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There’s no question, Virat Kohli is RCB captain: Simon Katich

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Recently the owners at Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) carried out a complete overhaul of the coaching staff, brining in former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson as team director and appointing former Australia batsman Simon Katich as the head coach.

On Friday, in Bengaluru, both Hesson and Katich had a media interaction where they discussed a wide range of issues including why they feel Royal Challengers, which is lead by India captain Virat Kohli, can be realistic about winning their maiden IPL title in 2020.

Excerpts:

Royal Challengers Bangalore haven’t made the playoffs for three seasons now. How can you turn it around?

Mike Hesson: We have spent a lot of time in the last two weeks looking at how we want to structure things as a support staff. With the structure we have got and people we’ve got around us, we’re well aware that we have to make a few tweaks in the squad to get the balance that we think we need moving forward. We are not going to talk about player names, obviously we are not going to give too much away, but there has certainly been a lot of behind the scenes thinking about how we want to structure things.

ALSO READ – RCB support staff overhaul: Kirsten and Nehra out, Hesson and Katich in

Has there been any thought at all at looking at a different captain?

Simon Katich: Not at all.

How will the team management set-up work in the new structure?

Hesson: I will be having input pre-game, but Simon and Virat will be in charge on game days in terms of the XI they put on the park. The dealings I had with both are inclusive as well. I am sure coaches that have experience at certain venues against opposition, but it’s a collective agreement. But Simon and Virat will be in charge on game days.

“You need to have guys who are prepared to put the team first over their individual needs of trying keep getting a game, or just potentially do well for the next option.”

RCB’s head coach on what he expects

Kohli has lead for the past seven seasons. The outside perception is he calls the shots. Is that a strength or do you have any apprehensions about working with him?

Katich: From our point of view, we have been aligned about how we are going to go about things. We haven’t got that perception about Virat at all. Potentially there is a learning from that and the fact that what he has done in the past, maybe he has learnt from that and wants to go about things differently moving forward. But from what we’ve discussed with him so far, he is very much been aligned about how we want to move forward, and happy to take advice from our experience and how we see things.

There is always going to be different opinions, but it is about what is best for the team and I think we have both (him and Hesson) spoken about it over the last couple of weeks. There’s no question, for us Virat is captain.

How easy or difficult is it to talk to with superstar players like Kohli or Brendon McCullum (at New Zealand when he was head coach) to have an open discussion on decision-making?

Hesson: Simon, Virat and myself, everybody have been working together to this point and so far those relationships have been very good. There is a time and place for everything, but the three of us have to be brutally honest with each other behind closed doors around every decision.

There will be decisions we all make where we might say: “hang on, what we were thinking there?” And it might not necessarily be saying you have done something wrong. It’s just asking for clarity on what you were thinking. I think this is responsibility of all of us to challenge the three of us as a leadership group to make sure we are getting the best out of each other. We are not gonna be passive and not be afraid of having honest discussions. There is no value in that for anybody.

Royal Challengers have never been short of talent. As a coach how do you get that talent work together?

Katich: A big part of it is identifying what sort of style of players will bat well with each other or potentially bowl well in partnerships together in different phases of the innings. So that’s something we are working through at the moment. But then when it comes to a team’s style of play, you need to have guys with that character that they are prepared to put the team first over their individual needs of trying keep getting a game, or just potentially do well for the next option.

So that’s the balancing act of trying to put a squad together and that’s where the character side of it comes into it because yes, they are a lot of players out there with lots of talent but are they playing in winning teams and how are they contributing in being part of winning teams? So that’s all the things we have to weigh up when we are making these judgments over the next few months.

How do you make sure the Chinnaswamy pitch will favour RCB so that they utilise home advantage, a crucial determining factor in making play-offs?

Katich: It was probably the first thing I mentioned when I first came on about the job, was asking the question about the wicket because I have seen it evolved over the last four years. Obviously in 2017, it was a different type of wicket given what happened with the drainage. And obviously it affected the balance of the team because it was playing differently to what the team had been used to in the past. So that was one of the first questions asked because you want to really utilise your home ground advantage for seven games and if you make it a fortress which others teams have done at their venues, whether it’s at Chennai (Chennai Super Kings) or whoever it is, that becomes a big determining factor whether you can make it to the playoffs. So that’s one thing we certainly will be taking into account and making sure that it suits the balance of our team and so we have to understand how it is going to play.



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West Indies selector Roger Harper backs Darren Bravo to return to Test side

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Darren Bravo might have been left out of the West Indies squad for the one-off Test against Afghanistan, but lead selector Roger Harper backed the batsman to strike form in domestic cricket and return to the side.

Bravo scored a mere 47 runs in four innings at an average of 15.66 in the Test series against India. His form hardly improved in the CPL, where he managed 128 runs in seven innings, striking at 103.22, and only one half-century.

“Firstly I don’t want to term it as dropping a player like Darren Bravo,” Harper said in a press conference at the Queen’s Park Oval on Wednesday. “We all know the quality of a player like Darren Bravo, with the sort of Test and one-day record he has representing West Indies.

