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Pacer believes in Deccan Chargers’ ability to beat any team in IPL
By Hoshedar N. Gundevia
Mumbai 30 April 2012
Cricket is a batsman’s game, they say. Well, not on Sunday; and certainly not on that seaming Wankhede wicket. With batsmen accustomed to bludgeoning the ball all over the park, it was refreshing to see Dale Steyn absolutely dominate the Mumbai Indians batsmen. The Deccan Chargers might not have a lot going for them in IPL 2012, but they certainly have the best fast bowler in world cricket in their ranks.
The 28-year-old speedster was on top of his game again as he breathed hope into the Chargers’ bowling attack right from the first ball. MI’s Richard Levi couldn’t save his stumps for the second time in the competition, but Steyn’s heroics couldn’t save DC from succumbing to their sixth loss of the season. The fiery pacer, although disappointed after DC’s five-wicket loss against MI, took out time for a brief chat with iplt20.com.
What led to the decision of Kumar Sangakkara being left out of the playing XI?
We thought this was a wicket, which was probably going to seam around a little bit, and it was Sanga’s decision to keep himself out. He felt that we should play an extra international seamer. That was a captain’s decision and we respect that; and it almost worked tonight. Do you think you didn’t get enough support from the other bowlers?
I don’t think so. I think we were 30 or may be 40 runs short. Your team lost despite your brilliant bowling performance. What’s your take on that?
I think that says a lot about the team. I don’t think we are a pushover team. I think we are a fantastic team. We were bowled out for 100 and still managed to take the game to the 19th over. We have lost a couple of games, but it’s not like we are losing by 10 wickets or getting thumped by 70 or 80 runs, if we are batting second. We can beat any team on any night. Unfortunately, this season we have been on the other side because of some unluckiness. What elements of your team would you like to change?
I don’t think we need to change. We just have to be 10 percent better at everything; that includes our batting, bowling and fielding. Otherwise, I think we are playing unbelievably well. The results might not say that, but we have just not been lucky enough every time we have lost. What are DC’s ambitions going ahead in the tournament?
We will still try to win. We participate in this tournament to win the matches and to win the tournament. How fantastic will it be if we win all our remaining games?
You seemed really happy when you got Richard Levi out today. You also got him out in the home fixture against MI. Do you think you have his number?
They were totally different deliveries. One was a yorker and this was a length ball. He is a good player and I don’t have his number. I just got the better off him today.
There are mavericks in every field; the kind of people who change the way their profession is seen. When it comes to cricket umpiring, Billy Bowden is that man. Quirky and eccentric, funny and cheerful, Bowden is a departure from the stereotype that the umpires are bound into. With his inimitable style of signalling decisions and delightful sense of humour, Bowden adds colour to the profession of men with white coats.
Currently, in India to officiate in the most colourful cricket league, the 49-year-old umpire from New Zealand spoke to iplt20.com about the importance enjoying your job while being totally dedicated to it, and his experience in the Indian Premier League.
How is umpiring in a league like this is different from umpiring in the international matches?
The main difference is the amount of matches we officiate in over a short period of time along with the travel. Umpires need to be both mentally fit and physically in good condition to withstand the heat and demands placed on them pre and post match.
What about the IPL appeals to you the most?
The opportunity to test your umpiring skills amongst the world’s best players in the most competitive and highly skilled T20 competition in the world. I also enjoy visiting all the different cities in India and experiencing life on and off the field, while mixing and mingling with fellow umpires and all the people who love cricket in India. With the kind of shots played in the shortest format, does the importance of fitness and quick reflexes increase for an umpire?
T20 is not for the fainthearted umpire! The fitter and younger you are, the better chance you have of surviving any 150 km/h power shots that come towards you. Being totally alert and focussed on each ball is the key. Umpires rely on the bowler stopping the ball as well. But there are no guarantees, especially when you have the Gayles, Pollards, Pietersens and Sehwags batting at the other end. Maybe wearing some sort of helmet isn't too far away.
You are known the world over for your peculiar style of signalling various decisions. Is that something you’ve developed over the years?
All umpires are unique! Believe it or not, we have personalities like players do. We all enjoy and love the game and have a part to play. You'll see each umpire’s style of signals and giving out decisions is different. It shows the character and personality of an umpire, I believe. Yes, I have had arthritis since 1986, so giving out decisions with a bent or crooked finger is partly due to my arthritis condition. With your cheerful demeanour, you’ve broken the conventional belief that an umpire is this grumpy man standing on the field making decisions. Was that the motive behind developing this style?
I think we all take the game too seriously at times. It's only a game after all and not life or death. If you work hard, respect the game, don't take the game for granted and are honest with yourself and others, then there's no reason you can't enjoy the moments at every given opportunity. I say don't get grumpy, be happy! Is your umpiring style indicative of your sense of humour?
Spot on! No third umpire needed for this decision. You took the words right out of my mouth!
What is the funniest thing you’ve done on a cricket field?
It may not be that funny, but I had a bit too much chilli and spicy food in India one night before a match. When the bowler was about to bowl, he got a whiff of something when he passed me and lost his rhythm and had to stop suddenly. He turned back and asked if I had a dead animal in my pocket! Who is your favourite umpiring partner, the one who understands your sense of humour best and complements it best?
All umpires get to know you over the years and have a certain understanding on how you tick. But two that 'connect' best to my sense of humour are Aleem Dar and Asad Rauf. For all the decorativeness in your style, you remain one of the best umpires in the world. How do you balance the two – the fun factor and the seriousness involved in your work?
Having a good balance between fun and seriousness comes down to the individual at the time. It's important to have a good feel for the game, and what brings the best out of you in your umpiring comes with experience. Since making my international debut in 1995, I’ve endeavoured to utilise my experiences to maintain a professional attitude and respect for the game. One should learn more from failing than succeeding. But it's important I enjoy my umpiring and strive to be the best umpire I can be. Once I know in my heart that I have reached my true ability as an umpire, then I will call 'over and time' for the last time! Do you have an umpiring role model?
No I don't. But I have looked, listened and learned from past and present umpires on how they prepare, plan and what techniques they use. At the end of the day, I found that all umpires have similar techniques, routines and trigger points when umpiring at the international level. The only difference is our personalities and style. It would be a boring world and a waste if we were all the same huh? Yes, being the best umpire you can be is what it's all about; nothing more and nothing less. So why not smile, have a bit of fun and enjoy what you do along the way?