Mumbai Indians head coach Mahela Jayawardene revealed that the club’s scouting does not just involve ‘instant decision-making’ and cited the example of Marco Jansen, who he revealed was monitored for three years. Eventually, in the IPL 2021 auction, MI purchased Jansen for INR 20 lakh.
Mumbai Indians have won more IPL titles than any other franchise and one of the primary reasons behind the club’s success is their impeccable scouting. The Blues boast of a group of scouts who work throughout the year identifying players - both local and overseas - and it was this scouting that enabled the side to sign the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and the Pandya brothers before any other franchise knew of their talent.
According to the side’s head coach Mahela Jayawardene, however, scouting does not just involve individuals being glanced at once or twice. Jayawardene, in an interview with the Hindustan Times, revealed that the management spend years tracking potential superstars and cited the example of South Africa’s Marco Jansen, who the club, in the 2021 auction, purchased for INR 20 lakh. Jayawardene revealed that MI had, in fact, been tracking Jansen since he was an 18-year-old.
“We have a group of individuals who work throughout the year, watching games, spotting players. Not only locally but we do have the same kind of network overseas as well. And it’s not just instant decision-making. Marco Jansen (South African left-arm pacer) is a classic example. We have monitored him for the last three years,” Jayawardene told Hindustan Times.
“Then he was a 17-18 year old. We kept monitoring him and picked him the same time he was picked for South Africa (Test squad for Pakistan in January). I don’t think there are secrets to scouting. It’s just pure hard work and finding the right people who have the ability to pick talent. You have to trust their instincts and their hard work needs to be acknowledged. It’s a process. For me, it’s brilliant to have that input coming in, knowing that they are turning each and every stone to find this talent. We monitor them and when we decide we need to invest in them, we go ahead and do that.”
Scouting has contributed to Mumbai’s success, but, historically, they have also been the most successful franchise in terms of tapping into the potential of players. Players like Quinton de Kock, Trent Boult and Rahul Chahar all never realized their potential in their previous franchise(s), but have seen themselves turn into world-class superstars for Mumbai. Jayawardene admitted that his afranchise are the best in the league when it comes to getting the best out of the players, and insisted that it has a lot to do with the conversations the management have with the players.
"I think so (We are the best at tapping into the full potential of players). We look at a lot of aspects, not just the skill set or the overall package of a player.Because it’s important that those players have that cricket intelligence at a certain level as well. We push them to think about the game, think about the situation and then the skill set comes into play. We always feel certain players add value to the squad. We have options and we go with that instinct and try and get players (in auctions).
“That’s how we got Quinton de Kock from RCB or Trent Boult (from Delhi Capitals). We spent a lot of money on Ishan (Kishan). I still remember my first question at the press conference after that 2018 auction was that if we were mad to spend ₹6 crore on a young Indian wicketkeeper batsman who wasn’t proven at that time. But we saw the potential. Those are the things the Mumbai Indians franchise always try to do.
“These are collective thought processes. We go through a lot of discussions to come to those kinds of decision-making processes and we back ourselves once we make those decisions to make sure those players get to that potential and add value to the team. That’s the most important thing,” the former Sri Lanka skipper said.
Jayawardene, however, refused to take full credit for the development of players. Mumbai Indians have given the national side a host of superstars, including Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav, but the 43-year-old insisted that the franchise just ‘contributes’ to the player’s development.
“I don’t think we can take full credit for that. I think we are also part of that process. Everyone is part of the process. Our focus is only T20 cricket. Player development happens on various aspects as well. I think we are just contributing to that cause and process. Most of the player development on our part is when domestic Indian players come in to a squad like this, they are surrounded by a lot of experienced players. Associating them, the way the mindset is set up, tactically how we do things, that is an advantage for any young player. Then they start seeing the game in a much different way.”