Former India skipper Anil Kumble has been appointed as the head coach of Kings XI Punjab for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
KXIP have also brought West Indies great Courtney Walsh on board as talent scount, pretty much like the long-time association former India coach John Wright has with Mumbai Indians.
Former India spinner Sunil Joshi and Kumble’s longtime national and state teammate will be the assistant coach of the Punjab franchise. South African great Jonty Rhodes is set to be the team’s fielding coach and former Australian captain George Bailey will coach the batsmen.
Spin legend Kumble has been put in charge of “all cricket-related affairs” of the team and will be making a presentation to the team management regarding his plans on October 19.
It has also been learnt that Kumble will also take a call on Ravichandran Ashwin’s future with the team on the same day. Ashwin, who captained the side in the past two seasons, is expected to be traded to Delhi Capitals ahead of the next season.
“Kumble will decide who all players will stay and who all will be released. Walsh will be scouting talent for the team in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy before the IPL and will also work with our pacers,” a KXIP source told PTI.
Kumble, who had a brief stint with the Indian men’s team as head coach between 2016 and 2017, is currently the only Indian coach in the IPL.
For the 48-year-old, KXIP will be the third IPL team that he will be involved with, having featured as a player and later captain with Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2008.
He had also joined Mumbai Indians in 2013 as a mentor before quitting in 2015. He then joined the Indian team as the chief coach but it ended acrimoniously in 2017 after his relationship with skipper Virat Kohli became “untenable”.
Kumble is the fifth coach to join the Punjab franchise in the last five editions. He will also have a high-profile support staff to work with. Walsh and Joshi were involved with the Bangladesh team till the World Cup while Bailey has captained KXIP.
Earlier, Sanjay Bangar (2014-2016), Virender Sehwag (2017), Brad Hodge (2018) and Mike Hesson (2019) had served as head coach of the team, which finished at the bottom in 2015 and 2016 before signing off in fifth, seventh and sixth place in the last three seasons.
KXIP had reached the semifinals in 2008 and finished second-best after losing in the final to Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2014 edition. With Kumble in their dugout, they will be hoping to win their maiden title in 2020.