Two-time Indian Premier League champions, Kolkata Knight Riders, have always been a team that gives their support staff and players ample time to get settled in and perform to their best ability.
The current coach of the KKR franchise is their one-time opening batsman, Brendon McCullum. The Kiwi was appointed head coach in 2019 after the KKR dispensation decided to part ways with their outgoing coach, Jacques Kallis. McCullum has been KKR coach since 2020.
Head Coach Brendon McCullum
Kallis, too, like McCullum, was a one-time KKR player, and in fact, both the former international stars won the title with the team in 2012. McCullum’s appointment as the head coach wasn’t a surprise to those who follow the game. The former New Zealand opener was already a part of the coaching set-up at Trinbago Knight Riders, another franchise owned by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, which plays in the Caribbean Premier League.
McCullum has played for several franchises in the IPL, including Royal Challengers Bangalore, Gujarat Lions, Chennai Super Kings, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and KKR. While Kolkata did not have the best of starts to IPL 2021, they will be hoping to make amends when the tournament begins again in September.
McCullum’s Previous Stint Coaching A Side
In fact, McCullum had a proverbially perfect start at Trinbago Knight Riders. Under his mentorship, the team won the CPL title in 2020, going undefeated the entire stretch of the tournament. Upon signing for KKR, the dashing right-hander, who had lit the IPL on fire in its opening match by scoring an unbeaten 158, said: “It’s a great honour to take on this responsibility. We have fantastic squads in both KKR & TKR, and I, along with the support staff, will be looking to build on the success both franchises have enjoyed.”
Teaming Up With Eoin Morgan
McCullum soon tied up with long-time protégé and friend, Eoin Morgan, at the 2020 player auction, and it looks to be soon now whether the duo can provide the success that the team has been chasing since 2014 when they last won the tournament. Morgan, who claims to be inspired by McCullum’s captaincy, led his English squad to world cup glory in 2019 when England defeated New Zealand in a pulsating final at Lords in southwest London.
The Support Staff
While Kolkata Knight Riders do not have a specific batting coach, one can assume Brendon McCullum would be helping out KKR batters in the nets. Besides him, former Australian all-rounder David Hussey, once a KKR player himself, is the team’s mentor. Former Indian batsman, Abhishek Nayar, is also part of the KKR set-up as an assistant coach.
KKR’s bowling coach, meanwhile, is another New Zealander, Kyle Mills. Though Mills himself never played a single IPL match, he has represented his national side in 19 Test matches, 170 ODIs and 42 T20 internationals.
Mills is also assisted by former Rajasthan Royals spinner Praveen Tambe, the spin bowling coach for KKR.
Englishman James Foster is KKR’s fielding coach. Foster has represented England in seven Test matches, five T20Is and 11 ODI matches, with his last outing for the national side being in the 2009 ICC T20 World Cup.
The other support staff includes Omkar Salvi, who is the assistant bowling coach, Wayne Bentley as the Team Manager, Kamlesh Jain as the physiotherapist, Chris Donaldson as the strength and conditioning coach, AR Srikkanth as the data and video analyst and Nathan Leamon, who works as a strategic consultant.
Going Back In Time
It’s not easy being the coach of an IPL franchise, let alone being the coach of Kolkata Knight Riders, a team that is passionate about the game and a team whose fans want nothing but victory at all costs. People of Kolkata are passionate about sports and follow each game religiously.
KKR, in the past, has had some big names in its coaching setup. And while some have delivered, a few high-profile names have failed to give the team the success it cherishes.
For the opening two editions of the IPL, KKR had appointed Aussie John Buchanan as the head coach. While he wasn’t successful in providing KKR with the same success that his Australian national side had achieved in the early 2000s, Buchanan became famous for more than one reason at KKR.
In 2009, when IPL had moved to South Africa, Buchanan suggested having “multiple captains” for KKR. The proposal did not go down well with the then captain, Sourav Ganguly, who, after a season of not captaining the team, came back to captain in 2010, but only after Buchanan had been ousted as the coach.
Next came Dav Whatmore, who had achieved success while coaching the national teams of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Whatmore remained coach for only a couple of years, during which KKR managed to reach the knock-out stages of the IPL for the first time in 2011.
Trevor Bayliss was KKR’s most successful coach, winning the tournament twice — in 2012 and 2014 — under Gautam Gambhir’s captaincy. Bayliss, a legend in the world of coaching, has achieved numerous successes in the past. He has been the coach of a variety of teams and has often delivered results.
In the past, Bayliss had coached New South Wales, Sri Lanka, Sydney Sixers, the England national side, which won the 2019 World Cup when he was with the team and finally with Sun Risers Hyderabad, where he was appointed as head coach before the 2020 season.
Jacques Kallis, a KKR legend in his own right, coached the team after Bayliss left to take up international duties. In his first season as the team’s batting consultant in 2015, Kallis integrated with the squad well and was made head coach later in 2016.
An orthodox batsman and an even successful bowler, Kallis had a somewhat mediocre stint with KKR. He coached for four years, with the team reaching the knock-out stages twice during his tenure.
What The Future Holds For the KKR Coach
After Jacques Kallis’s exit, it has since been the Brendon McCullum – Eoin Morgan show at KKR, and we wait and watch what the two modern-day greats help Kolkata Knight Riders achieve in terms of success.
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