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For me, there is no coaching manual: Ricky Ponting

Mumbai Indians IPL 9 Ricky Ponting
(Photo Source: Twitter)

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting is still young as a coach. The Australian batting legend is just into his second year but has already experienced tremendous success. He joined Mumbai Indians last season and guided the to a title win in his first year and is now busy plotting out strategies to help his team defend it.

Ponting, in a recent interview with Times of India spoke about his present role, the highs, and lows that come with it, MI’s stint so far and more.

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As far as the coaching experience goes, I guess I am a very young coach. Until last year, I had no experience of being a head coach of any team. I’m absolutely loving it,” says Ponting with a smile.

Mumbai Indian traditionally have been a slow starter. Their campaign has usually begun bit rustily but picks up as the days pass by. But, unlike the previous seasons, MI got off to a better start this time. Ponting, however, states that the start was not according to their hopes.

“Yes, but still we didn’t really get off to the start that we were hoping for, ” he says. “In a tournament like this, you don’t want to leave yourself with too much of work to do in the back-half of the tournament. With Malinga ruled out, and then Lendl Simmons, we were looking for combinations that would work for us and it took us three or four games to figure that out. We’ve played pretty consistently as well in the recent matches. I’ve got great confidence in this team and I really believe we can finish well.”

The MI side doesn’t see many changes a happening in the team combination. Ponting states why he believes in maintain a consistency I team line-up.

I believe in backing players and showing faith in a group that I could believe in. At the start of the tournament, what you try and do is try and pick your best eleven. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but the fact is that the most consistent cricket we’ve played in the tournament so far is with a tightly-knit group of eleven players and – in the last four or five games – it’s given us results”.

As a player, one can go out there and get things done himself but a coach has to stay out of the boundary and hope for the best to happen. It’s the hard part and Ponting to agrees with it.

“When I was a player or captain, I always knew there was something I could do to change the course of the game – whether it was taking a catch or effecting a run-out or playing an innings as a batsman.”

“But now, all you can do is hope that whatever planning or strategising has gone into the game while preparing for it, the guys on the field execute it and pull off a victory.”

This IPL has witnessed a trend of teams chasing successfully. With 27 out of the 38 league matches been won by teams batting second, the chasing record this season are outstanding. The effect has been such that skippers opt to chase without any second thought (irrespective of the conditions) Speaking about the newest trend, Ponting says, ” You can attribute it to better pitches. If you look through the course of this IPL, there haven’t been any big turning pitches that have made it really hard to chase runs. I think it’s a trend that has been seen in 50-over cricket as well.

“If you go back five or six years ago, in 50-over cricket, teams wanted to bat first all the time and post healthy totals, but as skills got better, teams wanted to chase totals on good wickets and that seemed easier. It’s that phase in T20 right now, where there’s no fear in chasing any totals. In fact, if you see now, teams are picking line-ups with the sole idea of looking to chase.”

Ponting also states that coaching duty for him is more about gut feeling than going by the coaching manual.

No, I don’t. It’s all about gut feel. I have a good understanding of the game and what we need at different times. Little things that we’ve done in this tournament, like having Mitchell McClenaghan to bat at No.4 in the second game at Kolkata. That was just to go out and change the momentum against the spinners. Even Krunal Pandya has been moved up the order at times for the same reason. For me, there is no coaching manual.

Ponting also lauded Rohit Sharma’s captaincy.

“How many captains have won two titles in the IPL? MS? Gautam … and? So, he must be doing something right. You probably know how he is, a shy, reserved sort of a guy. And when he’s on the field, he’s another beast altogether – animated, loud, getting things done.”

“(In) A format like this, one needs a strong leader because quick, strong decisions have to be taken constantly and Rohit is a great choice for us. Tactically how a captain makes a difference matters a lot and all I could say is that Rohit is very much in tune with that.”

Also, Read – Bangladeshi speed star Mustafizur Rahman in demand for the BBL

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