The Royal Challengers Bangalore owners recently carried out a complete overhaul of the coaching staff, bringing in former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson as team director and appointing former Australia batsman Simon Katich as the head coach.
On Friday, in Bengaluru, Hesson and Katich spoke to the media, discussing a range of issues including why they feel Royal Challengers, led by India captain Virat Kohli, can be realistic about winning their maiden IPL title in 2020.
Royal Challengers Bangalore haven't made the playoffs for three seasons now. How can you turn it around?
Mike Hesson: We have spent a lot of time in the last two weeks looking at how we want to structure things as a support staff. With the structure we have got and people we've got around us, we're well aware that we have to make a few tweaks in the squad to get the balance that we think we need moving forward. We are not going to talk about player names. Obviously, we are not going to give too much away, but there has certainly been a lot of behind-the-scenes thinking about how we want to structure things.
Has there been any thought at all of looking at a different captain?
Simon Katich: Not at all.
How will the team management set-up work in the new structure?
Hesson: I will be having input pre-game, but Simon and Virat will be in charge on game days in terms of the XI they put on the park. The dealings I had with both are inclusive as well. I am sure coaches have experience at certain venues against opposition, but it's a collective agreement. But Simon and Virat will be in charge on game days.
"You need to have guys who are prepared to put the team first over their individual needs of trying keep getting a game, or just potentially do well for the next auction." RCB's head coach on what he expects
Kohli has led for the past seven seasons. The outside perception is that he calls the shots. Is that a strength or do you have any apprehensions about working with him?
Katich: From our point of view, we have been aligned about how we are going to go about things. We haven't got that perception about Virat at all. Potentially there is a learning from that and the fact that what he has done in the past, maybe he has learnt from that and wants to go about things differently moving forward. But from what we've discussed with him so far, he has very much been aligned about how we want to move forward, and happy to take advice from our experience and how we see things.
There are always going to be different opinions, but it is about what is best for the team and I think we have both (him and Hesson) spoken about it over the last couple of weeks. There's no question, for us Virat is captain.
How easy or difficult is it to talk to with superstar players like Kohli or Brendon McCullum (at New Zealand when he was head coach) to have an open discussion on decision-making?
Hesson: Simon, Virat and myself, everybody has been working together to this point and so far those relationships have been very good. There is a time and place for everything, but the three of us have to be brutally honest with each other behind closed doors around every decision.
There will be decisions we all make where we might say: "hang on, what were we thinking there?" And it might not necessarily be saying you have done something wrong. It's just asking for clarity on what you were thinking. I think this is a responsibility for all of us, to challenge the three of us as a leadership group to make sure we are getting the best out of each other. We are not going to be passive and not be afraid of having honest discussions. There is no value in that for anybody.
Royal Challengers have never been short of talent. As a coach, how do you get that talent to work together?
Katich: A big part of it is identifying what sort of style of players will bat well with each other or potentially bowl well in partnerships together in different phases of the innings. So that's something we are working through at the moment. But then, when it comes to a team's style of play, you need to have guys with that character that they are prepared to put the team first over their individual needs of trying keep getting a game, or just potentially do well for the next auction.
So that's the balancing act of trying to put a squad together and that's where the character side of it comes into it because yes, there are a lot of players out there with lots of talent but are they playing in winning teams and how are they contributing in being part of winning teams? So that's all the things we have to weigh up when we are making these judgments over the next few months.
How do you make sure the Chinnaswamy pitch will favour RCB so that they utilise home advantage, a crucial determining factor in making the playoffs?
Katich: It was probably the first thing I mentioned when I first came on about the job, asking the question about the wicket because I have seen it evolve over the last four years. Obviously in 2017, it was a different type of wicket given what happened with the drainage. And obviously, it affected the balance of the team because it was playing differently to what the team had been used to in the past.
So that was one of the first questions asked because you want to really utilise your home ground advantage for seven games, and if you make it a fortress which others teams have done at their venues, whether it's at Chennai (Chennai Super Kings) or whoever it is, that becomes a big determining factor whether you can make it to the playoffs. So that's one thing we certainly will be taking into account and making sure that it suits the balance of our team. We have to understand how it is going to play.