Brendon McCullum became an “automatic choice” to coach Kolkata Knight Riders once he hung up his boots as a freelance cricketer. On Thursday KKR appointed McCullum as their head coach, with the franchise looking for “fresh ideas” this time around. McCullum will take over from Jacques Kallis, who parted company by mutual consent after this year’s IPL.
“This time around we wanted a different profile, someone who brings fresh ideas and new energy. We are the youngest side in the IPL. We wanted someone who has proven leadership skills, able to work with young players and manage diversity. Once McCullum retired as a cricketer, he became an automatic choice. He was very keen (as well),” KKR CEO Venky Mysore said, speaking to The Indian Express. “Being a marquee franchise, several candidates had expressed their interest for the KKR coaching role,” he added.
McCullum’s IPL career started with a 73-ball 158 blitz for KKR against Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2008. He had been part of the franchise as a player for five years. The 37-year-old returns to his old franchise in a different capacity, without any previous coaching experience to speak of.
“If you look at the IPL history, there are several coaches who directly made the switch from playing to coaching, without any previous coaching experience. So that’s not a concern at all. At this level, coaching is about man-management. You need someone who brings strong leadership, who has credibility and a proven track record as a player, particularly in this format. McCullum has always been a leader whom teams and players have looked up to. He cares for the Knight Riders franchise,” Mysore said, adding: “As New Zealand captain, McCullum revolutionised their cricket, especially white-ball cricket.”
McCullum’s predecessor, Kallis had been KKR’s head coach for four seasons and guided the team to Playoffs three times on the spin. This year, though, the franchise had a below-par outing, as they finished fifth. Before that, Trevor Bayliss had four seasons with KKR as their head coach, winning the title twice. Do coaches have a shelf life?
“I don’t think coaches have a shelf life as long as they can reinvent themselves. The game is constantly changing and therefore to be a successful coach for a longer period you have to reinvent. The appointment of a coach to a large extent depends on the profile of the team. It’s important to match the profile and be in sync,” Mysore observed.
McCullum, meanwhile, will also be the head coach of Trinbago Knight Riders – same owners – in the Caribbean Premier League. “It’s a great honour to take on this responsibility. The Knight Riders franchises in IPL and CPL have become iconic and have set the standard in franchise cricket. We have fantastic squads in both KKR and TKR and I along with the support staff will be looking to build on the successes both franchises have enjoyed,” the former ‘keeper-batsman said.