Vettori: 'Brendon is going to be a confidant to Virat'

Royal Challengers Bangalore coach Daniel Vettori is confident the the team has put its disastrous 2017 season behind it.

Daniel Vettori and Virat Kohli in Bengaluru on Sunday.   -  Sampath Kumar G. P.

In the aftermath of the 2015 World Cup final, Australia’s wicket-keeper Brad Haddin was asked why he had given some of the New Zealand batsmen an angry mouthful as they walked off. He was uncomfortable, Haddin stated, with how nice the Kiwis had been during their group-stage game, with their steadfast refusal to sledge rivals.

While the rest of the world expressed its disapproval, Darren Lehmann’s Australia celebrated in boisterous fashion in Melbourne.

Last week, as he announced his decision to step down, a teary-eyed Lehmann felt his team ought to learn from New Zealand’s cricketers.

Daniel Vettori, now coach of RCB in the IPL, played in that final at the MCG. Three years later, does he feel Lehmann’s statement is a vindication of the way he and his New Zealand side played their cricket? “All teams evolve and they find out their right personality, and it took New Zealand teams a long time to work out what really worked for us,” he says. “Luckily we had leaders like Brendon (McCullum) and now Kane (Williamson) – that really suits their style. It was, hopefully, natural to us but it took a long time to learn.”

Cricket has to learn from the ball-tampering scandal, feels Vettori. “The key thing is how we deal with it in the future. It has obviously been a harsh, tough stance but that's reality and people have to deal with it. People have to know that those could be the punishments in the future as well,” he says.

Brendon McCullum, his one-time captain and the man who led New Zealand to that final in 2015, is now at RCB. “We were really desperate to have those leaders within the group because we probably had just AB and Virat last year,” says Vettori. “He's going to be a confidant to Virat, because of his leadership skills. He brings a style of play we really want at RCB. He's a great fielder too. Now we've added a few more leaders – Brendon, Parthiv Patel, and Quinton de Kock, who we think is a leader as well.”

The RCB side that emerged from the 2018 auction has the look of a balanced outfit, perhaps the most well-rounded the team has been in a long time. “There was a considered effort to assemble a strong group of domestic bowlers,” says Vettori. “We'd seen enough of Washington Sundar (to expect the performance he delivered in Sri Lanka). He’s bowled in the Powerplay pretty much his whole T20 career. We'll look to utilise that as well.”

One player who will not be part of RCB any longer is Chris Gayle, who spent seven memorable years with the franchise. “You look at all our batting records; Chris dominates them all. So we know how important a part of our franchise he was,” says Vettori. “It’s just that in the new auction, the team decided to go a different way. He will always be an RCB player in our minds and for the people of Bangalore.”

Vettori is confident RCB has put its disastrous 2017 season behind it. “We had a lot of injuries and we had a wicket that we didn’t adapt to,” he says. “The wicket was very different to what we were used to and what we had built the squad around. The pitch seems to have improved this season. The guys trained on one of the main wickets yesterday and they were really happy with it. Touch-wood, it will be like the Chinnaswamy of old.”

Captain Virat Kohli is fresh from a six-week-long break from international cricket, and Vettori is pleased with what he sees. “He was resting from games, but not from his training or his fitness regime,” he says. “You can tell he's worked really hard on all of that. He's had a chance to step away from the pressure of playing for India. He's desperate to do well all the time, and generally that's for his country. Brendon already talks about being inspired by how hard he works. It's a real example to everyone.”