OLKATA - Be it Chris Gayle or Andre Russell, the West Indian cricketers have been in big demand in Twenty20 leagues across the world and former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak says it could be because perhaps the ‘powerful’ Caribbeans get ‘bored’ playing Test cricket.
Gayle smashed 104 not out from 63 balls against one of the best bowling attacks of the tournament – Sunrisers Hyderabad – to fashion Kings XI Punjab’s 15-run victory. Gayle who holds the record for the fastest T20 century and also the leading run-getter was back in his elements, days after his Jamaican fellow mate Andre Russell’s 12-ball 41 helped KKR return to winning ways with a 71-run victory over Delhi. It’s not just about Gayle and Russell alone but there’s Sunil Narine who has been credited for KKR’s success story in winning titles in 2012 and 2014. Also the likes of Dwayne Bravo (Chennai Super Kings), Kieron Pollard and Evin Lewis (both Mumbai Indians) form the core of their respective franchises in the IPL.
“Firstly, they enjoy it I think. They get bored by playing the long format of the game. A lot of them are playing all the leagues around the world, If you look at guys like Andre and Sunil from our team and others in the tournament like Pollard,” Streak said. “You are getting to a stage where guys are making a career solely out of playing T20 cricket. They play in PSL (Pakistan), CPL (Caribbean), BBL (Big Bash), IPL.
“They’ve got physical attributes, the power. The guys like Pollard, Russell are physically strong guys, even their mis-hits go over the boundary.” But the KKR bowling coach hoped they have got enough variations in their armoury to stop Gayle early before he gets into his zone. “Lot of people always ask us bowling coaches ‘what’s the plan’. It is very difficult for us to say because then he’ll find out. So we can’t really tell you the exact plan. He is a dangerous player. How you start to him is very important early on. If you allow someone like Chris to get into rhythm and confidence, he is a very dangerous player. He is so powerful and backs his ability when the ball is in his zone to clear the boundary.”
Streak further said variation of slow balls have become the flavour of this IPL. In a format dominated by batsmen, it’s the bowlers who have become intelligent and smart – be it the pacers who cleverly use their slower ones to great effect or the demand of the wily wrist spinners. “Players have developed the ramp shots and stuff like reverse ramp. It has challenged the bowlers. You have seen that the different varieties of slow balls have become the flavour of the tournament,” Streak said at the pre-match news conference. Streak said wide yorkers and knuckle balls have become handy variations for the pacers.
“It’s not just the good old off-cutters and the ones that come from the back of the hand. We have seen the knuckle balls, and its variation. Most batsmen are now so good strikers that if you miss a yorker, and it’s half volley or a low full toss, it generally goes to the boundary. That’s why the wide yorkers. There’s not many players who can consistently hit fours and sixes over the offside field. That’s why you see a lot many wide yorkers being implemented.” Streak also hailed the U-19 World Cup winning duo of Shivam Mavi and Shubman Gill. “They definitely are right from the Virat Kohli school of fielding… Last year’s KKR, I think the fielding wasn’t one of their strengths.
I think we are definitely one of the top fielding sides with the youngsters coming in. That’s also a welcome aspect of KKR’s game that these guys have brought.”