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Dirk Nannes is no ordinary cricketer. For this Victorian, hurling down a cricket ball is not the be all and end all of life. A professional skier, who participated in various World Cup skiing events for several years, Nannes embraced cricket as a career in 2005-06.
He played for Netherlands in the 2009 World Twenty20 [Nannes holds a Dutch passport], then turned up for Australia in an ODI and some T20Is. Now the multi-talented Nannes plies his trade in Twenty20 leagues around the world. His lethal combination of pace, variation, swing and accuracy makes him one of the most sought-after bowlers in the shortest format.
In the IPL, it’s the Royal Bangalore Challengers who reap the benefit of Nannes’s versatility. He missed almost the entire tournament in 2011 due to a side strain. He’s back this year, fitter, fresher and more determined. The cheerful fast bowler caught up with iplt20.com ahead of RCB’s first clash of the season, against the Delhi Daredevils.
Unfinished business in IPL
I am very excited to be back this season. I feel like I have unfinished business; it was very disappointing to get injured last year and miss so much time. But I am back, and hopefully, I can put myself on the park much more than I did. The perils of being a Twenty20 specialist
I think the hard part of doing what I do is the off season. For [us] people, who just play T20 cricket, we don’t have a home base. It’s okay at the moment because I am in the middle of my season. The tough time for us is when it gets to November and there aren’t any T20 competitions. So it’s hard to not detrain and keep getting those miles under your belt that you need.
Every team needs a balanced attack; I think that’s something we’ve struggled with in the past. We’ve always been able to make 200 runs, [but] struggled to restrict teams. We’ve missed a fourth and fifth bowler I guess. I think Vinay fills a massive hole for us in that regards. Time for the bowlers to step up
The bowlers have probably let the side down in the last little while because we’ve been letting teams get 200 or 210. But we’ve been fortunate to have a batting line-up that just comes out and scores the runs. We can’t, as a bowling unit, rely on that happening always. As a team, we’ll be able to bowl better this time. I am looking forward to the entire team getting us to the final, and not just our batting. Everyone has a job to do. The spin twins, Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori
Given the quality and the number of overseas player we have, it’s going to be difficult to fit Murali, Vettori and Nannes in the same team. So, I’m not sure if I’ll ever bowl with them. But I am sure it’s going to be great having them around. Having people like that around is invaluable for the team. The toughest nut to crack
The best batsman in the world right now is Virat Kohli, and fortunately he is in our team. He has had a phenomenal run of form. In general, I tend to struggle with people with fast wrists. Brendon McCullum has played very well against me. Jayawardene and Sangakkara too are excellent. There are a lot of players.
The Chris Gayle factor
I am not too bothered about Chris Gayle; I’ve gotten him out every time I’ve played him.
A destructive batsman but a nurturing senior, Adam Gilchrist is a real asset for any team. The 40-year-old enjoys sharing the lessons he has learnt over the years with the youngsters around him while picking up new ones himself. King XI Punjab will hope the wicketkeeper-batsman can pull a rabbit out of the hat like he did in 2009 for his former team, Deccan Chargers.
Ahead of his side’s opening game, against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur, Gilchrist spoke about how he acquired the nickname Churchy, his passion for cricket and more in an interview with iplt20.com
How do you manage the dual responsibility of being coach and captain?
As a captain in the previous years I have always tried to be very involved in supporting the coaching staff and offering inputs in the running of the team. So I feel like I have always had that sort of responsibility under the captaincy umbrella. I see it as a group effort. We have managed to bring together a really high-level coaching group. We have brought in Mike Young and Joe Dawes, who is India’s bowling coach – he is a nice link to have with the BCCI. And Vikram Rathore gives us great knowledge in Indian conditions and experience. Between the four of us I feel like it is going to be a real group coaching effort. Obviously someone is going to be accountable in the end and I take that responsibility but yes, I feel very comfortable with the dual role. What is your focus while working with youngsters?
IPL is a tournament where everyone comes in from different backgrounds, trying to focus on a six-week period. So it is about bringing the group together. Obviously, the younger players in particular are looking at not just the IPL but developing their game and improving. So if there is any experience that I can pass on to them, help them become a better cricketers and better people, I will do that. These are the areas that I focus on. You have lifted the IPL trophy once for Deccan Chargers with a relatively inexperienced but enthusiastic group of young players. Are you looking forward to recreating the magic again?
We probably started [on that course] last year, really, when we had a brand new group. Kings XI hadn’t had a great deal of success prior to that so that’s where the foundation was and we will continue to work on that. We managed to have a pretty successful year without making it into the semi-finals, which is a bit disappointing. But I am really excited about trying to get that group together and developing it. What’s it like to work with a multicultural group?
That’s the part that I really enjoy; it is really interesting. It is a good challenge to work out what things you need to do. Firstly, you need to make sure everyone understands what you are doing. You also work out what you need to do to motivate players and get the best out of them. All those areas are really interesting and enjoyable as a challenge.
Being a big hitter of the ball yourself, what is your advice to young batsman who are keen to clear the ropes in this fast-paced, high-intensity format?
The more Twenty20 cricket everyone plays, the more they realise there is a balance. It definitely is a power game and [one has] the desire to hit boundaries but there is definitely room for the skill of more traditional cricket shots, the importance of getting singles and not being bogged down, and turning over the strike and so on. Everyone is understanding that better and better and we are all learning from each other. How do you work on your fitness, especially since you keep wicket, which takes an additional toll on your body?
I guess there is a certain endurance level that remains from my professional full-time days but I enjoy being fit. I don’t just keep fit for the IPL; I keep fit for a healthy life and myself. I do a variety of training [exercises]. I do a lot of boxing and a bit of running. I didn’t run a lot when I was playing [fullt-time] because of my knees but they are pretty good [now] so [I do] bike-riding and just about anything that can get me outside and keep me healthy. How did you acquire the nickname Churchy?
That was from a young boy who didn’t know me. I was standing with Steve Waugh and Glenn McGrath and the young boy went up and he recognised Steve and Glenn and he looked up at me and he had no idea who I was. He asked me, “Are you Eric Gilchurch?” I don’t know where he got that name from but that’s who he thought I was, so my teammates call me Churchy, which is short from Eric Gilchurch.
What are your thoughts on Rahul Dravid, the Rajasthan Royals skipper?
He is a wonderful person and just an amazing cricketer and one who will be sorely missed [on the international circuit]. He has always been a terrific person and the cricketing world appreciates just how valuable Rahul has been for the game.