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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 IPLT20.com 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.
Rajasthan Royals needed 85 runs from 39 balls with their top five back in the hut. The result of the match seemed a foregone conclusion. The writing was on the wall. Except that it wasn’t. At least that’s what Steven Smith and James Faulkner believed.
Together, the two Australians scripted a miracle at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium as the Royal Challengers Bangalore contingent was lulled into a stunning silence. Smith and Faulkner chased down RCB’s 190 with seven balls to spare.
Man of the Match, James Faulkner (41 off 17 balls and one for 42) tried to describe what transpired out there in words in his post-match chat with IPLT20.com. Here’s what we got from him:
You guys never give up, do you?
When you are in a position we were in, you have nothing to lose. It’s all or nothing. Chasing a total down is always a nice feeling, but chasing 190 from that position is a very special feeling for the team.
When you and Steve got together, what was the talk like?
They were holding us up with spin, so personally I thought I’ll just play myself in; maybe get a single or play out a dot or if it’s a bad one, put it away. I started a bit slowly and then thought I’ll take on the medium pacers. It worked for me, but I thought the 18th over where Steven took on Ashok Dinda (for 22 runs) was when the game swung back in our favour. The rest is history.
Did you set targets over-wise?
Yes, we knew it was all about scraping off whatever we could in every over and maybe get the target down to 10 runs in the last over. That’s what is going to win you T20 games when you’re chasing 190. In the middle overs, Yuvraj bowled really well and they restricted us as well as took wickets. That made it very hard for us. So, it was extremely special to win from there.
Was the mood a little pensive after conceding 190?
I thought AB de Villiers played an exceptional innings and he is one of the hardest players to bowl to in T20 cricket. We knew it was going to be tough coming against him. Then add Yuvraj’s innings to that, which was unbelievable. So, two class players took the game away from us at the halfway mark. We won the game of cricket in the end, but it was a very hard one.
You more than made up for the pounding you received with the ball today.
Yes, I must admit that this is not one of my favourite grounds in the world to bowl at, especially when you are bowling to some of the world’s best T20 cricketers. We might have to come back here for the final, but there is a lot of cricket to be played before that. What makes the Royals such a spirited bunch?
All we are concerned about is to play cricket for each other. We haven’t got many superstars and that adds to the beauty of how we coordinate and complement each other on the field. We have a very healthy environment in our team, guided by our coach, mentor and captain. It has helped us so far and hopefully will continue to do so.