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Andy Flower: We need highly skillful bowlers at Chinnaswamy

The RCB head coach was reluctant to talk recruitment for next season, but acknowledged bowling at home will be key

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
23-May-2024
Royal Challengers Bengaluru must focus on building a team that can do well at home when the mega auction comes around according to their head coach Andy Flower in the aftermath of their Eliminator exit against Rajasthan Royals. That means they have to buy "highly skillful bowlers" who will be able to cope with the small boundaries at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
"I think our guys have fought brilliantly over the last 10 weeks to come back from our first half of the tournament was a great effort," Flower said, "And I certainly would pay tribute to Faf du Plessis for his captaincy and Faf and Virat [Kohli] for the way they've led from the front as role models and professional sports people. But also the way they've played. They both really been great role models for everyone else and the rest of the boys fought really hard to get us back into the tournament."
RCB won six matches in a row to improve their net run-rate to make a dramatic last-minute dash into the playoffs. But they had a poor run in the first half of the season, winning just one out of seven games. Their bowling was one of the biggest concerns, with captain du Plessis then admitting that his side was struggling because their bowlers did not have "as many weapons". RCB also struggled to convert their high-scoring home venue into a fortress, winning just one out of four games in the first half. But they returned to win the last three games at the venue.
"As far as recruitment for next year," Flower said, "it's a bit early to talk about that. Quite frankly, I don't want to talk about that yet. I do think though the Chinnaswamy has some particular qualities that we need to be able to exploit. You certainly need highly skillful bowlers at Chinnaswamy. Simply pace is not going to be the answer there. You need skillful, intelligent bowlers and people that can bowl to really specific plans at Chinnaswamy
"And I think we've all seen how the power game has affected T20 cricket recently. So on the batting front, you certainly need to recruit batsmen with that sort of power that can keep up that sort of tempo."

T20 leagues vs internationals: 'A bit of a problem that cricket has at the moment'

One batter who did give RCB that kind of tempo was Will Jacks, who helped them in their quest to up their net run-rate enough that they could beat three other teams into the playoffs. However, having got there, RCB did not have access to Jacks because he was called back to England to prepare for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
"It is a bit of a problem that the cricket world and the cricket calendar has at the moment," Flower said. "We saw at the Big Bash recently, a lot of the overseas players left before the playoffs and the finals so it really devalued the tournament to a certain extent. You saw in the ILT20 as well, you saw a lot of coming and going with people that had finished in the SA20 and then came in even just for the finals of the ILT20. I think competitions have to be careful about that because the integrity of the competition is really important.
"With a World Cup just around the corner, it's very difficult. I completely understand why England wanted to recall those players. If I were England coach, I think I will be doing the same. So there are conundrums for the game that have to be ironed out. I'm not sure how with the busy-ness of the calendar at the moment. But it is a pity.
"Will Jacks really hit his straps with us. He enjoyed the tournament with us and we enjoyed his power at No. 3 obviously. And it was a pity not to have him. But Cameron Green stepped into those shoes really well. [He] did really well for us, batting in a preferred position for him actually. At the moment that's something I can't control so we just try to make the best of it."

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo