The Doctor & Bazz: Partners in prime

A closer look into the batting manual of CSK’s new opening pair

Sharjah 28 April 2014
We talk about hunting in pairs and many a times have referred to batting partnerships in cricketing folklore that have become iconic. Be it in whites or in coloured clothing, partnerships have always been about complementing one another and enjoying each other’s success and company on and off the field. In the shortest format of the game, this camaraderie between players becomes equally important. It is the duo at the top that sets the platform for the players to follow. If they get off to a cracker, the foundation for a big score is laid.

Such has been the case with Chennai Super Kings’ brand new opening pair that has got the team off to a rollicking start this IPL. They started off with a bang with a 123-run stand against Kings XI Punjab, and in the following games, they pitched in with two half-century partnerships for their side. In their first match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum scripted yet another flying start that helped their side chase a target of 146 with ease.

Smith was severe as he smashed five sixes in his match-winning half-century and was complemented by Brendon McCullum at the other end, who scored a 33-ball 40. In his post-match chat with, McCullum was all praises for his new batting partner – “The Doctor." We also got a little peek into the duo’s psyche while opening the batting for CSK.

Excerpts from his interview:

CSK’s UAE leg comes to an end. Four out of five sure makes for good reading.

It has been a good time here. We have played some good cricket, and if we had been given four out of five wins for this part of the tournament before the start of the competition, we would have been pretty happy. We have played well and gelled quite nicely as a team with a couple of new changes with me coming into the unit too. Hopefully, we continue that form when we get to India.

Dwayne Smith and you seem to be enjoying batting at the top in yellow.

There is still a long way to go in the tournament, but I have certainly enjoyed my partnership with Dwayne Smith, “The Doctor”. It is great to bat with him because he is so powerful and has a lot of options in his batting. He is a very intelligent cricketer as well. We seem to have a good rapport and get a good partnership going. It is nice to be able to contribute, and personally too I am enjoying my time with CSK so far.

Two explosive batsmen at the top. Do you feel CSK has the most explosive opening pair in the IPL?

So far we have done well. We may not be the most explosive pair, but in terms of how we have been playing, we have managed to give our team a good start in most games. We are pretty lucky that both of us hit the ball and hit it in different areas. I saw a comment from our captain, MS Dhoni, earlier in the week when he said that Smith and I don’t compete against each other but we complement each other,which is nice to have in an opening partnership. We also have so much power to follow that we both have the confidence to play positively.

All these years, CSK have had Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay opening the batting. Hussey would play anchor most times with Vijay going for his shots. What do you do given that both you and Smith are aggressive batsmen by nature?

Michael Hussey did outstandingly well for the Chennai Super Kings all these years and those are tough shoes to fill for the two of us at the moment. Hussey has served this franchise incredibly well and now we have this opportunity to do the same. We have started well and there is still long way to go.

The captain and the coach have complemented our abilities to play our games. They don’t want us to be too aggressive, but just play the style of cricket, which has got us to where we are in world cricket at the moment. It is always nice to get a leadership team like that to give the confidence to go out and play. What we have seen are reasonably aggressive starts from us, which are in character with how we are as players.
We are not trying to be what we are not; we are just trying to play our natural game and be as good as we can at the top.

What kind of talks do you and Smith share while batting?

Smithy normally talks. (Laughs) We get along really well, which is helpful. We enjoy each other’s company and enjoy each other’s batting and have struck up decent enough partnerships till now. Some of the other things we talk about are the tactical stuff in the middle, but we also talk about the confidence and approach to certain situations of the game. I am not going to give too many secrets away, but certainly I enjoying batting with him. I enjoy how wise a head he has about his game. He has certainly shown his experience in this format of the game.

UAE done, will be back in India soon. Can't wait to play at Chennai, can you?

It will be fun to be back in India and play at Chennai. I have played there against Chennai Super Kings a few times and it will be nice now that I am playing with them. I am sure we will get good support there as well. If we keep playing good cricket, it will certainly help.
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