IPL 2013 March 27, 2013

Donald prepared for 'massive challenge'

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While Gary Kirsten and Russell Domingo will spend the next two months playing with their kids, the other member of South Africa's coaching staff, Allan Donald, has adopted what looks like a set of problem children. Donald will spend time as head coach of the Pune Warriors squad, who he meets on Thursday, and has been tasked with changing their fortunes.

Pune finished IPL5 at the bottom of the table and won only four of their 16 matches. The best they've performed in a season is in second-last spot after their maiden run in 2011. Since then, instead of positive results, they have racked up controversies.

Their first campaign was nearly aborted because of sponsorship disputes. When it was decided they would play, Sourav Ganguly was picked as their captain and his relationship with the franchise appeared to deteriorate steadily. He was appointed their mentor for the second season.

In their playing group was Jesse Ryder, who was going through a personal crisis and travelled with a personal psychologist, and Wayne Parnell and Rahul Sharma, who were involved in a drug raid at a party. In an effort to change things, they bought Michael Clarke to captain them this season but before it could begin, he was ruled out of the tournament with a back problem.

Donald admits things have not been easy and knows his main job is to turn that around. "We've had two tired years so this season is about finding some confidence," he told ESPNcricinfo. "In a tournament like the IPL, it's a difficult thing to understand. How do you gain confidence and momentum?

"Last year, we started pretty well and then things backfired massively. It was quite a nightmare. But we've looked at a bit of restructuring and I think this is still a great stage to take on a team." Ganguly is no longer involved and Donald is taking South Africa's conditioning coach Rob Walter, who was with Delhi Daredevils, with him to try and bring in some of the culture that has made the national team so successful.

"We've got a good blend of younger players to mix with the leadership group but now we've got to get it together," Donald said. "There's been a bit of reworking and we seem to have good systems in place so I am looking forward to a better season."

For Donald, the way the team performs is a direct reflection on his ability as a coach, something he wants to develop over the next two months with a view to future endeavours. "Every time challenges get thrown at you, you should take them and this is a massive challenge. It doesn't get any bigger than the IPL. Ultimately I want to become a head coach and I think this will be step in that direction."

Donald has served as bowling coach to England, New Zealand and South Africa but he has never been the head coach. Bangladesh were interested in him for the main job shortly after he joined Kirsten's ranks and he turned them down. With Kirsten having made it clear he does not intend to stay involved indefinitely, Donald may be eyeing taking over if the opportunity comes up in the future.

He will be one of two South African head coaches at this year's tournament. The other is Ray Jennings who has been in charge of Royal Challengers Bangalore since the second season. Shaun Pollock, Jonty Rhodes, and Doug Watson worked at the Mumbai Indians in the past and Kepler Wessels was with Chennai Super Kings in the first season. On face value, Donald has a tougher task than any of his compatriots, especially because he has not had a break.

Donald will depart just four days between the end of the South African series against Pakistan and the start of his new job. He could be in India until May 26, should Pune reach the final. Five days after that, South Africa will play Holland in a warm-up match for the Champions Trophy. Even if his stay with the IPL ends with the franchise's last match on May 18, Donald will only have little more than a week before he has to resume his national duties.

His travels will be made easier because his family is accompanying him for a longer period for the first time. His wife and two children will be at the IPL and it will be his daughter's first visit to India which he said she is very excited about. But before he can make time to show her the sights, he wants to concentrate on mentoring Pune's young bowlers.

Donald identified recent Test debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar as one he would like to mould. "He is not express pace but he is very skilfull. There is a lot to work with there," Donald said. Others who will hope to benefit from Donald's experience are Ashok Dinda, Mitchell Marsh, Kane Richardson and someone who has worked with him before, Parnell. "I always enjoy working with talented bowlers and I hope to make able to make some sort of impact."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rahul_78 on March 27, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    Punes main problem has been leadership group. In their first season Yuvraj was the captain and he couldnt inspire the team neither could he lead from the front. Then they made another poor choice in handing over the reins to Ganguly who had a disastrous track record in IPL with KKR. This season they tried to correct the problem by appointing Clarke as captain but again have been stuck by bad luck. Pune has a talented young squad but need to find a leader who could lead the squad in to right direction. Donanld has the first challenge on his hand to find who that person is going to be. May be after his fight with cancer the born again Yuvraj is the answer.

