Owais Shah has featured in the T20 leagues such as the IPL, Big Bash League and CPL © Getty Images
Owais Shah has featured in the T20 leagues such as the IPL, Big Bash League and CPL © Getty Images

The Jamaica Tallawahs face the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel in the first semi-final of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2014. Ahead of this important clash, Nishad Pai Vaidya spoke to Owais Shah about Jamaica’s tournament, playing T20 cricket, sharing the dressing room with Chris Gayle and a lot more.

The defending champions Jamaica Tallawahs find themselves in a knockout situation in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2014. With the change in format, the table-toppers head directly into the final, with the teams placed at Nos 3 and 4 face each other in a playoff and the winner then takes on the side placed at No 2 for a berth in the final. Jamaica were leading the table for a major part of the tournament, but a couple of tough games towards the end of the league phase dented their hopes of direct qualification. But Owais Shah, the Jamaica batsman is confident of their chances.

Speaking to CricketCountry, the England batsman said, “Yes, it is going well. It is a good tournament. We had a couple of bad games, but are in the semi-finals and are hoping to play well this week. Hopefully we can make it to the second semi-final and then the final.” It is a star studded line-up featuring Chris Gayle, Daniel Vettori, Adam Voges among others. Having done all the hard work through the tournament, it was a disappointment when they lost their last two games to let go the advantage.

Shah said that it is disappointing to lose out on the top spot, but they are now focusing on the semi-finals. “Obviously, we were disappointed, but that is the way it has worked out. We led the tournament most of the time, but we haven’t been consistent enough right at the end of the round robin games. That happens in T20 cricket. But, as far as we are concerned, we are still in the semis. We are not going to worry too much about that, but will focus on the next game,” Shah said.

Jamaica now face the formidable Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, a side that has its own share of entertainers and big hitters. In such situations, it is experience that counts and Jamaica aren’t short of that. “We’ve got a lot of experience. It is a big game for us and hopefully the experienced guys would come through and will all perform when the pressure is really on. That’s what we have to do and will try to do on Wednesday against a good Trinidad team,” said Shah.

Shah has now travelled the world as a T20 cricketer. He has featured in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and has also turned up in the Big Bash League (BBL). Having travelled around the world, Shah believes it is about adjusting to the conditions as a player. “The challenges are the conditions — learning how to bat in India, England, Australia and then the Caribbean. You try and draw on your experiences if you are lucky enough to play international cricket, which I was,” he said.

Shah has his own way of playing the game though. He stands still and then changes the angles of his bat to place the ball in “uncanny” areas as certain commentators believe. Some even believe he plays unorthodox shots. Shah said, “I don’t think I play unorthodox shots. Actually, I just play simple cricket. Sometimes you have to assess your work and I try and play how I play. I try and help the team to win and contribute with the bat. Having said that, I can’t say I have had the best CPL. I have struggled for a little bit of form. Hopefully, I can turn it around when it matters in the semi-final.”

The opportunity to travel the world does bring about the opportunity to share the dressing room with players like Rahul Dravid (Rajasthan Royals) and Gayle (Jamaica). Shah believes that while they are big names, one must remember they are normal people and are helpful. “Yes of course, they are awesome players in all forms of the game. But, they are normal people as well. They try and help you if they can. It is nice to rub shoulders with the likes of Chris Gayle, Daniel Vettori and players like that in the dressing room in Jamaica Tallawahs.  I love it; I enjoy playing with top players,” said Shah.

As Shah prepares for the most important games of the CPL, he does say that it has been a good tournament and has helped the game. The atmosphere is what has caught his eye and he is happy to have featured in the CPL. He said, “T20 is exciting and it tries to promote the game of cricket. It makes it exciting and is more sort of a party atmosphere at the grounds where you have got a lot of music. It (CPL) is very similar to an IPL or a Big Bash. It is about entertaining the people and the kids — trying to encourage them to come and watch cricket.”

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)