Powell - Fast bowling glory to return
Bangalore, India - Fresh after a successful limited overs campaign, the West Indies 'A' skipper Kieran Powell reminisces on the tour so far as a captain and player, the surprising crowds for the games, playing against the big names of Indian cricket and some more in an exclusive chat with cricbuzz.com
Can you tell us a bit about the team morale right now after the win?
The team morale is very good at the moment. Coming to India and winning in India is a very difficult thing especially this Indian team. We are very proud of it.
Did you have any special preparation before coming here to India?
There was no special preparation. As you'd know most of the guys were playing in the Caribbean Premier League. After that we went back to our respective homes for one or two weeks. Then we gathered in Barbados and came straight here. There was no camp.
A lot of these youngsters have not toured India before but you have. Did they come and ask you about India? What did you tell them?
Well basically all we told these guys was not to play any "names". Obviously the Indians will have lots of guys who have played loads of cricket. We've been watching these guys even before we've started playing cricket. "Just go with them and just play positive cricket.
Back yourself." Obviously it's a new combination so we tried to assess conditions as soon as possible and learn as much as possible. Once we put in our 100%, we could be victorious and that actually happened.
What did you tell the guys after losing the first ODI?
Losing the first ODI was actually a blessing in disguise. We got to see the Indian players and how they play. We got a chance to actually have plans as a team for these guys and how to go about attacking these guys Both batting and bowling.
Obviously no team likes to lose but it worked in our favour in terms of the overall series as well.
Can you give us an insight to any such plan/tactics that you came up with after the first ODI?
We did not have any specific plans for any individuals as such. We just wanted to change it up because we saw that If a bowler was given a long spell, with the quality of batsmen the Indians have, they were able to go after them and even hit them out of the park.
We just wanted to mix it up. From the first game we also saw the areas some of these guys liked to hit the balls. We watched them at the T20-League and in this game We tried to bowl the balls as much as possible in such a way that they score in areas we want them to and not in areas they wanted to.
Have these crowds that you've seen in Bangalore surprised you?
Yes. They've definitely surprised me. It's an 'A' team series and we weren't expecting such big crowds. We know that the Indian public is just crazy about cricket. They seemed to like the West Indian players as well. So it was a pleasant surprise for us.
How have you guys been handling the extra attention that has been coming your way?
The guys have been have been handling it well because even with the CPL we had big crowds coming in. All the Caribbean islands were sold out. So the guys had a feeling for that just prior to coming here. I think they'd be used to it by now.
So there could be a downside to all this extra attention too, right? With so many youngsters travelling they could become soft targets for nefarious people looking to exploit them. Have these guys had special counselling about this?
Every team member here knows that we have an absolute zero-tolerance policy to anything of that nature. As a team, obviously we've been away from home but we've been bonding well. We' haven't really been out that much.
We've just spent more time in each others rooms, get to know each other better because we're from different countries even though we play for the West Indies. Getting to appreciate your team mates, that's more sort of what we've been doing so far on this tour.
We've just been relaxing, talking to the other guys, getting to know them well. Playing on the playstation and that sort of stuff.
Like you'd mentioned that you guys are from different countries. Do you have any team-building exercises? How difficult is this to manage as a captain?
I wouldn't say its difficult. I've already played with some of these guys before and other guys, I would have seen them play at some point.
So, I had a talk with these guys just before the series started. Just to get a feel of what they were looking for from them and how we could combine to get the best out of each individual.
I found that we've been gelling well. Most of these guys have played in the home series against Sri Lanka A. I probably was the only guy not to play in that series. It was just me coming in and not a whole new group of guys.
How important are these A tours in terms of selection? We have the Caribbean Premier league, the Champions league and so may other tournaments that put you in the spotlight. So hypothetically if a player was pressed for choice, what would his response be?
As far as I see it, all three tournaments are very important. It's just a matter of where a guy gets an opportunity. Whether it is the Champions League, CPL or an A tour. It's a matter of each individual to grab their opportunity. Obviously different guys will be looking to play different formats.
Each of these is a global opportunity because you're playing against guys from different nations. You cannot really say one is more important than the other. Each of these opportunities is definitely a great learning experience.
Has this situation ever cropped up - the players having to chose between something like an A tour or the Champions League?
I'm not sure if that ever happened. If it has, I really don't know about it. So I cannot comment on that particular point.
On a similar note, these 'A' tours could be quite a challenge in terms of captaincy. You're leading a side full of individuals who are in one way competing against each other for a spot in the national team but you've got to play together. How do you as a captain deal with this?
Well we just try to instill in these guys that every individual has the ability to move on to the international level. It's just a matter of getting the international experience and exposure. Obviously there is not much pressure on the 'A' tours. We try to play as a unit still. We don't try to make it about individuals.
We make it about the West Indies 'A' team trying to win games for the West Indies region. So that's how we do it. We try and put the guys in the best situation for them to come up trumps for the team.
Can you elaborate a little more?
At the end of the day, you don't want people to be going out there and playing selfish cricket You know each individual trying to get a score but the team still losing. The selectors take a wider scope into the selection process. You know its not all about just one guy scoring a hundred every game but the team still losing.
