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Indian Premier League

‘Job is on the line from game one’ – Gary Kirsten on his time as RCB coach

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Gary Kirsten, the former Royal Challengers Bangalore mentor and coach, has opened up on his time with the Indian Premier League franchise and why they have failed to win the title despite boasting of some of the biggest names in T20 cricket.

Kirsten replaced Daniel Vettori as the RCB coach ahead of 2019 IPL, eight months after joining the side as the batting coach. However, after the Virat Kohli-led team missed out on the playoffs, he was sacked, with Simon Katich taking over from him for the 2020 edition of the tournament.

The former South Africa opener pointed out that the two most successful IPL franchises – Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have built a “family culture”, which RCB are in desperate need of but changing personnel after every unsuccessful season doesn’t help their cause.

“Time, biggest difference (between coaching an international team and an IPL franchise),” Kirsten said on The RK Show. “It’s very difficult to build an identity with a team, with a diverse group of players, and to build something that can transcend time. If you take the most successful franchises, what they have done well, the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings, they have been able to build time into their program.

“So, from one IPL season to the next, the same philosophies, the same cultures apply. So to shift a culture like RCB, which I think does require a culture shift, it takes time. The bottom line is that your job is on the line from game one. So, when there’s pressure on performance, you start to crisis-manage and then you are gone.

“I think there’s a lot of different reasons (why RCB haven’t won the IPL title). Last year, we missed the playoffs by one point. I had my most enjoyable coaching year, with RCB last year, and I got fired. We lost our first six games in a row and then we won five out of our next seven and there was a rained-out game, so effectively we won five out of our next six.

“I kind of felt that we were starting to move in a direction where how we wanted to build an identity in the team started to realise itself. The problem with IPL is that everything is over so quickly and then everyone does a kind of debrief of the season and if the season hasn’t gone well, there has to be a change. And then you move on to new set of practitioners, which I think is the worst thing to do.

“You have got to trust your people, trust the work they are doing and also understand that one year is not really enough time to shift things that are going to allow you to have sustainable impact down the line. But if you look at the great franchises in IPL, they have very successfully built a family culture into there environments, where everyone feels that they can make a contribution, it’s not just about one or two people.

“And with RCB, what we were certainly trying to do last year was trying to introduce that the best we could. The focus of attention was lesser on Virat [Kohli] and lesser on AB [de Villiers], and we wanted to bring in some other superstars into the team. We wanted other guys to be recognised for their performances. But that takes time to build.”

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