Ricky Ponting has said that his lack of success as a batsman in Twenty20 cricket, especially in the IPL, will have no bearing on his new role as head coach of Mumbai Indians.
"That's not hard at all. Although I was not a very good T20 player, the best thing is that I understand the game pretty well. I have been around the game for a long time. The fact is I was here in IPL 6, started the tournament, did not play really well, so that was when I actually went into a bit of coaching role when I stepped down from playing and that turned out to be pretty well," Ponting said ahead of Mumbai Indians' departure to Kolkata for Wednesday's IPL 2015 opener against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders.
Ponting's 10 innings in the IPL - four with Knight Riders in 2008 and six with Mumbai Indians in 2013 -fetched him just 91 runs. His decision to drop himself after tallying 52 runs in 2013 turned out to be the turning point for Mumbai Indians. Ponting passed on the captaincy mantle to Rohit Sharma and the team went on to win their only IPL title.
Since then, Ponting has been keeping himself at pace with the shortest version of the game. He spent some time with Mumbai Indians in an advisory capacity at the start of IPL 2014 before taking over as head coach ahead of the 2015 player auction.
"For the last two years, I have been commentating on T20 back in Australia, so I have stayed really close to the game. I am understanding the way the game is played, understanding more and more the tactical side of the game.
"When you take a step back from playing, you analyse the game a lot closer, considering a lot of tactical sides of the game. That's the sort of stuff I have been working to bring in to Mumbai Indians this year. I have been responsible for the tactical side of things, the planning side of things and making sure the planning is as best as it can be and we have our players 100 per cent prepared for anything that might pop up during a game."
Rohit, who joined Mumbai Indians' week-long camp at Wankhede Stadium after returning from the World Cup, was all praise for Ponting, and expected that the head coach's presence will lead to Mumbai Indians repeating their 2013 heroics.
"He has already showed it in 2013 when he led in the first six games and made the huge decision of dropping himself from the team to get the balance right," Rohit said. "You see such things very rarely. It does not happen every day. After that, as he said, he took over the mentoring role, the coaching role and got the team together. It turned out to be a tremendous phase for us.
"We went on to win the championship. We expect the same this year. We understand each other pretty well. His thinking of the game is really broad. He understands the game really well. He was the leader of the Australian side and he won them two World Cups. He knows how to win big tournaments. He brings a lot to the table. Am sure this year is also going to be another exciting year for us."
Since his appointment as head coach last December, Ponting has had a lot of time to ease into the role. Ahead of the auction in February, Ponting, along with Rohit, played a significant role in Mumbai Indians' zeroing in on their domestic signings for the season. Mumbai Indians had conducted trials for 50-plus domestic players. Ponting went through footage of all of them before shortlisting half a dozen.
For the last week, Ponting has been closely working with the domestic players during training. He has been discussing the nuances of batting with virtually every domestic batsman. It has been noticed that he would be the first to enter and the last to exit Wankhede through the last week. Ponting stressed he would continue to focus on Indian talent during the tournament.
"I will be hands-on as a coach. I will work very closely, particularly with the younger guys. The internationals, they have played a lot, they don't really need much of technical advice. They can go into the nets and do what they want to do and get themselves prepared. But with some of the younger guys, they have got a lot that I can pass on as far as the batting side of things go, how they think as well, how they get through a certain situation, how they think about playing a certain shot off a certain bowler.
"I have been going to the nets early every day, I have been at training an hour and a half earlier than most of the boys turn up and I will continue right through the IPL."