IPL 2020, Royal Challengers Bangalore have announced a major overhaul to their support staff, sacking Gary Kirsten and Ashish Nehra as the batting and bowling coach respectively, and bringing in Mike Hesson as director of cricket and Simon Katich as head coach for the upcoming season of Indian Premier League.
Nehra, the former India pacer, and Kirsten, the former South Africa batsman with vast coaching experience including with India during their 2011 World Cup win, had been appointed in 2018 after former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori was removed as head coach following the 2018 season. Both Nehra and Kirsten were part of the leadership group along with Royal Challengers’ captain Virat Kohli after that, but the team that had made the final in 2016 were the wooden spooners in IPL 2019, leading to a rethink by the management.
According to Sanjeev Churiwala, the Royal Challengers chairman, the move to switch to a single-coach model became necessary because the franchise wanted to achieve “high performance”.
“RCB’s purpose is to be the most trusted, respected and best-performing T20 franchise and hence our constant endeavour is to create a culture of excellence and high performance for every member of the team,” he said in a media statement.
Churiwala said both Hesson, the former New Zealand and Kings XI Punjab coach, and Katich, the former Australia batsman who was Kolkata Knight Riders’ assistant coach till last season, had the necessary experience to create a “winning culture” at Royal Challengers, who have never won the IPL despite reaching the final thrice. “We believe that Mike’s extensive experience in building strong teams along with Simon’s powerful cricket experience will help us create a winning culture. As a result of this restructuring exercise, we will be moving to a single-coach model.
In a statement, Royal Challengers said that Hesson would be the pointsperson for all cricket matters going forward, including being responsible for “defining policy, strategy, programs, scouting, performance management and bringing in best practices throughout all aspects of the RCB’s cricketing pathway”. He will also be part of the management team and will liaise with Kohli and Katich on all cricketing issues.
Interestingly, both Hesson and Katich were released by their respective franchises after the 2019 season of the IPL. Hesson was let go by Kings XI after they finished sixth, while Katich, who joined Knight Riders as assistant to Jacques Kallis in 2015, was part of a run where the team competed well but failed to make the final even once.
Katich did, however, enhance his coaching credentials by winning successive CPL titles in 2017 and 2018 as head coach of Trinbago Knight Riders, which is owned by the Knight Riders group.