Former South Africa batsman and India coach Gary Kirsten is likely to return to the IPL in a coaching role at Royal Challengers Bangalore. Although the franchise has not yet made the news public, Kirsten will handle the coaching responsibilities although a defined role is yet to be established. Daniel Vettori, who has been head coach in the past, will remain part of the management group.
Kirsten’s first coaching stint in the IPL lasted all of two years, ending after Delhi Daredevils removed him as their head coach in 2015. Kirsten had signed a three-year contract with Daredevils in 2014, but the franchise ended terms with him following two seasons in which they finished eighth and seventh on the points table. Numbers-wise, Kirsten’s IPL coaching record was far from flattering: Daredevils won only seven out of 28 matches, with 20 defeats across the two seasons.
Despite suffering that dent on his CV, Kirsten has managed to stay afloat. This week he makes his debut in the Big Bash League as the coach of Hobart Hurricanes. Kirsten was shortlisted for the job by the former Tasmanian and Australian pair of Ricky Ponting and David Boon, as the Hurricanes needed a replacement for Damien Wright, who had parted ways with the team after a second-from-bottom finish in the 2016-17 BBL.
Despite his struggles in the T20 format, Kirsten’s reputation as a coach remains strong. He is one of the few coaches to have taken two teams to the top of the ICC Test ranking – India in 2009 and South Africa in 2012.
Vettori took over as Royal Challengers’ head coach before the 2014 IPL, which the team finished in seventh place. In 2015 they finished third in the league stage and lost the second Qualifier to Chennai Super Kings. The next year, led by Virat Kohli, Royal Challengers marched into the final with phenomenal performances in the league stage but they ended runners-up to Sunrisers Hyderabad. This was followed by a poor 2017 season, which they ended at the bottom of the table with only three wins from 14 matches, with Kohli sitting out the initial part of the season to recuperate from a shoulder injury.
Along with Kohli, Royal Challengers are expected to retain South Africa batsman AB de Villiers and could be tempted to use the right-to-match card for India legspinner Yuzuvendra Chahal and possibly the West Indies batsman Chris Gayle.