Bevan: ‘It’s always enjoyable coaching in India’

"T20 has changed the nature of how players play the game. It has increased the number of people who watch the game. It’s a good thing. Inherently, there’s nothing bad about the format. If it’s managed well, it will provide the players with extra incentive, extra opportunities to get selected to the next level," says the former Australian cricketer, Michael Bevan.

Former Australian cricketer Michael Bevan with his wife during the launch of the Tamil Nadu Premier League in Chennai on August 18, 2016.   -  R. Ragu

One of the best finishers in limited-overs cricket, Michael Bevan took up coaching after his retirement. After his stints with the Chennai Superstars franchise in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League and Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League, Bevan has returned to the sub-continent to coach the Madurai Super Giants (MSG) squad in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, slated to begin on August 24.

Bevan spoke to the media today after a practice session with the MSG side.

Excerpts:

Question: How did you accept the offer to coach a TNPL side?

Answer: I didn’t play hard to get. I had the opportunity to come here; I had the time. I had been coaching part-time in Sydney. I hadn’t coached in India in a couple of years. And it’s always enjoyable coaching in India. There’s not enough money involved in the TNPL as compared to the IPL.

What made you accept this offer?

When I consider a coaching job, it provides opportunity, it provides challenge. When you’re a coach, money’s not always the deal. You try and enjoy what you do. For me coaching is about getting the outcomes, trying to improve players. It’s always rewarding too. The times I’ve coached in India, the majority of the players are extremely committed.

How will the TNPL help Indian cricket?

T20 has changed the nature of how players play the game. It has increased the number of people who watch the game. It’s a good thing. Inherently, there’s nothing bad about the format. If it’s managed well, it will provide the players with extra incentive, extra opportunities to get selected to the next level. Hopefully (in this league) a lot of players will come across some good captains and good coaches as they wouldn’t come across in the normal circumstances. So, that could be beneficial.

Will you be grooming a finisher in the Madurai squad?

I’ll be grooming all the players in the squad. It’ll take a majority of the squad to get a good result in this tournament. Finishing is just a part of the game. I’ll have to help players perform their roles; not just the finisher.

With mushrooming of new leagues, do you see players opting for T20 leagues over international cricket in the future?

Well, it depends on how much control the administrators want to have over that aspect. We are already seeing the trend with some of the West Indies cricketers. So, it has already started and will probably increase unless it’s controlled by the governing bodies of cricket, which they probably will do unless it becomes more business-oriented.

Can you tell us how different are the domestic players in India compared with those elsewhere?

I think the talent pool here is huge considering there are so many more people. They are supremely talented and work hard but as they evolve, their learning is not quite advanced.

 

From what I have seen, they love to practise and sometimes you have to turn their attention to quality practice rather than quantity. It used to happen when I played too, when we just went through the motions. It is important to get them to refocus on what will actually help them.

As someone who averages more than 50 in ODIs, can you explain the mindset with which you played?

I didn’t understand my mindset while playing well. I didn’t understand why I did well or did not do well. Once I turned coach, I tried to understand why I did well so that I could impart the knowledge.

The things I was perhaps good at was making the right decisions at the right time and I am trying to help players to do the same thing in their own way.

Do cricketers handle nerves better now that they play a lot of T20 cricket?

I am not sure. I think T20 is where ODI was in the late 1980s or 90s. When I played, South Africa was the first team to have a win ratio of 70 or 80 per cent and other teams were working out how to play the game and figuring out the right players to select.

Nowadays the people I speak to about T20 say, at times there is some luck or a lot of things can go wrong. At some stage, there will be teams, players or coaches who will crack the formula and they will understand the exact way to play it. So I guess those teams and players will put less pressure on themselves.

Who is the best finisher in today’s cricket?

You have one of the best finishers of all time in Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But he is incredible not just as a finisher but as a player, and has achieved a lot for India. Someone like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are redefining it. They start and stay until the end. Their performances at the moment are pretty phenomenal.

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