Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) head coach Brendon McCullum wants to delegate some “leadership responsibility” to young Shubman Gill during the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE.
During last season, Shubman batted way lower down the order which got the franchise lot of flak.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ star all-rounder Andre Russell had openly blamed some of “bad decisions” for their string of losses last season as the two-time champions missed out on a play-off berth despite four wins from the first five matches (including a tie that Delhi Capitals won in Super-Over).
“What a talent, and what a good guy as well. He is going to be a part of our leadership group this year as well, at least in some capacity,” the former Kiwi skipper said of Gill in an interview in KKR website.
“Even though he is young, I am a big believer that it’s not necessarily true that you having played for a long time makes you a good leader,” the former Black Caps skipper said.
Apart from the star Windies all-rounder, the 20-year-old Gill played some responsible knocks but his batting lower down the order hurt the team’s cause.
“It’s about you exhibiting the behaviours of a leader. It’s always good to have a cross-section of leadership within your group. To us, Shubman is one of those guys we would look to lean on for some leadership throughout this season,” McCullum said.
Dinesh Karthik took over the captaincy from their most successful skipper Gautam Gambhir in 2018 when they made the play-off for the last time.
Backing Karthik as the one of the best wicketkeepers of India, McCullum said: “You’ve got to break DK down a little bit into different parts to understand this. I think first and foremost, wicketkeeping. He’s up there with the very best wicketkeepers in India.”
On Karthik’s batting, the New Zealand great said: “He’s as good and as adaptable in any role. He doesn’t come with perhaps, the stardom that some guys do and that’s just DK’s personality.
“But he’s a big star within the KKR franchise, he’s now been at the helm for a couple of years and he’s had some success.”
McCullum believs that Karthik has now matured as a leader.
“The team hasn’t quite got over the line, but I think DK is in that stage in his leadership where he’s almost ready to really mature and to really take ownership of the Knight Riders set up and back his judgement.”
With the addition of Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan to their leadership group, McCullum felt that Karthik would get some support to bring out his best.
“I think there’ll be a nice layer of leadership around DK where he’s able to really prosper and touch all of the members of the Kolkata line up to try and get the very best out of themselves.
“I love DK as a person. He’s quite intense at times which I love, we just need to provide him with some support. His passion for the game and his love of people is just infectious.”
KKR’s likely to be based in Abu Dhabi in the same hotel where they put up in 2014 when they last won the championship under Gambhir.
The Indian players meanwhile have assembled in Mumbai for a short camp before heading off to UAE likely on 20 August.