  • Unmesh_cric on March 27, 2013, 16:21 GMT

    Pune started off pretty well last season, winning 3 out of their first 4 games. This was mainly due to their superb bowling efforts in the initial games. But after that Dinda got injured and Marlon Samuel's action was questioned after the win against Chennai. This somewhat unsettled their bowling combination and it all went downhill from there. Steven Smith was the star performer for them all throughout. I hope they do better this season. They do need to put up better batting performances though. Indian players like Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey need to step up.

  • on March 29, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Taylor was a must in the starting XI and he was the ideal captain. Now he might have to sit out because Samuels and Smith performed exceptionally well last season. And with Nehra going to DD, Pune are really short of completing their bowling line up. Either Mendis or Parnell will have to play.

  • on March 28, 2013, 22:06 GMT

    pune has many problems, its unimaginative and has few match winners. Adding to this the poisonous mix of sammy and uv this promises to be another dismal year.

  • on March 28, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    Ideal team would be : 1. R.Uthappa 2.M.Pandey 3. M.Samuels 4. S.Smith 5.Y.Singh 6. A.Mathews 7.A.Nayar 8. P.Rasool 9. B.Kumar 10. A.Dinda 11. A.Mendis

  • on March 28, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    Angelo Mathews named as captain of Pune warriors for #ipl 6 .. why not #Robin Uthappa

  • on March 28, 2013, 14:11 GMT

    Ross Taylor is the only man to lead for them....

  • on March 28, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    They should given I Pandey a fast bolwer of madhya pradesh a go.because he is in gud form ...My Xi will be :- Luke Wright ,Robin Utthappa , Marlon Samules , Yuvraj Singh , Ross Taylor ( c), m pandey ,A Nayar , P Rassol / R sharma , B Kumar , I pandey / A Dinda , K Richardson

  • Jigzz80 on March 28, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    I feel Yuvi shouldnt captain the side... Mathews or Taylor is a good option.

  • Chetan007 on March 28, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Pune main problem is to find a good captain and a stable team. Their bowling at the start of the last season was great but got unsettled with time. They need to rotate their bowlers and play with a good batting group.

  • Rahul_78 on March 27, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    Punes main problem has been leadership group. In their first season Yuvraj was the captain and he couldnt inspire the team neither could he lead from the front. Then they made another poor choice in handing over the reins to Ganguly who had a disastrous track record in IPL with KKR. This season they tried to correct the problem by appointing Clarke as captain but again have been stuck by bad luck. Pune has a talented young squad but need to find a leader who could lead the squad in to right direction. Donanld has the first challenge on his hand to find who that person is going to be. May be after his fight with cancer the born again Yuvraj is the answer.

  • Unmesh_cric on March 27, 2013, 16:21 GMT

    Pune started off pretty well last season, winning 3 out of their first 4 games. This was mainly due to their superb bowling efforts in the initial games. But after that Dinda got injured and Marlon Samuel's action was questioned after the win against Chennai. This somewhat unsettled their bowling combination and it all went downhill from there. Steven Smith was the star performer for them all throughout. I hope they do better this season. They do need to put up better batting performances though. Indian players like Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey need to step up.

  • on March 29, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Taylor was a must in the starting XI and he was the ideal captain. Now he might have to sit out because Samuels and Smith performed exceptionally well last season. And with Nehra going to DD, Pune are really short of completing their bowling line up. Either Mendis or Parnell will have to play.

  • on March 28, 2013, 22:06 GMT

    pune has many problems, its unimaginative and has few match winners. Adding to this the poisonous mix of sammy and uv this promises to be another dismal year.

  • on March 28, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    Ideal team would be : 1. R.Uthappa 2.M.Pandey 3. M.Samuels 4. S.Smith 5.Y.Singh 6. A.Mathews 7.A.Nayar 8. P.Rasool 9. B.Kumar 10. A.Dinda 11. A.Mendis

  • on March 28, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    Angelo Mathews named as captain of Pune warriors for #ipl 6 .. why not #Robin Uthappa

  • on March 28, 2013, 14:11 GMT

    Ross Taylor is the only man to lead for them....

