Kolkata sack Buchanan after disastrous season
Kolkata Knight Riders have ended John Buchanan's stint as coach after a disastrous IPL season in which the team finished last and was beset by a succession of controversies. Buchanan, who has been released from his contract, has a short-term coaching assignment with the England board coming up and he said he wanted to concentrate on his coaching and corporate consulting work.
Kolkata's abysmal campaign in the 2009 IPL - they had three wins in 14 games - followed an inaugural season where they ended sixth out of eight teams.
There are a few names in the mix to replace Buchanan, including Steve Waugh, Michael Bevan and Dav Whatmore; the Indian candidates include Lalchand Rajput.
"John Buchanan has informed Knight Riders that despite his hard work over the past two seasons, he has not achieved everything that he set out to and has not been able take the franchise into the future as per his vision for this team," Jay Mehta, co-owner of the franchise, said. "I would like to state that John is a great coach. He had a vision for Knight Riders and did not waver from this vision. Unfortunately, it has not brought the results that are so necessary to this franchise."
Buchanan may not have had too much success as Kolkata's coach, but he felt the groundwork was in place for an improved performance next year. "Obviously, I am very disappointed in not being able to continue with the Knight Riders and complete the work I started some 18 months," he said. "I think we have the makings of a very good IPL franchise, and the foundations are there for 2010."
A senior Kolkata official is understood to have already had an exploratory chat with Dav Whatmore, currently head of the BCCI's National Cricket Academy (NCA). Whatmore, who declined to comment, is believed to be a strong contender for the job because of his track record in the subcontinent - he coached Sri Lanka to the World Cup title in 1996 and was also coach of the Bangladesh team that upset India in the 2007 World Cup - and his experience with the Indian academy in Bangalore.
Michael Bevan, the former Australia batsman, who coached the ICL's Chennai Superstars to the inaugural league title, is said to be in the frame as well although he has also been linked to Mumbai Indians. "At this stage, it is very early in the process," Bevan, who confirmed that he had quit ICL, told Cricinfo. "It's been a bit of sounding out to see if there's interest from both parties. I don't think it's appropriate to comment on the teams concerned, but as far as I am aware these are head coaching roles. That obviously means different things in different teams but the extent of the roles in question I believe are quite senior."
One of the Indian names that a senior Kolkata player has suggested to the franchise is that of Rajput, the coach of India's winning 2007 World Twenty20 squad. Rajput, who declined to comment, was associated with the Mumbai Indians squad last year but he did not figure in the second IPL season.
There is no confirmation yet about the fate of Buchanan's support staff, which included Matthew Mott (assistant head coach), Andy Bichel (bowling coach), Wade Seccombe (wicket-keeping coach), John Deeble (fielding coach), Brad Murphy (assistant coach), Michael Buchanan (strength trainer), who is Buchanan's son, Andrew Leipus (physio) and Adrian Le Roux (trainer). "We are not in a position to comment on their status," a team spokesperson said.
Sources in New South Wales, where Mott is the team's coach, said they believed "his Kolkata job is safe" but Indian media reports have claimed that only Leipus and Le Roux are expected to retain their positions with the IPL franchise. Mott will be in India in October with the New South Wales Twenty20 team for the Champions League.
"I would love to stay," Mott told Cricinfo. "I've had two great years with Kolkata. Last season was obviously hard work, but I thought towards the end of the tournament we got a bit out of it and showed a lot of character. I signed a three year contact, so hopefully I can fulfill that and beyond.
"When you don't have success then I guess everyone comes under the microscope. I know from speaking to some of the owners after the tournament that they were planning to conduct a pretty thorough review of the franchise."
Ajay Shankar and Alex Brown are deputy editors at Cricinfo