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Rajasthan Royals Coach McDonald All For Strengthening Bowling in IPL Auction

Andrew McDonald is living a dream at the moment. At 38, he has become one of the more respected coaches around the world. Recently he was named Australia’s assistant coach under Justin Langer, and was also appointed as the head coach of Rajasthan Royals.

Cricketnext Staff |November 29, 2019, 2:08 PM IST
Rajasthan Royals Coach McDonald All For Strengthening Bowling in IPL Auction

Andrew McDonald is living a dream at the moment. At 38, he has become one of the more respected coaches around the world. Recently he was named Australia’s assistant coach under Justin Langer, and was also appointed as the head coach of Rajasthan Royals.

In a freewheeling chat with Firstpost, McDonald revealed what his plans for the team are, and how Rajasthan can lose their ‘underdog’ tag.

The very first task for McDonald starts at the auction, to build a team that can win him matches, especially at home, and he is fully aware of it.

“How do you improve a group when you come in? There were some fine margins in last season, its one game out from making the final four. And ultimately as a coach what you get judged on is between the losses and making the final. The key thing for me is improvement. How we prepare the players, how we make that as specific as possible with each individual, and how we go about getting a collective team performance and winning those key moments within games.

“Every coach talks about it, every player talks about it but ultimately if you can get a group that wins those key moments, inevitably you will find yourselves in the top 4. The first part of improvement comes through your playing list. If you can put a list together that can play the style of cricket you want to play, in particular at home. If you can bank a lot of wins at home, generally winning more than 50 percent of the games normally gets you in so the retention, trading and auction will be critical in improving the playing list,” McDonald said.

McDonald is of the belief that it is the bowling that could be the game changer for Rajasthan, and would look to strengthen that aspect in the coming auctions in December.

"One of my key philosophies as a coach in particular in T20 cricket is having the bowling strength. I say the game is 240 balls of problems and the 120 with the ball you can actually control a little bit more. The other 120 you face with the bat is more a reaction to what's coming forward, so it's quite instinctive batting.

“The controllable for us are those 120 balls while bowling and that's something we would look to strengthen. If we could defend those 120 balls, it gives us a chance to score more than our opposition. I know that sounds really simple but it's a philosophy I've adopted across the teams I have been part of.”

(Twitter) (Twitter)

Although McDonald is unperturbed by the underdog tag that has stuck with the franchise ever since the first season, he believes that getting rid of it will be a gradual process, and Rajasthan will have to win a lot more matches for that.

“When you start to get that favourites tag, it means you are being consistent for a period of time. Rajasthan have made it to the playoffs four, so there's probably a lack of consistency from year to year.

“Therefore the underdogs tag is going to stick. I would like to envisage in three year's time that people aren't talking about us as an underdog, they are speaking about us as a consistent team that's improved year on year and there is a way and style of cricket they play that will put them in top 4 at the end of the season. That's how you shake the underdogs tag,” he added.

Also with Ajinkya Rahane gone, there was no doubt that Steve Smith was the first choice for the skipper. In fact the latter took over the reigns of the team when Rahane was and Rajasthan were struggling. “There are always discussions around that but we felt that Steve Smith was the logical choice to lead this group going forward. He will be ably assisted by some high-quality people in and around him as well, we've got the likes of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes who've held vice-captaincy posts in international cricket and there are some very good Indian local cricket minds as well, so he will be ably supported within that role.

“Smith's got a very good strategic mind, understands the ebbs and flows of T20 cricket. In particular, has a great understanding of the majority of the current playing list having had some experience at the back end of last year's IPL.”

In the past, McDonald has managed to change the fortunes of many teams and wishes to do the same with Rajasthan. And it doesn’t come as a surprise that the coach has a lot of clarity in what changes he needs to bring in to be successful.

“Clarity in direction is what is needed. Knowing where you want to end up. And then building how you want to get there, through your preparation, planning and playing personnel. A clear understanding of how you are going to win things. And then building back from there, step by step.

“A lot of teams take a bit of time to get to where you want to. Renegades were a struggling team, people unfold theses 3-5 year plans and things like that. I think just improvement year to year will see you get to where you want to. It's not linear.”

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2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 England 4366 104
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 Australia 3672 102
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10071 258
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