Geoff Marsh, the former Australian opener, has been appointed coach of the Sahara Pune Warriors, one of the two new IPL franchises which will join the competition next season. Marsh's coaching credentials include overseeing Australia's march to the title in the 1999 World Cup and being in charge of Zimbabwe between 2001 and 2004.
Marsh said his primary task as coach would be to mould a team out of a group of players from different countries. "The team winning [the] IPL have done this very well," he told PTI. They played as a team and gel together. That's the role of a coach and we will be working on that."
He will be assisted by former England allrounder Dermot Reeve, whose most recent assignment was a year coaching New Zealand's Twenty20 champions Central Districts.
Marsh's connection to the IPL so far had been through his two sons - Shaun and Mitchell - who participated in the tournament this season. Shaun, 26, shot to international prominence with a glut of runs in the inaugural season for Kings XI Punjab with whom he stayed for two more years, while Mitchell, 18, played a handful of matches for Deccan Chargers this season.
Pune do not have a squad of players yet, and any strategy by the new coaching staff for building a team can be made only after the IPL governing council decides whether the original eight franchises will get to retain players.
However, Sahara chairman Subrata Roy said he hopes all the players would be available at the auction to give the two new franchises a fair chance. "We feel that the two new teams should get a [level] playing field. The rules said that each team can retain maximum four players. We want that there should be an open auction so teams are balanced.
"Teams should be more competitive and hope that we will get a chance to select from all the available players from the country and abroad."
Roy also said Pune plans to focus on selecting players from Uttar Pradesh "We have very promising youngsters. As more than 35 players are to be selected in the team, players from UP will definitely get priority and special consideration would be given to them."
Outside of the IPL season, Roy intends to take the team to other countries to play exhibition matches. "They will travel to the other countries like Latin America to promote cricket as so many countries are eager to develop the game there after Twenty20."
The Sahara group, one of the biggest patrons of sports in the country, became owners of the Pune franchise in March after bidding a staggering US$370m.