In any modern-day sport, for a team to be successful, the support staff plays an integral part. The same holds true in IPL. Much stress is laid on choosing not just the players and coaches, but a lot of importance is given to the support staff. From fielding coach to bowling coach and video analyst to mental trainer, there are men of all sorts to help teams edge out their opponents, both mentally and physically.
The demand is for foreign names while their Indian counterparts are few and far between. In all, there are 38 foreigners and 23 Indians, the latter group comprising mostly former players.
Anil Kumble was perhaps the first mentor in IPL when he assisted South African Ray Jennings for Royal Challengers Bangalore before the former Indian captain switched over to Mumbai Indians this year.
Sunrisers have named former chairman of selection committee Krishnamachari Srikkanth as mentor and local star and former Indian mainstay VVS Laxman as the second mentor. He has been designated as ambassador.
Laxman says that he is enjoying his new role as mentor. “It’s not very different. Even when I was playing I always shared my experiences with younger players. They always were receptive to what I was sharing with them. So I think it’s not something new. Only the term mentor is new. It’s a great opportunity for me to be associated with a good franchise,’’ said Laxman.
The players, too, are receptive about seeking advice from the support staff. Sunrisers’ linchpin Dale Steyn is looking forward to working with Waqar Younis, Sunrisers’ bowling coach. “You know in the South African side we’ve got Allan Donald at the moment and he was one of the guys I used to watch when I was young growing up and it was great to have him, to pick his brain over the last two years he’s been with us (South Africa). And now I’m given another opportunity to work with someone like Waqar. I’m really looking forward to it,’’ he said.
Perhaps the most successful coaching combination is Chennai Super Kings’, with the likes of Steve Rixon (fielding coach) and Andrew Bichel (bowling coach) assisting head coach Stephen Fleming.
Though predominantly an overseas bastion, there are recognisable Indian faces who are making their presence felt. Like for example Kings XI Punjab’s assistant coach WV Raman, Delhi Daredevils’ bowling coach-cum-mentor TA Sekar and Kanwaljit Singh, who was the assistant coach of the defunct Deccan Chargers, feels that Indian coaches too are as capable as foreign coaches. “Our coaches have become innovative and have the ability to handle the team. They can do something different given an opportunity. We have legends who can handle the teams,’’ he said.