back icon


Mike Hesson: Experiment gone wrong?

Last updated on 04 Aug 2023 | 10:13 AM
Google News IconFollow Us
Mike Hesson: Experiment gone wrong?

RCB decided to let go off their director of cricket operations along with Sanjay Bangar, ahead of IPL 2024

The latest news in IPL comes from the Royal Challengers Bangalore camp. The franchise has announced the signing of Andy Flower as their head coach ahead of the upcoming season. 

The update comes after two other recent announcements a couple of weeks ago. Lucknow Super Giants first announced the signing of Justin Langer as Andy Flower’s replacement before news reports emerged that RCB might not renew Mike Hesson and Sanjay Bangar’s contracts. 

While the latter hadn’t done anything to warrant an extension, the former’s ousting has understandably received divided opinions over social media. Hesson joined the franchise as its director of cricket operations in 2019 after a string of poor performances in the previous few seasons. 

So, was the management’s decision to let go of the former Kiwi coach completely justified? Let’s look at some numbers before we decide to flash our opinions. 

Let’s start from the basics. 

RCB began winning a lot more under Hesson than they did before. The three playoff finishes notwithstanding, they also were the most successful team (no. of wins) during his stint with Bangalore.

To be able to win more frequently than anyone else, including serial title winners like Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, is no small feat. That all it took was one bad season for him to be shown the door is a reflection of how cut-throat IPL is. 

There’s no denying that RCB’s performances saw a marked improvement under him, but a common pattern seemed to have emerged with RCB under Hesson. They would start every season strongly but would then taper off during the fag end of the tournament. This came back to bite them in each of their knockout games, as a lack of form led to losses in three of the four playoffs. 

Another key feature of Hesson management had been the consistency in squad selection - a concept that was lost on RCB fans. Having seen too many changes and an emphasis on results over processes, it was a welcome change in plans for the then Virat Kohli-led franchise.

From using 32 players in the two seasons preceding Hesson’s arrival to using 24 players in his last two seasons, RCB seemed to have come a long way in this regard as well. To put things further in perspective, every player who’s donned the RCB jersey since IPL 2022 has played at least three T20s for them. On the other hand, there were six instances of a player just playing a solitary game for them in IPL 2018 and IPL 2019. 

Not to forget, the think-tank he built also set up a scouting program to find and groom talents for the future. They have done no harm to their credibility there as well, having seen the likes of Devdutt Padikkal, Rajat Patidar, and Shahbaz Ahmad make it to the Indian team in just three years. 

An increased focus on effective domestic options over known international superstars - something RCB had always been known for - saw the likes of Dinesh Karthik, Harshal Patel, and Mohammed Siraj rise up the ranks for RCB and India. It also helped that the data-driven think-tank also believed in role clarity. Be it DK’s entry points or Harshal’s usage in the final overs, RCB getting them right went a long way in their success.

Of course, it would be foolish to think that the former Kiwi coach got everything right. Among other things, the move to prioritize experience over youth has meant that RCB is now left with an aging squad. Andy Flower will have his work cut out for him as he tries and solves this during the upcoming auction. 

And lastly, Hesson’s biggest challenge was RCB’s home ground, the Chinaswamy stadium. Not being able to win enough home games was a big reason behind RCB not making it to the playoffs for the first time in four years. 

Sure, RCB continues to remain winless despite Hesson’s best efforts across the four seasons. But, to call it anything less than successful would be a bit harsh on the Kiwi. Bangalore fans can only hope that Andy Flower’s arrival helps them scream #EeSalaCupNamde

Related Article