It won't look good against a guy scoring a fifty but contributing to the team winning. Different guys will have different roles. The selectors will have a look at the scores but they will also have an eye out to see if this guy is ready for International cricket. Is he just playing for himself or is he playing for the team.
That's fair enough. You've been groomed for captaincy. What exactly have you gained personally as a captain from the limited overs leg of this tour?
Well as a captain it's been a fantastic experience to see like what the captains of the senior team have to do on a daily basis. It's made me more aware of situations as to what to expect, what other captains might be going through. It's not only about myself now.
I learned about how to deal with players, how to deal with situations. It's made me read the game more. It's really been a wonderful personal experience for me. I've really enjoyed it.
How about your batting? There is this extra pressure of captaincy as well. How have you been balancing the two?
Well I've been speaking to the coaches. Obviously, I'm very new to captaincy at this level . It's just a matter of my balancing my batting with my captaincy, about not taking the pressure of captaincy when I play. Its a part and parcel of the game now.
Sometimes you have a low run of scores. Obviously this time my batting has not gone well but my captaincy went well. Sometimes the batting will go well but the captaincy won't go well. Sometimes they will all just click together. I'm learning a lot from this experience.
Now I'm just looking forward to the 4-day games. Hopefully, with the relief from captaincy, the scores will come my way.
Kirk Edwards will be leading in the 4-day games. He performed brilliantly under you. He scored a crucial hundred to win you the series. How will you be supportin him out?
I'll be willing to give him any bit of advice. Obviously he's a more experienced captain than me but I've played more international cricket than him.
I'm not afraid to approach him. I will also try and get some runs on the board to try and make his job as a captain easier.
You will obviously be trying to make a comeback into the national ODI squad. With that in mind, would you have been happier to have been just concentrating on your batting and not the captaincy on this tour. Would that have helped?
Actually no. I actually learned more and I've enjoyed.it. Even if I didnt get the kind of scores that I was looking for, its still been a very good tour for me personally because I'm coming to India and winning in India.
Just that gives me great satisfaction, seeing guys coming out to perform the way they did. Jonathan Carter, we knew he had the ability but was not able to get the big scores. But here he has blossomed.
I mean that for me in itself has made up for not making runs.
Coming to the youngsters, Yuvraj Singh has said that he was very impressed with the likes of Beaton and Miguel Cummins. Do you see anyone being really special in your team?
There is No doubt that along with those two and Sheldon Cottrell, who you didnt get to see - these guys are extremely talented, extremely quick bowlers. They will have a massive impact on West Indies cricket. Back in the Caribbean we are actually getting carried away a little bit.
Anyway these guys are in particular will have a massive impact on the future, the next 15-20 years of West Indian cricket.
So you see that glorious tradition of Caribbean fast bowling returning?
Definitely. There is lots and lots and lots of young fast bowlers in the Caribbean right now. As we saw from Cummins, he's just an exceptional talent. We've seen Beaton. He is absolute quality.
He did not get it right on this tour but he's very good as well. We have Sheldon Cottrell who s been injured. Absolute quality again and he adds variety in our attack. He's a left-arm seamer. He swings it back in and he's got genuine pace. You have got lots of talent there.
What are you looking for personally from the upcoming 4-day games?
Personally I'm just looking to spend time in the middle. I'm not really worried about runs on the board. I just want to get in and bat a day. Bat 2 days. Who knows? However long the captain allows us to bat.
Do you enjoy doing that. Batting for two days or would you like it more if you get a quick fifty in a T20 game? Do you have any preference?
I think I'm a bit of a purist. So batting long hours is it for me. The longer, the better it is for me.
So you've played ODIs and T20s, now you'll be playing the 4-day games in a matter of weeks. How do you do the switch between formats. Is it a mental switch?
Being a professional now, this is what happens throughout the world. It's just part and parcel. You just learn to deal with it. You just keep recharging your mindset. It's batting regardless.
Obviously in Twenty20s and ODIs you'll have to be more expansive but in the longer formats you can just relax and bat. There's not pressure of scoring rate or anything. It's just for each guy to know their game and structure their innings I would say.
It should be easy. Interesting that - mental switch as you said, it's not really a very difficult switch because you already know what you have to do in the longer versions of the game. It's not difficult or anything.
You just have to adjust as quickly as possible. It's just about having a feel for the conditions again and enjoying it. Enjoy batting for long periods of the game.
The 4-day games will have even bigger Indian players coming in. That brings a lot more attention with it. How will you guys be handling it?
As you said there are a few big names playing but as I said earlier on, we are not playing the names. We just want to play good cricket. Big names too get out in just one ball just like we do as well. Not really worried about anything. We just want to come there, enjoy playing and express ourselves.
Can that be done easily? Forgetting that you're playing against the big names. The crowd attention is bound to bring that back into our mind.
The guys seem to have done it well.
We have planned it well for these guys as well. We have not really over planned but we've planned well for them. The guys seem to be enjoying it. Obviously playing against Sehwag and the likes of Gambhir will be a different challenge to playing against Yuvraj, who's a very good player.
They are really two top quality players. Once you enjoy it and once you give you 100% you can't do much. You can't worry about a guy having played around 100 Test matches or 50 matches. You just have to worry about that one ball that can get him out.