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News

Mike Hesson appointed Islamabad United head coach

Former New Zealand coach takes over from Azhar Mahmood as the franchise eyes a third PSL title

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
08-Nov-2023
Mike Hesson worked with Faf du Plessis at Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL  •  BCCI

Mike Hesson worked with Faf du Plessis at Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL  •  BCCI

Islamabad United have appointed former New Zealand coach and Royal Challengers Bangalore director Mike Hesson as their head coach. United praised Hesson's "exceptional track record in international cricket and a reputation for strategic leadership", and said he would bring "unparalleled excellence and experience" to the team.
United were the PSL's most successful side initially, winning two of the first three titles with the late Dean Jones as head coach. Since his passing, United have switched between several coaches, including Misbah-ul-Haq, Johan Botha, and most recently Azhar Mahmood, though a third PSL title has proved elusive; they are the only side not to have reached the final since 2018. The 2016 and 2018 champions are understood to have been in discussions for some time, with United targeting Hesson as their first choice.
"Mike is very strategic and analytical on his approach, has proven skills of creating new and modern ways of playing - something his NZ stint demonstrates - and is a great people-manager," United owner Ali Naqvi told ESPNcricinfo. "These are all the attributes ISLU has focussed on as a team from season one. In some ways he is a perfect fit. This is a big endorsement on the brand and quality of cricket played at PSL and how United is viewed by global cricket professionals."
In an official statement, Naqvi said he was "thrilled to bring in a globally accomplished and premier name like Hesson to Islamabad United. His rich history in coaching and his exceptional work with New Zealand and RCB make him the ideal choice to lead our team. Hesson's coaching philosophy aligns closely with the values and ambitions of Islamabad United, and we are confident that his expertise will take our team to new heights."
Hesson said he had heard plenty about the quality of the PSL and was excited to experience it for himself. "I am delighted to be a part of Islamabad United," Hesson said. "The professional, modern, and dimagh se (mindful) approach associated with the franchise resonates strongly with me. I am also impressed with United's strategy built around the principle of 4 Es - Excellence, Empowerment, Education and Environment. I look forward to working with the talented players and staff to build a successful team and deliver exciting cricket to the fans."
Hesson, 49, was appointed head coach of New Zealand in 2012, enjoying a highly successful six years in the position with the national side. Under Hesson, New Zealand became a dominant force at home and reached their first World Cup final in 2015, when they lost to Australia.
He was appointed director of cricket for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL in 2019, before they parted ways earlier this year.
PSL 2024 is scheduled to start in February and will run till around mid-March.

Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000