The Indian Premier League 2020 is all set to take place in the United Arab Emirates from September 19. Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum recently spoke to the club's official website about working with skipper Dinesh Karthik, having England World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan in the squad and why Shubman Gill would be a part of the leadership core. Excerpts:
When did the idea of coaching come to you? Was it always in your list of post-retirement plans?
McCullum: Well, post-retirement from cricket I loved doing commentary. I enjoy analysing and having an opinion and honestly, I have been able to see a lot of things differently from the point of view of a commentator. But I also always wanted to be involved in the game from a coaching capacity. That’s mainly because I like helping people. It's what I loved as a captain, to try and get my teammates’ last bit of talent out of themselves and to also free their mind from a performance point of view. There's so much pressure involved in this game, and when you're in a coaching position or a captain, if you are able to show your loyalty to your players, then the loyalty comes back in spades through the performance of guys on the field.
I’m really looking forward to working with DK in particular. We get on, really really well. We are quite different in personalities but we share some common thoughts too and we share a common passion for the game and for people. I guess time will tell, but that's kind of the goal and hopefully we've given you a bit of an insight into how the inner workings of KKR will operate this year.
What is it about Dinesh Karthik that really stands out for you?
McCullum: Well, quite a few things. You've got to break DK down a little bit into different parts to understand this. I think first and foremost, wicketkeeping. He's up there with the very best wicket keepers in India. Then you move on to his batting and he's as good and as adaptable in any role. He doesn't come with perhaps, the stardom that some guys do and that's just DK’s personality. But he's a big star within the KKR franchise, he’s now been at the helm for a couple of years and he's had some success.
The team hasn't quite got over the line, but I think DK is in that stage in his leadership where he's almost ready to really mature and to really take ownership of the Knight Riders set up and back his judgement. What we tried to do throughout the auction process as well was to provide him with some strong leadership on the field. We've obviously already got the likes of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, but to have added Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan in particular to that leadership group, and also provide him behind the scenes with some support staff who will be able to assist DK as well.
I think there'll be a nice layer of leadership around DK where he's able to really prosper and touch all of the members of the Kolkata line up to try and get the very best out of themselves. I love DK as a person. He's quite intense at times which I love, we just need to provide him with some support. His passion for the game and his love of people is just infectious.
Tell us about Eoin Morgan, another strong individual in the KKR leadership group this year.
McCullum: Some years back (2012), we played with each other at KKR and that relationship and that friendship really took off right from the word go. We like the same sorts of things - we enjoy playing golf, we enjoy horse racing...
I think we're very similar kinds of people to be honest. We love the game, and we play it for the camaraderie, the friendships, the experiences that it gives you for the rest of your life. We don't necessarily play it just for that moment. Eoin has been nothing short of inspirational in what he's been able to achieve in the last four-four and a half years with England.
Let's not forget, he's an Irishmen. And for an Irishmen to have left home at the age that he did, to have taken the plunge and said ‘I want to go and further my career and make a real fist of this’ to now becoming the England captain, and a world cup winning captain at that - just phenomenal.
I think he's the perfect foil for DK as a vice-captain. It's a match made in heaven in regards to an IPL franchise. You've got that overseas experience and leadership and you've got the local leader. I think it's a really nice mix.
Is there any other player you are specifically looking forward to this season?
Shubman Gill. What a talent, and what a good guy as well. He is going to be a part of our leadership group this year as well, at least in some capacity. Even though he is young, I am a big believer that it’s not necessarily true that you having played for a long time makes you a good leader.
It’s about you exhibiting the behaviours of a leader. It's always good to have a cross-section of leadership within your group. To us, Shubman is one of those guys we would look to lean on for some leadership throughout this season.