  • on March 28, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    They should given I Pandey a fast bolwer of madhya pradesh a go.because he is in gud form ...My Xi will be :- Luke Wright ,Robin Utthappa , Marlon Samules , Yuvraj Singh , Ross Taylor ( c), m pandey ,A Nayar , P Rassol / R sharma , B Kumar , I pandey / A Dinda , K Richardson

  • Jigzz80 on March 28, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    I feel Yuvi shouldnt captain the side... Mathews or Taylor is a good option.

  • Chetan007 on March 28, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Pune main problem is to find a good captain and a stable team. Their bowling at the start of the last season was great but got unsettled with time. They need to rotate their bowlers and play with a good batting group.

  • Publickakaptan on March 28, 2013, 8:07 GMT

    I am also hoping that this season Pune Warriors will be team to watch.They have good team with good blend of experience and youth.Enough of the bottoms Warrior.Please play as a good unit and then everything will fall in its place.Yuraj is not a captain material.I feel Steve Smith should lead.All the Best Pune warriors.

  • TNAmarkFromIndia on March 28, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    If Yuvraj is not interested in being captain, they should probably take a punt and make Robin Uthappa captain. At least his place in the team would never be in question. PWI should not have an international player as captain because that automatically takes away one spot from the overseas players' allocation. You need to be able to change the team based on the form of the players and the balance of the team and the overseas captain may not be a part of that purely as a player. A guy like Robin Uthappa though will play every match barring any injury. They could hope that Uthappa's on-field performance gets better as captain the same way it did for Gautam Gambhir.

  • srinath_f_o_john on March 28, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    My playing IX is

    Robin utthapa (wk), Manish pandey, M.Samuels, Yuvraj singh (C), S.Smith/ /Marsh, Matthews/Wright, Abhishek nayar, Bhuvneshwar kumar, Rahul Sharma, A.Dinda, Parnell

  • romySharma on March 28, 2013, 4:14 GMT

    This time Pune team is looking good they lost Michel Clark that is also good for them Playing 11 for pune will be

    Robin utthapa (wk), Manish pandey, M.Samuels, Yuvraj singh, Ross taylor(c) Matthews/Marsh/Wright, Abhishek nayar, Bhuvneshwar kumar, Rahul Sharma, A.Dinda, Parnell

    this should be best team

  • rahul_l10 on March 27, 2013, 21:49 GMT

    I think PWI should give a chance to other young players as well. In the last 2 seasons I haven't seen many been given one and seen them on the bench for the entire season. Every time I watched the game I saw either Manish Pandey or Mithun Manhas been selected even though they were underperforming. Donald is absolutely right about doing some restructuring within the team and give the young promising players a chance to play and gain some experience. Re leadership I agree that Yuvi shouldn't be taking the burden of captaincy instead Matthews or Ross Taylor should be appointed as the captain... I

  • getgopi on March 27, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    No, Allan, don't tinker with Bhuvanesh! He is doing just fiinneee.

  • on March 27, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    My Pw 11 -

    Robin utthapa (wk), Manish pandey, M.Samuels, Yuvraj singh, Ross taylor(c)(, Matthews/Marsh/Wright, Abhishek nayar, Bhuvneshwar kumar, Rahul Sharma, A.Dinda, Parnell / Mendis....SAXX!! ..Combo

    **Wright can open also providing one more mdm. fast bowling option. **Wright / Mitchell Marsh...big hittin machines **Mendis...good combo with Rahul Sharma. **Clarke shudn't play not ideal for T20's that too with occupying a place against dangerous overseas options. **Yuvi shudn,t captain no pressure on champ..tournament winner..key player..already shown in WC. ** Taylor can be a good captain option if not yuviii:)..here w go!!

  • on March 27, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    Pune will be up there this year Wright, Taylor, Mendis, Mathews... recon with this guys including the likes of Utappa, UV, Pandey, Buveneshvar... good battle on the cards.

  • on March 27, 2013, 16:21 GMT

    It only goes to show his love for the game. All the best PWI !!