“We recognised Darren has not been at his best as we have seen over the years. Therefore, we wanted to give him the opportunity to go away, maybe play club cricket, but definitely our regional cricket, get his game right and come back to being the best he can be, so that he can make a real positive impact for our West Indies team and be the force we know he can be in world cricket.”

The new selection panel of Harper, Miles Bascombe and coach Phil Simmons also gave maiden call-ups to legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr and opener Brandon King for the white-ball squads. Walsh Jr topped the bowling charts in the 2019 CPL with 22 wickets from nine games. But more than the wickets, it was his wicket-taking ability – an astonishing strike rate of 9.1 – that impressed the selectors. King was the leading run-scorer with 496 runs at an average of 55.11 and a strike rate of 148.94.

ALSO READ: Hayden Walsh Jr’s moment of truth, at 36,000 feet

“During the CPL, he [Walsh Jr] excited everyone with his performances and given the direction white-ball cricket has gone, we realize the need for bowlers capable of taking wickets,” Harper said. “Walsh has proven he is a wicket-taker and I think he will have a great impact on the team, especially in middle overs so that we won’t be drifting through but can keep control of games.

“He [King] had an outstanding season, made runs in our domestic four-day competition and followed it up with an outstanding CPL that demanded a place in the team. We were impressed not just by his stroke play, but his maturity and wish him all the best.”

Apart from King and Walsh Jr, experienced batsman Lendl Simmons also reaped rewards of a strong show in the CPL and made a comeback to the T20I side. His 430 runs at an average of 39.09 and a strike rate of 150.34 were second only to King’s tally. Meanwhile, Denesh Ramdin, who last played a T20I in November 2018 when West Indies toured India, also found a place in the 20-over side as the selectors went for a back-up wicketkeeper in each format.

“Similar to Brandon King, his [Simmons’] weight of runs in the CPL prior to the squad selection made us had to consider him,” Harper said. “When we looked at the balance of the team, we needed a player like him because he is a versatile batsman.

“One of the things we tried to carefully do in all three squads is to have a wicketkeeper as cover. Denesh brings with him a lot of experience and as a batsman can contribute in the middle if required and I think he will add a good blend to the team as well.”

Talking about his own appointment, Harper said his target was to make the selection process as transparent as possible.

“If the West Indies team is to move forward it’s an area we have to get right. I look forward to working with coach Simmons, fellow selector Bascombe, taking the advice of captain Holder and Pollard so that we make this process as transparent as possible, so that every player who is performing and meeting the criteria, will feel they have a fair chance at being selected. Once we do that I believe players will give their best and we will see a positive effect of that on the field.”



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‘I feel guilty’ – Mohammad Naveed accepts he failed to report corrupt approach

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Mohammad Naveed, the UAE fast bowler and captain facing ICC corruption charges, says he made a “mistake” in not reporting an approach made to him.

According to a report in the National, Naveed was approached by a person claiming to be a representative from a T10 franchise but once the 32-year old realised the person he was meeting was a “fixer” he ended the conversation.

Naveed, however, faces more than just a failure to report charge. On Wednesday, the ICC charged him and senior batsman Shaiman Anwar with “contriving, or being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly, the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of matches in the upcoming ICC World T20 Qualifiers 2019.” ESPNcricinfo understands that both players, allegedly, stood to gain up to US$272,000 (approx.) if they were successful in their attempts.

“I am very sincere about my game, I am very sincere about my career,” Naveed told the National. “I have been successful for the UAE around the world, in leagues, for franchises. That is because I am very sincere about my game.

“Now this has happened, I feel guilty. Why did I not talk to the board, why did I not talk to the ICC? It is my mistake, and I feel guilty.”

“My family is let down, my friends are let down. Everybody is let down. This was my mistake.

A third UAE player has also been charged in the ICC’s investigation. Qadeer Ahmed is in trouble for “failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in conduct that would amount to Corrupt Conduct under the Code” in relation to the Zimbabwe v UAE series in April 2019 and the Netherlands v UAE series in August 2019. The 33-year-old has played only 11 ODIs and ten T20Is for UAE but Naveed has been one of the team’s pillars.

“I’m only scared of my God, not anybody else,” Naveed said. “I speak very truly. My passion is cricket, I love cricket, my life is cricket.

“I am a successful cricketer – not only in Associate cricket, but in all the world.

“Look at my ranking, look at my economy rate. My focus is only on cricket, not on being a bad boy.”

Naveed and his team-mates have 14 days from October 16, 2019 to respond to the ICC’s charges.



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Aiden Markram ruled out of third Test with self-inflicted wrist injury

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Aiden Markram has been ruled out of the third Test against India, starting on October 19 in Ranchi, after sustaining an injury to his right wrist. After his dismissal in South Africa’s second innings in the Pune Test, Markram lashed out at a solid object in frustration, resulting in the injury.

Markram was given out lbw by the on-field umpire, and after a consultation with his opening partner Dean Elgar, he chose not to review the decision. However, replays showed the ball would have missed the leg stump.

“A CT scan of Aiden Markram’s wrist showed a fracture involving the wrist bones,” team doctor Hashendra Ramjee said in a press release. “The medical team has therefore ruled him out of the next Test match against India. Arrangements have been made for him to see a specialist on his return to South Africa for further management of the injury.”

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