Yuvraj worked hard on his spin game: Vettori

RCB coach says conscious effort to move feet, premeditating movements worked for the southpaw

Bengaluru 12 May 2014
Daniel Vettori has achieved everything young in his life. At 18, he became the youngest Test cricketer from New Zealand, and then took over the captaincy at 27. Now, at only 35 years old, Vettori is the head coach of the Royals Challengers Bangalore.

The transition from player to coach has been sudden for the former Kiwi captain, considering he was part of the RCB squad in Pepsi IPL 2013. Although RCB’s losing streak has denied him a honeymoon period as a coach, it has been an enriching experience for Vettori.

He spoke to about the challenges of this new role after RCB’s shock defeat to the Rajasthan Royals in Bengaluru. He also spoke fondly of Yuvraj Singh, who left his lean patch behind him with a 38-ball 83, and expressed pleasure at the rise of leg-spinners in the tournament.

Here are excerpts from his interview:

How has this coaching experience been for you?

It has been very different. The transition from being a player to a coach in such a short span of time is very similar being a captain. You try to set things up for the team and organize so that the team works as smoothly as possible. Then you just let the players go out there and play their game.

Is this the path you want to take in the future?

I don’t know. Coaching in the IPL is a unique opportunity and I enjoy this challenge. But it requires me to stay away only for a few months. I have a young family and I don’t know if I want to stay away from them for long periods of time.

Last year, you were one of the players, and although you didn’t play a game, you were a mentor to the players. This year, you are the head coach. Does the change in designation bring about a lot of change in what you do?

I hope not. You have to put a little bit of effort, I suppose because you’re looking after the guys, helping out with the fielding and throw-downs and stuff. There’s a lot more physical aspect to it than I probably understood when I took over the role, but it is part of the job that I have enjoyed. I have also tried to bring in some planning and strategising, which is again similar to captaincy. The bulk of the job is to develop the younger players.

Generally we see the head coaches double up as batting coaches. Does being a bowling all-rounder help you understand both batsmen and bowlers?

I hope so. But again, there’s not much to contribute in terms of bowling or batting. They all know what they are doing. T20 is more of a confidence game. We saw today how hard it can be – you can be in an excellent position and slip quickly. It’s more about trying to keep the guys confident when these things happen and preparing them for the next challenge mentally.

How do you do that? What do you tell the boys after a heartbreaking loss like this?

Just try to look at the things that actually went well during the match. Yuvraj, for instance, was under a bit of pressure, but he came out today and played exceptionally well with the bat and the ball. The likes of AB de Villiers and Chahal have continued to perform for us consistently. You look at those things, but you also realise that at the end of the day, it all boils down to winning or losing. If you keep losing, you’ve got to change a few things here and there.

As a left-arm spinner, you must have had a big role to play in getting Yuvraj back in form.

Ah, very little. He just worked it out for himself. He worked hard on his game against the spinners and made subtle changes. He gave himself a chance, got himself in and then we all saw the Yuvraj that we all have known so long. His performance really should have won us the game, but unfortunately we slipped up in the last four or five overs.

He was batting with a different stance today. Anything to it?

He was trying to move his feet a bit more. He was getting caught in the crease in the previous matches and so today he made a conscious effort to premeditate his movement. It worked.

Do you bowl a lot to the likes of Gayle, Virat, Yuvraj and AB in the nets?

Yes, of course. That’s one thing I hope I can bring in to the team more than anything – that close experience of playing in the IPL and trying to transfer some of that knowledge to the guys playing.

What is the trend you see in this season of IPL?

I think this has been a leg-spinner’s tournament – (Pravin) Tambe and (Rahul) Tewatia today for RR, (Amit) Mishra and (Karn) Sharma for SRH and Chahal for us. We’ve seen the rise of the leg-spinners, which is great because everyone loves watching a leggie in action. It’s a really tough art to master, but when you see these guys do so well, it inspires youngsters.
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