Kirsten replaces Vettori as RCB coach

CHANGE IN GUARD Gary Kirsten (centre), named the new coach of RCB, and skipper Virat Kohli (right) will be keen on forging a winning combination. DH FILE PHOTO

The Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday named Gary Kirsten as the team's coach and mentor for the upcoming Indian Premier League season.

Kirsten will replace Daniel Vettori, who was at the helm since 2014. In another change in management, Sanjeev Churiwala took the place of Amrit Thomas as the chairman of the franchise. 

Under Vettori, the Royal Challengers produced below-par performances in the previous two seasons. In 2017, Virat Kohli's men finished at the bottom of the eight-team table with just three wins. There was no change in fortunes for the Bengaluru unit this year as well. RCB failed to seize the advantage in many games and made early exit, finishing sixth with six wins. 

Kirsten, the world-cup winning coach of the Indian team in 2011, donned the role of RCB's batting consultant last edition. "With Gary we get a smooth continuity and that was one of the main reasons behind our decision to pick him as the coach and mentor. He is not new to this job and his experience matters a lot," said Churiwala. 

The former South Africa opener, who coached Hobart Hurricanes to runners-up finish at the Big Bash League last season, said he was aware of the challenges and expectations from this job.

"It's (RCB) a very celebrated franchise and I understand the demands as a coach," noted Kirsten. "Our performance last edition wasn't something to feel happy about. We should have made the play-offs. Two defeats costs us, one against Chennai Super Kings here and the other against Sunrisers Hyderabad where we were chasing a modest target but lost track. IPL is always a close contest and it depends on how we close out matches," he observed. 

The 50-year-old said his first goal is to develop a strong coaching team. "We need a good structure in the coaching department and we will be working towards it in the next couple of months. As far as the team is concerned, we are happy with the player-selection that took place in the auction. Of course the squad needs minor tweaking, it's all about filling the gaps," he explained. 

Kirsten pointed out that his role is not that of a head coach and decisions will be taken by a team of leaders. "I am not the head coach of RCB. This time, we are looking at forming a leadership group which will obviously involve the captain. We will take the call collectively and it's exciting for me. My job is to add value to this group with my inputs," he offered. 

The Karnataka Premier League is underway in Mysuru and Kirsten said he is keen on spotting local talents. It left many surprised that RCB didn't show interest in many marquee Karnataka players in the auction and the inexperienced Pawan Deshpande and Aniruddha Joshi were the only two players from the State in the squad. 

"I had a conversation about this with the team owners a couple of days back and it's indeed the vision of the franchise to recognise gifted local players. The owners have asked me to pay attention regarding this," he said. 

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Kirsten replaces Vettori as RCB coach

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