In a statement, the group said that the team management recognised the need for a central team at the helm of affairs because of the company’s expansion to “ensure consistency […] on ethos, values, and learning, that have made MI one of the most loved cricket brands across the globe”.
Elaborating on the roles and responsibilities of the two men who will be right at the top of the backroom staff, the statement said that Jayawardene would be involved with “overall strategic planning, the creation of an integrated global high-performance eco-system, as well as responsibility for each team’s coaching and support structures, working closely with the team head coaches to ensure synergies, a consistent brand of cricket, and implementation of best practices set by MI.”
ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the franchise will shortly unveil the new head coach for the IPL team, a job Jayawardene has performed since the 2017 edition of the IPL, overseeing three title wins.
Calling the elevation “an absolute honour”, Jayawardene said he looked forward “to this new responsibility to build a strong cohesive global brand of cricket”.
As for Zaheer, he would be “responsible for player development, building on MI’s robust programme around talent identification and grooming and adopting the same across geographies, which has been core to MI’s philosophy and success”.
“MI has been home for me as a player and as a coaching team member, and now as we embark on a new journey, I look ahead to working closely with all the stakeholders in the global network to unearth new potential that can join the family,” Zaheer said.
The streamlining of the top roles in the coaching staff came after the Mumbai Indians owners bought the two new teams.
“I’m happy to have Mahela and Zak as part of our global core team. Both have been an integral part of the MI family and embody the spirit of the cricket MI stands for,” Akash Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio Infocomm, the owners of Mumbai Indians, said. “I’m confident that they would be able to ensure the same flows through all our teams globally and make a difference in the cricketing ecosystems across the globe.”
The ILT20 and the SA20 will both have their inaugural seasons in January-February next year. The owners felt that the changed circumstances needed one person in charge of the coaching arm globally, a role that best suited Jayawardene because of his extensive experience as an international player and captain, as well as a coach in franchise T20 cricket.
Jayawardene and Zaheer have worked closely since the latter joined the support staff at Mumbai Indians in 2018. In 91 matches since then, Mumbai Indians’ win-loss ratio of 1.289 has been the best among the original eight IPL teams. However, Mumbai have struggled for form and consistency in the last two seasons, and finished last in the ten-team event in 2022 where they won just four out of their 14 matches.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo