Monty Desai - From coaching USA's South East region to coaching Rajasthan Royals
Monty Desai with RR Captain Shane Warne
Monty Desai, who until recently coached USA's South East region,
completed a stint with Rajasthan Royals in South Africa as part of its
elite coaching squad. His next assignment is in England as Rajasthan
gets ready to play against Middlesex. DreamCricket.com
caught up with him in Mumbai as he was taking a break after IPL 2.
DreamCricket: Congratulations Monty on completing your first
season with Rajasthan Royals. Can you share with our readers how a
coach from Atlanta ended up on the coaching staff of the prestigious
Monty: Thanks Venu. Like many who are passionate about this game, I
started this journey with a dream to become a cricketer and soon
realized that my fate was to become a cricket coach. I have been in
this field for the last 12 years, where I have coached with World Cricket Academy
since its founding under the guidance of late Shri Hanumant Singh. I came to Atlanta mainly for family reasons.
it seemed my coaching life was not going to be possible in Atlanta, but
here too I started coaching the regional team, thanks to AGCC
management for keeping faith in me. I was also able to set up a
coaching clinic for kids in Atlanta with support from a long list of
well-wishers from Atlanta.
Earlier this year, when we met in New
Jersey, I was on my way to Mumbai and I was still not sure what was in
store for me in India although I knew that with IPL, there would be
plenty of opportunities.
My name to Rajasthan Royals was
suggested by my close friends Zubin Barucha and Andy Flower and I am
grateful to both of them for believing in me.
My experience in development work and probably my philosophy
about 'mind and man management' impressed the Rajasthan Royals
management in my interview and I was taken on board.
DreamCricket: IPL is just once-a-year, so what did you do before the start of the season?
Rajasthan Royals is involved with a bit of talent scouting and we also
hold a few workshops through out the season in India. We also set up
the Professional Development Camp in February, where I was involved
with some serious work trying to identify fresh talent ready for IPL.
Best part about Rajasthan Royals is that they are willing to throw
fresh talent in such a high profile tournament.
DreamCricket: But many of these players were sent back?
Monty: All of them knew when we came to South Africa that the team will
be short listed to 20 players after the conditioning camp in CapeTown.
It was decision time and we had to take some tough decisions in South
Africa where we had to short list our team. Some teams like Kolkata had
to trim down even further.
This was tough, no doubt. I always believe in the phrase "there are no
rehearsals in real life only performances," in the team's interest,
sometimes you have face tough decisions as it comes. We had given
enough opportunities to everyone to show their skills in the warm up
matches before the start of the IPL. Some like Kamran Khan stayed back
and made it to the team, purely through their exceptional performances
through out the trials games, development camp and warm-up matches.
DreamCricket: How did the development work translate to a coaching role?
Monty Desai with Rajasthan Royals Management
Monty: To begin with, I was mainly appointed to work on the development
squad, at the same time I had few interactions with Darren Berry
personally and on emails to execute the team plans as explained by him.
By April, I was finally on board as a Coach on the Development Squad
with the first official full fledged tour IPL'09 for Rajasthan Royals.
All I can say I was lucky to be working with a very friendly coaching
team - Shane Warne, Darren Berry and Jeremy Snape. They were all very
open and receptive to suggestions and that helps as you feel that you
are welcomed as a part of the team. It was their decision to keep me on
for the whole tour so I continued giving my inputs and more importantly
learn from them.
DreamCricket: Tell me about the coaching staff. Normally, you see
a physio and a coach, perhaps an assistant coach. Rajasthan coaching
department had Darren Berry (Director of Coaching), Jeremy Snape (High
Performance coach), John Gloster (Physio), yourself and Satish Samant
as coaches. What was the role of each of of you?
Monty: Everybody had a role -
John is our Doctor, he along with his medical team were brilliant and
thoroughly professional in taking care of each and every player's
fitness. Sometimes they had to work long hours to treat injuries. John
is very creative in our warm ups and cool downs during practice
sessions and matches. Recovery sessions in cold swimming pools were
awesome - lots of fun.
Jeremy Snapes does lots of one-on-one work where he involved me and
Satish Samant as well. The aim was to keep players' confidence high.
Sometimes we all had long hrs at the nets as all our batsmen were
desperate to perform in the matches. He is the best at what he does,
his 3 seconds chill theory works for most of the players around the
world. Satish and I just added Indian expertise to it, specially for
overseas batsmen batting against spin.
