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As Ricky Ponting’s understudy, Michael Clarke learnt some of the most vital lessons of leadership. Since taking over the reins of the Australian team, Clarke has already earned respect as a leader. Still a new captain, close interaction with the sport’s best leaders is a great boost for Clarke’s own skills.
After staying away from the IPL for four years, Michael Clarke has embraced the tournament in 2012. As part of the Pune Warriors India, Clarke is keen to learn a thing or two about leadership from the team’s mentor/captain Sourav Ganguly.
A few hours after landing in India, Clarke spoke to iplt20.com about the prospect of playing a T20 for the first time since retiring from the shortest format of the game in October 2010, and getting his first taste of IPL.
What are you looking forward to the most in your first IPL season?
I think just being a part of the Pune Warriors [India] team. We were playing Test cricket in the West Indies and all the boys have been following the IPL closely. I have been watching as many Pune [Warriors India] games as possible. There is a lot of support from the crowd and they have been performing well. Hopefully, I can contribute to the team. This will be your first time in a league with players from different parts of the world. Are you looking forward to the experience?
It’s a very exciting prospect. It’s great for cricket that you have players from different countries coming together in one team. A lot of players have made a lot of friends because of the IPL. I am looking forward to spending some time with the coach and players from different countries.
You have spent a day with the PWI team. What is your first impression about the unit?
It’s a very strong unit and the guys have a common goal of being the best that they can be; the boys are training really hard. We all want to play good cricket and finish with a chance of making it to the playoffs. Gelling with the teammates is important for a player who joins in midway. Is that factor playing on your mind?
Gelling shouldn’t be an issue as I have played with or against most of the guys. I think that’s an advantage of playing international cricket as you come in touch with a lot of players in your career. There are a couple of Australians in the side which makes me even more comfortable.
You will be playing T20 cricket after a gap of two years. How difficult will it be to shift gears, physically and mentally, from Test cricket to T20 cricket?
I am excited to play T20 cricket again after a while. I trained quite a bit today with the white ball as Test cricket is a red ball game. I am hoping it won’t take me too long to adapt to this format; it is just a mind change. You just have to understand the game; the shots you play are similar in both Tests and T20s.
What are your thoughts on Sourav Ganguly as captain?
He has a lot of knowledge and experience and has been leading the PWI pretty well. I am looking forward to playing under him. I have known Sourav for a long time and have played a lot of cricket against him. I hope to spend some time in the middle with him and get some runs. What is the one thing that you would like to pick from his captaincy make your own?
I think there is a lot to take from him. One particular thing I’d like to pick is to lead from the front. He has always done that in all formats. It is really important for a captain to perform in order to get the best out of his players. Indian players dominate in the IPL. Will an insight into the way games and planned and executed in this tournament help you when you tour India with Australia?
I hope it will. Being in India and playing in the IPL has helped a lot of players and I think it will help me as well. It’s good to have Indian players in the side that you can learn from; they can tell you about the conditions and the pitch. It’s great for cricket as more players from different countries get a chance to play in India.
How much information about the Australian cricketers will you pass on to your mates in the PWI dressing room?
We play the Deccan Chargers next, which has Cameron White and Dan Christian. I will try to help PWI and give as much information as I possibly can. It is part and parcel of the game. It happens in Australia as well, when we play a first-class game. We are not playing for Australia; we are playing for different teams. We will do anything to beat the opposition. Apart from batting, how else are you looking to contibute to your team?
Hopefully, I can bowl a few overs. My goal is to be a part of the team and contribute as much as I can – bat in whatever position I’m asked to and share my experiences with the young boys.
Sunil Narine can bamboozle any batsman with his mystery balls. He was the destructor-in-chief when Trinidad & Tobago humbled the mighty Chennai Super Kings on their own turf in CLT20 2011. That performance played a big role in the off-spinner getting a chance in IPL 2012. He was back on the same ground, this time, as a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders.
After the Knight Riders registered their first ever IPL win in Chennai, Narine spoke to iplt20.com about his now-famous knuckle ball and other variations in his armoury.
When you were here for the CLT20 2011, you got the better of CSK; was that playing at the back of your mind today?
No it wasn’t really playing at the back of my mind. It’s a game of uncertainties, so whoever plays better cricket wins it. You underwent some changes with your action. What were they and how did it help you become the bowler you are today?
It wasn’t any major changes. I was just concentrating on my cricket and what I am capable of. Everyone supported me back home and made me believe that I can do anything.
What was the turning point of your career according to you?
It was the CLT20 2011. Playing in front of huge crowds and being able to perform at my best was an achievement.
How many variations do you have?
Three – the knuckle ball, off-break and the faster one. How did you develop the knuckle ball?
I have played a lot of soft ball cricket back home and tried it with the hard ball, and it came out pretty well. Hopefully, I continue doing this and come up with new balls.
Do you practice it often?
I practice it in every practice session. When do you use it the most?
I can’t say when I use it the most. It depends on the situation of the game and how I am going about my bowling. Which batsman picks you the best?
Due to modern technology, batsmen find a way to decode mystery bowlers very soon. As a bowler, you need to keep evolving. Are there any other variations you are working on?
Nothing at this moment. I am just concentrating on what I am capable of doing. In time I definitely will come up with something new.
You have three young spinners in the KKR side. Do you brain storm a lot among yourselves?
We talk about the game and how to go about ourselves. Hard work and dedication is the key to achieve anything. What’s the best thing about the IPL for you till now?
Playing in front of a huge crowd and performing at my best. What else could have I asked for?