  • on March 27, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    Well, I was a great supporter of PWI till DADA was there! Well written post, yes there are coming out of hurdles, good thing is Yuvi is back and he need to guide young team of PWI along with great DONALD. Players like Steve smith, Rahul Sharma, Taylor and young bhuvneswar kumar can give a good fight to big guns of IPL with Yuvi. Oh boy its gonna be a fun IPL, i guess. No more politics plz, lets enjoy a good month if IPL at its best!

  • on March 27, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    Heres an idea for Pune! Try letting Luke Wright actually get a bat this year. He played one match last year, and even then had to sit on the bench whilst two third rate Indian batsman crawled along at 5 an over. Remember, this man has the fastest hundred ever scored in Australia, plus two of the fastest T20 hundreds in history.

  • binu.emiliya on March 27, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    Iswar pandey can getbuseful tips from Donald

  • binu.emiliya on March 27, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    Iswar pandey can getbuseful tips from Donald

  • on March 27, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    Heres an idea for Pune! Try letting Luke Wright actually get a bat this year. He played one match last year, and even then had to sit on the bench whilst two third rate Indian batsman crawled along at 5 an over. Remember, this man has the fastest hundred ever scored in Australia, plus two of the fastest T20 hundreds in history.

  • on March 27, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    Well, I was a great supporter of PWI till DADA was there! Well written post, yes there are coming out of hurdles, good thing is Yuvi is back and he need to guide young team of PWI along with great DONALD. Players like Steve smith, Rahul Sharma, Taylor and young bhuvneswar kumar can give a good fight to big guns of IPL with Yuvi. Oh boy its gonna be a fun IPL, i guess. No more politics plz, lets enjoy a good month if IPL at its best!

  • on March 27, 2013, 16:21 GMT

    It only goes to show his love for the game. All the best PWI !!

  • on March 27, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    Pune will be up there this year Wright, Taylor, Mendis, Mathews... recon with this guys including the likes of Utappa, UV, Pandey, Buveneshvar... good battle on the cards.

  • on March 27, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    My Pw 11 -

    Robin utthapa (wk), Manish pandey, M.Samuels, Yuvraj singh, Ross taylor(c)(, Matthews/Marsh/Wright, Abhishek nayar, Bhuvneshwar kumar, Rahul Sharma, A.Dinda, Parnell / Mendis....SAXX!! ..Combo

    **Wright can open also providing one more mdm. fast bowling option. **Wright / Mitchell Marsh...big hittin machines **Mendis...good combo with Rahul Sharma. **Clarke shudn't play not ideal for T20's that too with occupying a place against dangerous overseas options. **Yuvi shudn,t captain no pressure on champ..tournament winner..key player..already shown in WC. ** Taylor can be a good captain option if not yuviii:)..here w go!!

  • getgopi on March 27, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    No, Allan, don't tinker with Bhuvanesh! He is doing just fiinneee.

  • rahul_l10 on March 27, 2013, 21:49 GMT

    I think PWI should give a chance to other young players as well. In the last 2 seasons I haven't seen many been given one and seen them on the bench for the entire season. Every time I watched the game I saw either Manish Pandey or Mithun Manhas been selected even though they were underperforming. Donald is absolutely right about doing some restructuring within the team and give the young promising players a chance to play and gain some experience. Re leadership I agree that Yuvi shouldn't be taking the burden of captaincy instead Matthews or Ross Taylor should be appointed as the captain... I

  • romySharma on March 28, 2013, 4:14 GMT

    This time Pune team is looking good they lost Michel Clark that is also good for them Playing 11 for pune will be

    Robin utthapa (wk), Manish pandey, M.Samuels, Yuvraj singh, Ross taylor(c) Matthews/Marsh/Wright, Abhishek nayar, Bhuvneshwar kumar, Rahul Sharma, A.Dinda, Parnell

    this should be best team

  • srinath_f_o_john on March 28, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    My playing IX is

    Robin utthapa (wk), Manish pandey, M.Samuels, Yuvraj singh (C), S.Smith/ /Marsh, Matthews/Wright, Abhishek nayar, Bhuvneshwar kumar, Rahul Sharma, A.Dinda, Parnell