USA cricket has appointed champion cricket coach J Arun Kumar as the head coach of the men's national team. In a blog, USA Cricket CEO, Iain Higgins stated, “I’m delighted to say we have reached an agreement that he will take up the role and be permanently based in the United States as and when his working visa has been obtained. Of course, the Covid-19 crisis has now presented some challenges around the scope of the role in the short/medium term, but we look forward to completing all of the arrangements and to welcoming him more formally in due course.”
JAK, as the former Karnataka captain is popularly known, was in Houston to meet players, selectors, team management and support staff. He returned to India just before the lockdown.
Confirming his two-year contract, the former opener said, “I’m excited about taking up my first international assignment. I’ve always been up for challenges and this assignment gives me an opportunity to test myself against bigger and better teams. I'm looking forward to working with players to ensure there is an upward climb in USA cricket. My mission is to bring players from diverse cultures together and make sure they play quality cricket against better sides.” While waiting for the work visa, which has hit a roadblock due to the pandemic, JAK has started virtual training. “There is nothing we can do on the field in the current circumstances, but that hasn’t stopped us from making a start,” he pointed out. “I’ve been in touch with the players and support staff on video calls. We also have a system through which we are analysing situations with the bowlers and batsmen.”
With the USA talent pool consisting largely of expats from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Australia, JAK believes his time at RCB as a player and with Kings XI Punjab as coach will hold him in good stead.
“My time in different roles at the two franchises will matter hugely. In IPL, teams come together for a maximum of two months, including the pre-tournament camp. So, it is crucial that as coaches, we quickly break the ice with players, understand their comfort zone, analyse how much you can push each one of them and set expectations of performance under pressure. As an IPL player, I was very observant of the coaches and learnt from how they approached each player,” said JAK, who has won Ranji Trophy titles with Karnataka both as player and coach. JAK, who will move to the US with his wife and daughter, predictably picked the Karnataka role as his most special coaching stint.
Apart from his home state, he has also coached Hyderabad and Puducherry, apart from coaching teams to titles in the T20 leagues in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.