Indian Premier League February 21, 2008

Bangalore line up Martin Crowe


Robin Singh will be guiding the Hyderabad team in the IPL © AFP
 

The Indian Premier League's player auction on Wednesday saw the eight franchises battle with bids, but the process of building a team has only begun ahead of the tournament in April.

The IPL's Bangalore franchise, Royal Challengers, are on the verge of signing Martin Crowe as part of their strategic management team, Cricinfo has learned, with only the paperwork left to be completed. Hyderabad have snapped up Robin Singh, India's fielding coach. Vijay Mohanraj, the team's chief executive, confirmed Singh's appointment as the team's coach.

Crowe, the former New Zealand captain, is expected to be a backroom player for Bangalore, handling key responsibilities in cricket and marketing, while Venkatesh Prasad, India's bowling coach, is likely to play a more visible, hands-on role.

Crowe, Prasad and Singh join a high-profile list of names of IPL support staff, which includes John Buchanan, the former Australia coach, for Kolkata, and Tom Moody, the former Sri Lanka coach, for Mohali.

Among the other franchises, Delhi had already designated Victoria's Greg Shipperd as their coach. Mumbai, Chennai and Jaipur are yet to reveal their cards.

Bangalore believe Crowe is the kind of innovator and out-of-the-box thinker the team, led by Rahul Dravid, needs for the Twenty20 format. Apparently, Crowe's record of having invented the Cricket Max format as far back as 1996 has gone in his favour. Besides, some of the innovations in Cricket Max have found a place in the Twenty20 format.

Crowe as New Zealand captain was also the prime mover behind launching the burly left-hander Mark Greatbatch as an aggressive opener during the 1992 World Cup, and even got offspinner Dipak Patel to open the bowling in that tournament.

Bangalore will hope that Crowe lends just the right kind of drive to a team that's currently leaning on the traditional batting foundation of Dravid and the two signings from the auction: South Africa's Jacques Kallis and India's Wasim Jaffer.

Hyderabad, who bought Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds for US$1.35 million, said Singh was their "logical choice" for coach.

"Former Hyderabad offspinner and domestic veteran Kanwaljit Singh will assist Robin," Mohanraj, a former Ranji opener for Hyderabad, said. "Robin is a logical choice as he understands the Indian conditions. The tournament is just over a month away, and he wouldn't need any time to adjust to the situation here, unlike maybe some of the foreign coaches. He has also worked with our Indian players [VVS Laxman, Rohit Sharma and RP Singh], which makes it easier."

The Bangalore franchise, meanwhile, will unveil their team logo on Friday evening at their home ground, Chinnaswamy Stadium, which will also host the IPL's opening ceremony on April 18.

Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo in Bangalore