IPL 2023: Future tense for head coach Ponting; What about Lara?

The buzz in the IPL circles is that Ricky Ponting — the chief coach under whom the rebranded Capitals had turned a new leaf over the last four seasons — may not be a part of their plans

Ricky Ponting (left); Brian Lara (right) (Photo: Getty Images)
Ricky Ponting (left); Brian Lara (right) (Photo: Getty Images)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The scenic beauty of Dharamsala may have brought about a change in the fortunes of the Delhi Capitals on Wednesday night, though it’s too little, too late in the overall context of their IPL 2023 campaign. The franchise, according to their stand-in captain David Warner, has also begun planning for the next season.

The buzz in the IPL circles, however, is that Ricky Ponting — the chief coach under whom the rebranded Capitals had turned a new leaf over the last four seasons — may not be a part of their plans. It will also be interesting to see what fate awaits Brian Lara, the other master, under whom Sunrisers Hyderabad may eventually finish as wooden spooners.

This brings us to the critical question of whether the presence of heavyweight names in the dugout can necessarily ensure good results in a tournament like the IPL. It’s par for the course that a failed coach has no place in modern sport, but it’s also about a combination of factors — it goes right from the auction table to players’ form as well as building the right ecosystem that goes behind the performance graph of a team.

The presence of a top-heavy dugout at the Capitals had become quite an embarrassment especially after nothing seemed to go right for them at the beginning of this season. Here goes a list of the names apart from Ponting and Director of Cricket Sourav Ganguly: James Hope, Shane Watson & Ajit Agarkar (assistant coaches), Pravin Amre (batting coach) and Biju George (fielding coach).

There are no prizes for guessing that the dugout may wear a thinner look next year — but what was certainly not in good taste was that of TV pundit Irfan Pathan suggesting on record that Ganguly would be best-suited to replace Ponting for the job. Such guesswork, one thought, was the prerogative of the media rather than a former Indian allrounder — that too with the season still on and the team having a game to play.

It had also been smooth going for Lara, who was appointed as the chief coach of the Orange Army after playing the role of a mentor last year. He, along with bowling coaches Dale Steyn and Muttiah Muralitharan, were easily the most decorated coaching staff this time around — something which has hardly reflected in the performance of the team.

The Caribbean genius, a temperamental personality in the best of times, did not mince words when after a batting meltdown against Kolkata Knight Riders, famously said his men had ‘lost the game’ rather than the opponents winning it.

It was a candid Lara who also said recently: ‘’It’s my first year (as head coach). (It was about) not getting to grips with the emotions of going through an IPL season, especially when we were back to travelling to different venues and finding out different surfaces. It’s a meticulous task to get things right continuously.

‘’And, the T20 version of the game is what a lot of people underrate. It’s a very tactical game,’’ the master observed.

Clearly, Lara is yet to find his moorings in the IPL set-up and wants time. A head coach is very much on the firing line, unlike some of the fancy positions, and one would not like to be in the shoes of a Ponting or Lara for now! 

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