Darren Berry likes to plan all the sessions well ahead and he
personally works a lot with wicket keepers. Darren is very passionate
and always busy thinking about strategies and discussing the same with
Warnie. He believes in lot of team building activities and he cares for
each and everyone associated with this team.
I personally like to observe a lot before making any judgments on
technical aspects, so when I worked on one-to-one it was all about
keeping it super simple. I always wanted to see if the players were
willing to push themselves out of their comfort zone. If not, then I
would slowly try to push them sometimes by being vocal but most of the
times by being quiet and patient. My coach Shri Hanumant Singh used to
always say "Try to read their mind and then try to convince them".
Between Darren, Jeremy, myself and Satish we shared the coaching work
load like fielding sessions, net sessions etc. It was a blend of
Australian, English and Indian coaching concepts and theories.
Finally Shane Warne executed lot of these plans and frequently produced his magic on the field.
DreamCricket: Rajasthan's campaign started off badly with a huge
loss and then a rain affected match. But after that, it was not too bad
- considering you did not have the services of the 2008 Purple Cap
winner Sohail Tanvir and 2008 Man of the Series Shane Watson.
Monty: Even after the tournament started with so many distractions, we
kept saying to all our players to stay on course, unfortunately I don't
think each and everyone of us committed to it 100%. If we had done that
we would have won it again because the team that comes together fastest
wins the championship and we just couldn't do it fast enough this year.
We kept saying to all the players and ourselves to either find a way or
make one! So it was not the absence of Sohail Tanvir or Shane Watson
alone that mattered.
DreamCricket: From a coaching and development perspective, the
absence of these two bowlers meant that you could try your new finds -
Kamran Khan and Amit Singh. That brings back to what you said earlier,
that Rajasthan Royals is willing to try its new talent - a very fair
Monty: Yes very fair and they stand by our decisions. Abhishek Raut who
won us one game against Deccan Chargers is another such name that we
can boast of. Of course, we wanted him to be more consistent but to be
fair he had no experience at this level. We missed out Dinesh Salunke
this year because of his injuries and he will be strong contender next
year. Don't be surprised if there are few more new names next year as
Rajasthan Royals is very different from other franchises for sure. We
are also thinking of talent scouting programs in USA.
DreamCricket: We should talk about your USA programs soon. Of
course, despite the absence of many players, the team still had some
solid victories. A lot of the outcomes were dependent on Graeme Smith,
Yusuf Pathan and Warnie himself. What else stood out for you? What were
the highlights from IPL 2?
Monty: True. Though we didn't display good consistent performances, my
biggest highlight was definitely our win against Mumbai Indians. Munaf
bowled his skin out. The super over win against KKR was huge as well, I
am sure everyone enjoyed Yusuf's big hits but lets not forget Kamran's
efforts as well. All I can say we have shown lot of character in
pressure games this year. Sweat, blood and tears are the ingredients of
our team, we will come back strong next year.
DreamCricket: What did you learn from the experience?
Monty: I must say this was one of the most important , challenging and
a wonderful experience of my cricketing career. I personally faced the
challenge of getting together with the different cultures and moods
which a common dressing room carries. Just imagine when you are the
most crucial link between the overseas players, Indian players and the
foriegn coaching team, with one of the greatest ever performer Shane
Warne as your captain/coach, the challenge is bigger than one could
At the end of the tournament I am happy that my inputs were appreciated
by Shane and Darren and I am hoping for further involvement to create
something special for next year.
Of course all this wouldn't have been possible without the
support of Manoj Badale and the management team of Rajasthan Royals who
trusted in my abilities.
DreamCricket: What's in store for you next? Are you going to return to Atlanta to coach here?
Monty: I am heading off to England, we have a one off match against
Middlesex in July. Maybe I will return after that to Atlanta. I am
emotionally attached to that city as my parents still live there. The
biggest thank you goes to my parents and my wife who have supported me
right from the start. They have sacrificed a lot for me and I owe them
all a lot.
DreamCricket: How do you rate the IPL itself? The move to South Africa?
Monty: Overall IPL was a huge success in South Africa and hats
off to Lalit Modi who officially has a staff of only 4 people and yet
could manage an impossible. He is proof that "Impossible is Nothing."
DreamCricket: Thank you Monty. We hope that you will stop by and visit our DreamCricket Academy on your next trip. Our boys will surely be eager to meet you and get some tips.