IPL 2014 May 3, 2014

Too many thinking caps for Mumbai?

A team management packed with former international greats may not be the ideal solution for the floundering Mumbai Indians

Sachin Tendulkar stood behind the dressing room door in Dubai, shadow-practising strokes he once played in the middle. Out in the centre, Kieron Pollard was trying hard - eventually in vain - to stabilise the Mumbai Indians' middle order against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their final match of the IPL's UAE leg. How sorely Mumbai have missed Tendulkar's calming presence in the XI this year.

But, if we dare ask, is Tendulkar causing a distraction with his presence in the dressing room? The batsman had announced his retirement from the IPL last year, but the franchise appointed him as an icon. In addition to being the franchise's brand ambassador, Tendulkar is also around during the team's training sessions.

Tendulkar, however, is not the only great player on the Mumbai coaching roaster. Anil Kumble is the chief mentor, John Wright is the head coach, Jonty Rhodes is the fielding coach and, recently, Ricky Ponting joined as consultant. The stars are followed by a second line of assistant coaches, which includes former India allrounder Robin Singh.

Little wonder then that a member of another franchise's coaching staff mockingly said that Mumbai's coaching line-up looked better than their playing XI after five straight defeats this season. Is there a possibility this collection of greats in the dressing room, all mighty thinking heads, may also be intimidating and distracting for some of the younger players?

There are three sets of players in the Mumbai squad. The first is a senior one, comprising Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Michael Hussey and Lasith Malinga. The second is made up of slightly more experienced hands, like Rohit Sharma, Pollard and Ambati Rayudu, and then the rookies.

Having played with or against most of the coaching staff, the senior players can easily achieve a level of comfort. But what about a younger player, or even an experienced domestic player like CM Gautam, who may be hesitant about opening up to the senior coaches?

Tendulkar, Kumble and Ponting could detect a fault in a player's technique with half an eyelid open, but they are not around the players for the rest of the year. Even if they try and iron out a technical crease, it may add pressure on the player to make that change quickly.

In a dynamic format like T20, the most crucial man is the captain. Coaches and consultants can help with all kinds of preparations off the field, but on the ground, it is Rohit's responsibility to make quick, calculated decisions. However, with so many heads outside and so many seniors in the squad, does Rohit really have the space to grow and express his leadership?

Mumbai often seem to be the Real Madrid of T20 club cricket: the franchise has always shown a tendency to associate with big names. The franchise might defend itself, saying it won the IPL and the Champions League T20 titles with these men around. But the big difference between then and now is that Tendulkar and Ponting were in those teams as players, as were Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson, who are no longer with the franchise.

Good teams invest in and persist with talent. Mumbai missed the mark by releasing Maxwell and Johnson. That miscalculation may already have cost the defending champions a play-off berth.

'Keep it simple' is the mantra of a successful team and there is no better example of that than Chennai Super Kings over the last six years. Kings XI Punjab are doing the same this season. For Mumbai, a balanced squad rather than a galaxy of former stars on the coaching staff would serve them better in the future.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on May 5, 2014, 13:16 GMT

    it was jus an arabian nightmare fo mipaltan

  • Android on May 5, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    it was jus an arabian nightmare fo mipaltan

  • Selfiskar on May 3, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    Sachin Tendulkar has zero leadership or motivational skills, under his captaincy Mumbai India was not able win IPL or CT. His captaincy was the worst for India in the past 25 years.

  • Steve on May 3, 2014, 10:48 GMT

    Couldn't agree more with the author. Losing SRT and Ponting as players shouldn't have affected MI as much as Maxwell, Johnson, DR Smith and to some extent D Karthik (granted he wasn't as successful in the 2nd half but helped MI start strong nevertheless). MI should banish Tendulkar, Ponting (could never adapt and translate his success in Tests and ODIs into T20s anyway) and Kumble from the dugout during matches. Let on the real coaches and on-field captain make all the playing decisions. I am inclined to think MI will realize as much after a botched up season this year.

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    wow...this is totally insane -_-...earlier you people used to say our youngsters are not getting chance to play in ipl or national side...now you have problem when the legends have retired and are helping youngsters to groom so that they can become like them in the future.....keep in mind ...players should take responsibility in the field...

  • Sreedhar on May 3, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    inspire of a big coaching team behind the MumbaiT20 Team,they could not do much so far.the main reasons are they do not have a good leader in the ground like Sachin. Sachin even after leaving captaincy had a power over the team. besides,the present cricks is exclusively due to lack of form from Rohit Sharma &Lasith Malinga. the dip in form of Rohit is obviously showing. it is a must that the openers should make at least 40 to 50 runs. similarly FLasith Malinga who used to strike in the dying overs at least is not doing that too. only consolation for Mumbai is the regaining form by big hitter Pollard.now to day they are facing the best team so far with the presence of MAXMILLS. To counterattack a CHOWNARINE pair is not available with Mumbai. so Mumbai could hope for a change only with regard to the Home crowd. At wankhedes tremendous support from crowd is usual. if they have not incurred displeasure from the performance until now,,Mumbai could hope for support from the surroundings.

  • Senthil on May 3, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    Being out of form is nothing new, and every team had to face that at some point or the other in every edition of the IPL. How they handled it is a different matter, but the teams that have generally played well have played sort of happily, just doing what the players know how to do it best. Preity Zinta might be as miserable as anybody at losing, coming close, etc., but she comes across as someone with a good heart who will be one with the boys and never try to tell them things they should know better. Through highs and lows, her team hasn't really changed in character and the results are here, now!

    I don't understand why any team needs the glum face of Kumble, who cannot appear happy ever! Nobody can relax around people like that, especially if he is in a managerial position of some kind within a team. Mumbai is too heavy for its own good, and not in a nice way. Is Tendulkar some kind of new age genius? Are these the guys to take this team forward? I think not.

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    forget what done by MI in Auction & Now Replacement , now play with 6 Bat & 5 Bowl Hussy, Dunk, Tare, Rohit, Pollard , Raydu,Bhajji, Zaheer, (Bumrah/ Suyal/ S.Gopal- Any two )

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    mi Xi - Hussy , Dunk, Tare, Rohit , Pollard, Raydu, Bhaji,zaheer, Malinga ( s.gopal,Bumrah,Suyal - Any two )

  • Android on May 3, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    The bad thing is they took lendl summons instead of saxena.They could take S Badrinath who can build innings rather than stumble like the other mumbai middle order batsmen.They should add players bringing balance to the squad and not seniors to their supporting.Hope mumbai keeps it in mind the next year. Feeling sad as a mumbai supporter

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