Bangalore: After finishing near the bottom of the Indian Premier League (IPL) table in the first season, Royal Challengers Bangalore rose to the second spot last year, when the annual Twenty20 cricket tournament was hosted in South Africa. Coach Ray Jennings discusses the team’s prospects and challenges. Edited excerpts:
How do you view the forthcoming season, given that IPL was hosted outside the country last year and will have two more teams from the next season?
Focused approach: Ray Jennings of Royal Challengers Bangalore.
I haven’t really thought about season 4, as all my attention and energy is only focused on the challenges that lie ahead this year. It’s great to be back in India, as this is the tournament’s rightful home, and everyone at the Royal Challengers is geared for a big season as we look to build on our success from last year.
How do teams view the prospect of playing against two new franchises from the next season?
It’s something that we will look into next season, as there is still (a) lot to achieve this year, without worrying too much about what lies ahead.
With the IPL juggling venues between cities, how difficult is it for teams to build brand loyalty among fans?
Scheduling is something that rests with the IPL organizers, and I am not prepared to comment on any of these decisions. The IPL was a resounding success last season in South Africa, and I am sure the new venues this year will help build a fan base and interest.
Players may come up for auction next season. What are your strategies to keep the formation consistent for subsequent seasons? Or will teams have to be completely rebuilt?
This is something that the Royal Challengers executive management team will look into at the end of this year’s tournament. But like I said, I am not prepared to comment on anything at this stage.
What does India’s emergence as the top-ranked Test cricket team mean for IPL’s popularity?
India have played phenomenal Test cricket of late and thoroughly deserve their No. 1 ranking. The IPL is a different competition altogether, and its popularity is growing from season to season.
Your team has seen some captaincy changes in the last two seasons. Has it now settled down to a regular formation?
Anil Kumble did a fantastic job as captain last year, when he took over from Kevin Pietersen, and his leadership played an integral role in our passage to the final. Kevin will be back with us this season and is one of our most important players. I am sure he will enjoy playing under Kumble’s captaincy this season, and the rest of the team is responding well to Anil as a leader and mentor as well.
This is the sixth in a series of interviews of IPL team owners and executives. On Thursday: Jay Mehta, co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders.