Royal Challengers Bangalore have brought the axe down on Gary Kirsten and Ashish Nehra, the batting and bowling coach respectively, in reaction to the team's continued failure to put up strong results at the IPL. In a major overhaul of the backroom staff, the franchise has appointed former New Zealand head coach Mike Hesson as director of cricket and former Australia batsman Simon Katich as head coach.
Nehra, the former India pacer, and Kirsten, the former South Africa batsman with vast coaching experience including with India during their 2011 World Cup win, had been appointed after former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori was removed from the top job at the end of the 2018 season. Both Nehra and Kirsten were part of the leadership group along with Royal Challengers' captain Virat Kohli after that, but the team that had made the final in 2016 were the wooden spooners in IPL 2019, leading to a rethink by the management.
According to Sanjeev Churiwala, the Royal Challengers chairman, the move to switch to a single-coach model became necessary because the franchise wanted to achieve "high performance".
"RCB's purpose is to be the most trusted, respected and best-performing T20 franchise and hence our constant endeavour is to create a culture of excellence and high performance for every member of the team," he said in a media statement.
Churiwala said both Hesson, the former New Zealand and Kings XI Punjab coach, and Katich, the former Australia batsman who was Kolkata Knight Riders' assistant coach till last season, had the necessary experience to create a "winning culture" at Royal Challengers, who have never won the IPL despite reaching the final thrice. "We believe that Mike's extensive experience in building strong teams along with Simon's powerful cricket experience will help us create a winning culture. As a result of this restructuring exercise, we will be moving to a single-coach model."
Interestingly, both Hesson and Katich were released by their respective franchises after the 2019 season of the IPL. Hesson was let go by Kings XI after they finished sixth, while Katich, who joined Knight Riders as assistant to Jacques Kallis in 2015, was part of a run where the team competed well but failed to make the final even once.
Katich did, however, enhance his coaching credentials by winning successive CPL titles in 2017 and 2018 as head coach of Trinbago Knight Riders, which is owned by the Knight Riders group.
In a statement, Royal Challengers said that Hesson would be the pointsperson for all cricket matters going forward, including being responsible for "defining policy, strategy, programs, scouting, performance management and bringing in best practices throughout all aspects of the RCB's cricketing pathway". He will also be part of the management team and will liaise with Kohli and Katich on all cricketing issues.
"This is a new position created within the franchise. Mike Hesson brings with him strong cricketing experience of being head coach and mentor to the New Zealand team with a focus on T20 and has earned an international reputation as a leader who achieves results without sacrificing on culture," the statement said. "Simon Katich as head coach will inculcate the high-performance culture in the team. Simon has strong credentials in T20 cricket format as a head coach and captain who has won multiple championships."
Of the two men let go by the franchise, Nehra was in his first coaching gig since retiring as a player in late 2017, while for Kirsten, the latest development means he has now been sacked by two IPL franchises; he was earlier removed after serving just two years of his three-year contract with Delhi Daredevils (now Capitals) in 2015.