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To ‘just smile’ in George Bailey’s way is not easy. Staying cool, calm and collected under pressure is a learnable skill. And to just smile - it takes intention. It takes heart. It takes constant learning to handle pressure and not losing the joy of playing the game.
Bailey was hit on the helmet by a Nathan Coulter-Nile and had saw his helmet flying. The helmet took a pounding and there were signs of worry and concern on the field. But, the incident did not take away the infectious smile from his face. ‘I felt as if my face was hit by a truck,’ he smiled while narrating the incident.
After a rain-curtailed match where Bailey partnered Ajinkya Rahane to race ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis system, we at IPLT20.com caught up with the former Australian ODI skipper on topics ranging from the review of Rising Pune Supergiants’ performance this season, his batting form and cricketing conversations with Mahendra Singh Dhoni Excerpts from the interview:
Congratulations on the win, George. Cricket is a great leveller – the other day you were at the receiving end of DLS and today on the winning side?
I think the coach (Stephen Fleming) has spoken quite distinctly on the subject. It is not necessary that you are on the right side or the wrong side of it, but I just think that the system at the moment needs reviewing. But, it is always disappointing when a game is hampered by rain. Narrate to us the Nathan Coulter-Nile delivery that struck you. What exactly happened?
I think those watching on TV would get a better picture of it than I do, because what I sort of remember is me getting hit on the face with a truck that was pretty quick. But, I was pretty glad to have one of those new helmets on.
We saw you saving the stumps from the rolling helmet and then there was some conversation with Delhi Daredevils players.
A couple of them were disappointed that the helmet hadn’t rolled on to the stumps(laughs). But, most people were just checking on me and how I was.
You have been getting starts this season but what do you think are the reasons for not converting them?
I think (it is) since I am just coming out of an off season and coming to the tournament a bit late and having not played any cricket at home in this period. I am taking a little bit of time and getting back into the swing of things and towards the end of each innings I have started to feel a lot better, but haven’t been able to convert into a big score or just hit the ball as cleanly as I like. It is a bit frustrating, but I guess the important thing is to get a little bit of partnership going.
George, if you look at Rising Pune Supergiants from outside – one sees very rich experience and quality with MS Dhoni, Fleming at the helm – why do you think the team didn’t click this season?
I think there is quality in every side, regardless of whether you finish on top of the table or finish at the bottom. Not having been here from the start, I am not in the best position to talk about it, but a lot of injuries and a lot of games that have come down to the last over and gone the other way. The best sides tend to win that. It is a little frustrating as there are only little things that could’ve changed the course of our journey and we would have been fighting for the playoffs position as well. Tell us an interesting conversation you have had with MS Dhoni this season?
I had a really good chat with him after the last game. We just talked about roles in the middle-order and the role he likes to play - build his innings and start to strike the ball as well as he does in the end. That was a great insight for me as I always batted in the middle-order, mostly at the same position, but he is obviously more powerful than I am, so those insights were great for me.
There is that fear in the opposition when Chris Gayle walks out to bat. Be it at any ground in the world, as an opposition you could begin to wonder, “Will he brew a storm and shred us to pieces, will he flash like a lightening and walk off to a thunderous applause?” Gayle in his 31-ball stay at the crease not only shredded the Kolkata Knight Riders bowling to pieces but also showed flashes of what could come in the games ahead. He walked off with a breezy 49 to a thunderous applause from the crowd that cheered every run of his.
Gayle had done two things - one, entertain his fans who have been longing for his willow to talk, and two, he had laid a perfect platform for the master class of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers to finish the run-chase in grand style. The storm had blown, it was followed by a gentle breeze and it began raining at the Eden Gardens almost as if to say even the skies had opened up to appreciate the RCB batting class. We find ourselves in the confines of the dressing room as we run for cover from the rain. We catch up with the ‘Universe Boss’ who gets talking about the storm that had been brewing within him for long, his adoration for the Virat-ABD duo and the CG warning that will always loom large each time he walks out to bat.
P.S. Bengaluru fans will have more reasons to celebrate - that’s a Chris Gayle promise Read on to find out more.
This storm was brewing inside you for long, isn’t it?
The storm was brewing slowly for sure. I wasn’t getting any runs of late but I have played so much cricket that I wasn’t really bothered too much. I wanted to entertain the fans in some form or the other. I am very happy as of now. I am happier for the fans rather than myself. They always want to see a Gayle storm and I am glad that I could give them some runs. You have an outstanding record against KKR at the Eden Gardens. What is it about the opposition and venue that triggers you to perform even better?
Playing against KKR gives me a bit of confidence because at one stage this was my home ground as well. You are accustomed to the conditions and I have played a final here so I know what is actually required in the Eden Gardens. As a team we knew 184 was always gettable on this surface. We know what it is like to play in Kolkata as well. The situation needed us to try and go from ball one. I just put that in the back of my mind and intended to keep going, keep attacking and keep being positive throughout. That was the mindset tonight, to totally try and get past the first two overs. I haven’t got past the first two overs in a long time and once I broke that shackle tonight then eventually things were set to play out smoothly.
How does it feel to get a string of low scores especially when so much is expected off you? What do you tell yourself at such times?
It was always a lot of pressure but I was always backing myself because these things do happen as a cricketer and you go to a stage where you think, what if the runs don’t come. You need to accept defeat and when you do that it is always a chance for you to rebound when you get a chance. Every day is a new day and you try and start fresh and do what is required. You keep putting in the work and you know one day it will actually come together again. It was about still having that self confidence and hopefully this is the start of a new beginning. I hope I can set the pace again and try and give the team the start that is needed. You have received a lot of backing from your captain and team management. Given your form and situation of the team in the tournament, what was the talk before the game started?
Definitely! I have got a lot of backing. I have been pretty relaxed throughout. It was an important day and in our team meeting today we said we are going to play fearless cricket. We said everybody needs to relax and enjoy the game and not put themselves under too much pressure. The captain and the coach asked us to enjoy our game and we were sure everything would come together. Most of the times we have been batting first and we are a team that likes to chase as well. I am a person who likes to chase as well. When I am chasing a target I know how to actually work out my batting even better and which bowler I am going to take down. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are batting in a different zone altogether. Your thoughts?
It is the most destructive batting pair at the moment and we have to give credit where it is due. They are two of the best players in the world now without a doubt. They enjoy each other’s company while batting together. You see those big partnerships; they are very fast between the wickets as well. The fielders and bowlers are always under pressure when those two are batting. They are remarkable and both have been scoring runs consistently right through the year. All I can do is wish they continue this way, fill their boots as much as possible and don’t take their feet off the gas, keep pressing. They have been batting superbly. Virat, what a fantastic run he is in now. Congrats to him for most runs in an IPL season so far and we still have two games to go. These games are all very important to us. It is crunch time and it was a must-win situation for us. The intensity from the team was brilliant tonight. Hopefully we can make it to the playoffs as well.
This innings is almost like a warning from the World Boss isn’t it? Can we expect a big one at the M Chinnaswamy stadium?
It’s not World Boss, it is Universe Boss. All the Bengaluru fans can see a big one coming from Gayle. Since the World Cup I have been trying to please them in a particular way but it didn’t happen. I am looking forward to giving them more reasons to cheer, something they have been longing for some time now. When I get an opportunity to do so, I am looking to press some gas. There is no Chris Gayle capability and there is not a situation where I get 49 runs and I have issued a warning. The Chris Gayle warning is always there for the bowlers regardless I get runs or not. CG is the ‘Universe Boss’.