Even if Mike Hesson was disappointed with losing out in the race for the job of India coach, he didn’t let it show when quizzed on the sidelines of the Karnataka Premier League.
The Kapil Dev-lead Cricket Advisory Committee shortlisted six candidates to lead the Indian team till the T20 World Cup in 2021, and Hesson was on this list along with Ravi Shastri, Robin Singh, Lalchand Rajput, Tom Moody and Phil Simmons.
After Simmons pulled out of the race earlier in the day on 16 August, Shastri pipped the remaining five to extend his current contract, but reports surfaced a few days later that Hesson only just missed out on the job, and that too because of the Kiwi’s lack of experience as an international cricketer.
“I went through the process and I am happy with the process. I wish Ravi and the team the best of luck,” said Hesson, who is in Mysuru on a commentary stint.
“As a coach, you’re always going to be judged only as a coach. Within any coaching group, though, you need plenty of playing experience. That said, I think it’s more about the combination of coaches. I am sure team India has put together a good crew.”
Hesson, who hasn’t played international cricket, started his coaching career at an unusually young age of 22 and has since been spoken in high regard. After a brief stint with the Kenyan national side, he took over from John Wright as the New Zealand coach in 2012. Hesson, who guided New Zealand to their first-ever World Cup final in 2015, resigned in 2018.
Hesson subsequently signed a two-year contract with Indian Premier League-side Kings XI Punjab in 2018. He resigned midway through his contract with Punjab and was only recently named Director Cricket Operations of Royal Challengers Bangalore, a role which was created within the franchise to fit Hesson’s credentials.
“The first month or two is just about getting to know the people, what works and what doesn’t. It’s one thing to get news from afar, another thing entirely to immerse yourself in the team. In that sense, we’ll have a wait a while and see how things play out,” he explained.
“Talent in India is never an issue. In all areas of the game, India has a huge talent pool. It’s really about maximising talent, that’s what our job is as coaches. That will be my role as director of operations. If we get the right people in place, things will naturally fall into place. It’s about creating an environment where players can go and express themselves.”
RCB have had a horrid run over the last three seasons, failing to qualify for the playoffs on all three occasions. Hesson hoped to turn things around with Simon Katich, the newly named RCB head coach, on his side.
“The key fact in any new place is to immerse yourself entirely in the experience, rather than trying to impose your views and the way you work. You need to be doing the adapting. It’s not the other way around,” he said.
When asked how much of a role he had in Katich’s appointment, Hesson said: "He was on the radar for RCB for a while, and rightfully so because he’s very talented. He was part of our discussions too. I feel like RCB have gotten the right man for the job. We hope to put our best foot forward.”
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Shastri said that IPL has been an ideal preparatory ground for the Indian players, most of whom are regulars for their respective franchises.
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