Indian T20 league franchise the Punjab Kings have decided that they will not be renewing the contract of head coach Anil Kumble. Instead, they have begun their search for a replacement for next season with former England white ball captain the man in the frame for the job.
Morgan, the man who led England to World Cup success in 2019, announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket in June.
Who are the Punjab Kings?
The Kings are one of the founder members of the Indian T20 league, playing under the name Kings XI Punjab until this was changed for marketing reasons. They are jointly owned by the Bollywood actress Preity Zinta and businessmen Mohit Burman, Ness Wadia, and Karan Paul.
They have the unhappy distinction of being the least successful of the founding members. In 15 editions of the tournament to date, they have never won it.
The closest they came being in 2014 when they topped the regular season table, and finished runners-up in the final to the Kolkata Knight Riders.
That was the only the second time they even reached the play-offs.
Kumble enjoyed a spectacular career as a player. The off spinner appeared in 132 tests and 271 ODIs for India between 1000 and 2008, and stands as the fourth highest wicket taker in test cricket of all-time – behind Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, and Jimmy Anderson.
In 1999, he became only the second player in history – after Jim Laker of England back in 1956 – to take all 10 wickets in a test innings when he bowled out Pakistan in New Delhi.
He began his coaching career when the BCCI gave him an initial short-term contract with the India national team, but resigned a year later citing irreconcilable differences with the then captain Virat Kohli.
He was appointed by the Punjab Kings in October 2019.
The Kings under his stewardship
The Kings did not do well under his stewardship, finishing in the bottom half of the table each time, although they at least consistent with three consecutive sixth placed finishes.
The 2022 result arguably was marginally better because there were 10 competing teams not eight as in previous years.
KL Rahul was the captain for the first two seasons when he was in charge before Rahul defected to newcomers Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), where he rediscovered his form and helped them reach the play-offs in their inaugural campaign.
Mayank Agarwal succeeded him as skipper, but that decision did not work out so well for either player or franchise. The burden of the job weighed on his shoulders so much that it affected his form with the bat to the extent that it cost him his place in the India side ahead of the home series with South Africa and he has not been called up since.
Any hopes he had of appearing for them in the T20I World Cup seem to have evaporated.
To his credit, though, Kumble did bring through some talented youngsters like Arshdeep Singh, Harpreet Barra, and Ravi Bishnoi during his stint of head coach, although Bishnoi has followed in the footsteps of Rahul and joined LSG subsequently.
Why make the change now?
Making the change now gives the franchise time to have a new man in place well before the 2023 IPL player auction, which allows him to put his stamp on the side from the outset.
For example, it has been suggested that Agarwal could be relieved of captaincy duties ahead of the next campaign.
Appointing Morgan comes with its fair share of risks. After all, he has never coached before and is currently captaining in The Hundred for London Spirit.
However, he is vastly experienced in white ball cricket, is a proven winner, and knows what it is like to win at the highest level.
He also knows the Indian T20 league, having played previously for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), and the Sunrisers Hyderabad, before having a stint playing for the Kings himself.
In 2020, he returned to KKR and took over as captain mid-season when Dinesh Karthik relinquished the job. The following year he led them to the final where they were beaten by Chennai Super Kings.
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