Pending contractual formalities, former Zimbabwe captain and all-rounder Heath Streak will be the bowling coach for new Rajkot-based IPL franchise Gujarat Lions.
Speaking exclusively to Firstpost from Dubai, Streak said that he will definitely be accepting the opportunity to be a part of the upcoming IPL season.
"It's just down to me signing the contract. It's just more of a formality now. In terms of the position that they (Gujarat) have offered to me, it's something that I will be definitely doing . It's now just a case of me sorting out the contractual issues."
Gujarat Lions was one of the two franchises, the other being Rising Pune Super Giants, that replaced Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for two years following their suspensions.
Streak started off his coaching career in 2009 when he took up the role of bowing coach for Zimbabwe and continued till 2013. In 2014, he signed up as bowling coach for Bangladesh and this is when he came to prominence as he helped a struggling Bangladesh team achieve remarkable results in ODIs which included an impressive showing in the World Cup 2015, series wins over India, Pakistan and South Africa. Throughout this period, it was Bangladesh' pacers that outshone the spinners which was a rare occurence in the past.
According to ESPNCricinfo, Streak's contract with Bangladesh runs till June this year but it is not exclusive and the Bangladesh Cricket Board don't have problems with Streak taking over the IPL job.
Streak will be working with Brad Hodge - who has been appointed the head coach of the franchise and also a veteran in the shortest format. The former Zimbabwe all-rounder said that he was excited to work with Hodge and spoke about the goal for the ninth edition of IPL.
"When the jobs were up, I put my name forward to the franchise as a contender for the bowling coach job," Streak said. "They obviously had to wait and select the head coach first before they could make a decision on whether they needed me. If they had a head coach who was a bowling coach too in that case they wouldn't have required my services. Fortunately, Brad Hodge, who's had a lot of success in Australia as a player and as a player coach got the head coach role which allowed me to come in as a bowling coach which I am really looking forward to."
"It's very exciting for me and am excited to work along side Brad Hodge and team members such as Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, (James) Faulkner, (Dwayne) Bravo, Dale Steyn. We've also got some exciting guys in Praveen Kumar, (Dhawal) Kulkarni and Pravin Tambe. These are some really good guys that I am looking forward to working with. I hope we can bring some success to Gujarat and make it difficult for BCCI to release them after the two years. That's the goal. The franchise is there for two years and we want to be as successful as we can over that two year period," Streak added.
Streak has been offered an annual contract by Gujarat Lions and despite the pending contractual formalities, Streak had already started preparing strategies for the IPL auction.
"Hodge and I both are playing in the MCL [Masters Champions League] so we managed to have a couple of copies together and go through some stuff but obviously predominantly Brad is the head guy and he along with the franchise staff and owners and Raina had inputs as well from their side," Streak said.
"I was following the live updates my mobile phone and keeping in touch with our guys. We had a lot of discussions prior to the auctions in terms of who we will be targeting. But in auctions, it doesn't always go 100 percent the way you want, so you have to have plan B and C sometimes for certain positions ,"
"But from the feedback that I've had from the guys, they are very excited. We've got a very good group. I think some of our Indian players are very exciting. The key part to success in the IPL is having strong domestic players and I think we've definitely ticked that box. But we've got to turn that into results. Having the guys who've done it before is one thing but we've to make sure we create an environment where they can go out, enjoy themselves, perform and turn that ability into a result in IPL 2016," Streak added.
During the initial IPL draft for the two new franchises which took place in December, Rajkot formed the core of their team with some shrewd buys in Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, James Faulkner, Dwayne Bravo. Raina was later revealed as captain of the franchise.
In the 'mini' auction, they kept their purse strings tied, emerging with the lowest selling price to base price ratio at 1.77, the highest being Delhi Daredevils at 6.89. They bought 19 players, including the likes of Aaron Finch, Dale Steyn, Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik.
Asked whether Gujarat Lions were short on reserve batsmen, Streak said, " No, I think we've got some good young players. I think we are lucky with the all-rounders we have. One of the advantages of having Faulkner and Bravo is it gives us a lot more depth in our batting," Streak said.
"I certainly don't see that ( lack of reserve batsmen) as an issue. Hodge and the guys were really diligent in terms of looking at the potential players and the ones that we felt we would be able to work with and hopefully get the best out of.
"I think with players like McCullum and Finch, Bravo, Raina, Jadeja and Faulkner along with domestic ones like Karthik and a couple of other young guys, we've got recipe for success. It's just about turning that ability into form and guys performing at the right time during the tournament," Streak added.
So how does Streak plan to go about coaching world class players in such a short time ? What will be the talk predominantly - tactics, technique or both?
"I am there to talk about whatever they need. I think as international cricketers and domestic cricketers, you are always a student of this game, not only am I there to help them to keep evolving as bowlers but I am also able to learn from them and consequently evolve as a coach myself," Streak said.
"Sometimes it might be a small technical thing that you might pick up but predominantly for us it will be tactical support in making sure that they are ready for the game, they are comfortable with their preparation, how they would like to execute their skills and then post match analysis to see how we are going about. It's simple, however, you've got to make sure you don't interfere too much, support where needed and make sure that the guys are clear with their game plan," Streak signed off.