence of the camcorder he sets up in the nets. This wasn't always the case at Warwickshire.
"Some players love the camera and others don't," Woolmer said. "At Warwickshire Mark Wagh was going through a bad patch and I once offered to show him his dismissal but he said he looks at his dismissals only at the end of the season. Here I was trying to help him and he didn't want to know.
"There will always be players who are anti what you are doing but this Pakistan team is keen to learn."
Captain Inzamam-ul Haq said Woolmer's manmanagement had impressed his team. As an example, Inzamam said, Woolmer would knock on a player's door at the team hotel to discuss technique or handling pressure. Miandad was more renowned for lecturing in the nets.
Woolmer is allowed 30 days vacation every year - or time with his family in Cape Town - so when Pakistan are not playing or training he resides in a suite at Pakistan's National Cricket Academy in Lahore. He has had to adapt to the kind of adulation he's never faced on Harborne High Street or at Newlands.
He said: "I try my hardest to remain who I am and not get smothered in fame and adulation. I still walk down the street in Lahore to buy my toothpaste and not worry about the 2,000 people that follow me or stare at me in the shop. It goes with the territory."
Pakistan, without leading pace bowler and Worcestershire recruit Shoaib Akhtar because of a hamstring injury, are clear underdogs in the Tests. India, with a fit-again Sachin Tendulkar and a strong batting line-up, will be hard to beat at home.
Woolmer, though, said how players responded to playing in front tens of thousands and hundreds of millions on television would mean more than averages.
"The team that can stay dispassionate and not get carried away with all the hype will probably do well in the series."