JAK named US cricket team coach

JAK named US cricket team coach

J Arun Kumar

While cricket has come to a grinding halt across the world, a wonderful opportunity arrived on Tuesday morning for J Arun Kumar. The former Karnataka batsman was named the coach of the USA cricket team for two and half years, a challenge the 45-year-old termed ‘interesting’. 

“Yes, I did attend interviews before the Covid-19 pandemic but was pleasantly surprised when their chief executive Iain Higgins rang me up this morning and said I’ve been formalised as the coach. I was indeed taken by surprise,” Arun Kumar, fondly referred to as JAK, told DH.

“However, the pandemic and lockdown restrictions mean I don’t know when I’ll be able to travel to the US to take up the assignment. The fast-track visa has been shut temporarily, so I’m waiting with bated breath for the pandemic to cease. Until then fingers crossed.”

Arun Kumar, who coached Karnataka to an unprecedented double treble (the State annexing the Ranji Trophy, Irani Cup and Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons), said the limited infrastructure would be the biggest challenge for him.

“Having grown up in Karnataka and played cricket across the country, you are used to brilliant infrastructure. During my visit to their base in Houston, I figured the limited infrastructure would be my biggest challenge. They don’t have too many natural turf grounds and even the artificial ones are very limited. But they are in the process of building six international stadiums and it’ll be an interesting challenge for me to guide them through this phase,” said Arun Kumar, who has also coached Hyderabad and Puducherry apart from being the batting coach for IPL team Kings XI Punjab.

The 45-year-old felt the US is a talented team but turning them into consistent performers would take some time. “The team is very diverse, you have Caribbean guys, Indians, Pakistanis and other communities. Getting them together on the same page would be challenge. But I’ve always loved challenges.

“Even the Karnataka team that enjoyed so much success was very cosmopolitan. I’ll need to be putting my people management skills to good use. Sunil (Joshi) was there and he had only good things to say. Coaching an international team is a first for me and I’m really geared up for it,” said Arun Kumar, who played 109 first-class and 100 List A games.

Arun Kumar said he’ll be based in Bay Area.