Reeve on Kolkata Knight Riders coaching shortlist
Dermot Reeve, the former England allrounder, is the latest name on a shortlist of candidates prepared by Kolkata Knight Riders to replace John Buchanan as coach of the IPL team. The franchise owners, including Shah Rukh Khan, the Bollywood star, will meet the candidates in a series of interviews starting this weekend with Richard Pybus, till recently the coach of Titans, the South African franchise, confirming his meeting in Mumbai on Saturday.
John Wright, the former India coach, and Duncan Fletcher, the former England coach, are also on the shortlist, which includes some Indian candidates too. Kolkata, which finished last in IPL 2009, is looking at a blend of Indian and foreign coaching staff - including Lalchand Rajput, in charge of the Indian team that won the 2007 World Twenty20 - as part of a revamp following the team's below-par performance over the last two years under Buchanan.
Kolkata officials are expected to meet Wright, who is in Chennai with the New Zealand A team for the Buchi Babu tournament, next week. Wright, however, is no longer the overwhelming favourite for the job, as it was believed earlier, because one of the key benchmarks that the franchise has laid down is previous experience in coaching a Twenty20 side. Besides, Wright, who is also a New Zealand selector, may not be able to commit himself to Kolkata for about nine months a year, which is what the team ideally expects. Kolkata had also approached Dav Whatmore, who coached Sri Lanka to the 1996 World Cup, for the job but this move has not moved beyond unofficial, preliminary discussions.
Reeve and Pybus, on the other hand, were in charge of Twenty20 teams that won their respective domestic championships last year. Reeve, who led Warwickshire to three trophies in 1994, is known for his innovative, often controversial, approach to the game. He coaches New Zealand's Central Districts, which slipped down the domestic Twenty20 ladder to finish fifth this season.
Pybus - formerly a Pakistan coach - took Titans to the domestic Standard Bank Pro20 Series title last year to qualify for the 2008 Champions League, which was cancelled following the terror attacks in Mumbai. The Titans, however, finished fifth this year, following which he ended his four-year tenure. Pybus said that he will meet the Kolkata owners on Saturday in what he said would be a fact-finding visit.
"The main thing is I am coming out to meet the owners and representatives of Kolkata and understand what their expectations are and find out what the lay of the land is on that side," Pybus told Cricinfo. "I hope to find out what they are looking for and to see whether that meets up with what I am looking for. It really is a fact-finding weekend from my side, and I can't go further than that at this point."
Pybus who watched all the IPL teams play at SuperSport Park, where the Titans are based, in the past season, said coaching Kolkata would be an exciting challenge. "Kolkata are a big team but they haven't done as well as they would have liked in the first two seasons of IPL," he said. "But I believe they have the potential to be one of the dominant sides in the IPL. So that's an exciting challenge in itself."
He refused, however, to reveal his views on Kolkata's performance so far. "I don't want to get drawn into what happened last season," he said. "What's done is done. I am certainly not going to sit on judgment on what happened with the side over the last two years because only those who have been central to that will really understand what's been going on."
Kolkata is also expected to name a new captain after the coach is appointed, although it is widely believed that Sourav Ganguly will regain the job after being replaced by Brendon McCullum last season. McCullum will not be available for most of the next IPL - from March 12 to April 25 - and will play instead for New Zealand against Australia in the home series in March.
The high-profile Kolkata Knight Riders decided to replace Buchanan after they finished sixth in the inaugural IPL and slipped to eighth this time. Buchanan's tenure was marred by controversy after the former Australian coach unveiled his multi-captaincy theory that generated a lot of debate worldwide and then replaced Ganguly, the local icon, as captain.
Ajay Shankar is a deputy editor at Cricinfo