Sunil Narine: Virender Sehwag is the toughest batsman I have bowled to
Sunil Narine said he is excited to play for Guyana in the CPL 2014 season © Getty Images
Sunil Narine is gearing up for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) with the Guyana Amazon Warriors. He has been one of the best spinners in T20 cricket in the world and has a huge armoury of tricks. In an exclusive chat with CricketCountry’s Nishad Pai Vaidya, Narine speaks about the carom ball, the CPL, experience in the Indian Premier League and a lot more.
Sunil Narine is one of the leading spinners in T20 cricket in the world. Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, Narine went on to make name for himself with his unique brand of off-spin which made him one of the best bowlers in the shortest format. In the Indian Premier League (IPL), he has been a crucial part of the Kolkata Knight Riders setup, where he has won two titles. He has also been an important player for the West Indies. Having played all over the globe, Narine is now looking forward to play in front of home fans in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2014.
In this exclusive chat, Narine speaks about the CPL, the IPL, the toughest batsman to bowl to, his carom ball and a lot more.
CricketCountry (CC): The second season of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is upon us. What are the expectations a player from the West Indies or an international player would have from this tournament?
Sunil Narine (SN): I think this tournament would help cricket in the Caribbean just like it is in IPL (in India). I feel it will help showcase a lot of new talent that hasn’t reached international cricket. I think it is going to be a good tournament with all the international players coming from overseas. The local bunch has a lot of talent and should try to make the best use of it.
CC: Last year as well, you were a part of the Guyana Amazon Warriors. What was the first CPL like for you and your teammates?
SN: Having played all over the world and then playing a very big tournament at home makes you comfortable. It is going from strength to strength and trying to improve cricket in the West Indies.
CC: There is a lot of innovation in your bowling. As a young boy, did you start off with that unorthodox manner?
SN: Growing up, I never used to bowl spin, I used to bowl medium pace. It was only at the age of 17 that I started bowling spin. I was always a bit unorthodox but never had the carom ball then.
CC: So how did the carom ball and other variations come about?
SN: When Ajantha Mendis first came into the Sri Lankan team, he started bowling the carom ball. Looking at him, it gave me the confidence of starting it and eventually developing it.
CC: How long did it take you to perfect it? Carom ball comes from the fingers and it isn’t just about the arm.
SN: It wasn’t that difficult for me. Growing up in Trinidad, you played soft ball cricket with the same grip. You are just trying to convert it with a harder ball. At first it was a little difficult. But after practicing it, I became comfortable. I still have things to learn about it. Hopefully, I could learn as much as I could and go from strength to strength.
CC: How much importance and attention do you give to your batting? You do have some hitting ability.
SN: All the years I have played international cricket as a bowler, something you forget that you can bat as well. I do try to get as many hits as possible because you do not know what to expect in a T20 game. I’ve definitely given my batting a chance now.
CC: In T20 cricket, a batsman may go after you from the first over. How does a bowler maintain his calm in such situations and try to come back?
SN: Composure is an individual thing. How you react to certain things, makes it better for you. I can try to be humble and what do is to be as humble and quiet as possible, not show any expression to the batsman, so that they don’t read you and judge whether you are tense or you are anxious.
CC: What is the secret to Kolkata Knight Riders’ success? They have won two IPL’s in your time there.
SN: There has been team-work. The team, the management, the support staff, everybody at KKR were like one big family. I think we won the title was because we are very good off the field. Any team that is good off the field can give a 100 percent on the field. You stay together, no matter what situation you are in.
CC: Your rise was quite quick after the 2011 Champions League. How did you adapt to such a sudden rise?
SN: I played most of my cricket in Guyana and Trinidad, not flying as often. The Champions League set it off for me. My goal was always to play international cricket. The traveling etc was on the cards. Doing something you love makes it a lot easier as you enjoy it. Sometimes, when people say it is very hectic, to you it is a normal thing because that (playing cricket) is what you are living for.
CC: Having played T20 cricket across the world, who has been the toughest batsman to bowl at?
SN: For me, Virender Sehwag. He is a very good player of off-spin. He doesn’t let the situation of the game affect his mindset and the way he goes about his batting. He is always one way or no way.
CC: And bowling to someone like your compatriot Kieron Pollard or a Shahid Afridi. How difficult is that?
SN: It is very difficult. The next ball you bowl your very best ball and it can go many miles into the stands. At the end of the day, you back your ability. Once you have the self belief, you try to end up on top.
CC: You’ve also bowled to Sachin Tendulkar and got him out a couple of times. What was that experience like?
SN: First time bowling to Sachin, I hadn’t played a lot of international cricket and bowling to someone with runs that no one would even think about making, it was a pleasure that I had. It was very nice bowling to Sachin and hope someday the opportunity comes again.
CC: How has the buildup been like for Guyana Amazon Warriors?
SN: We have a good chance of going all the way this year. Having said that, I think you have to start from the very first game. You take all the positives from the previous year and try to make the best of it. At the end of the day, any team could win the tournament. It all matters on who plays better cricket on the day. We have to take care of the little things and the big picture will fall in place. Speaking to the guys, I think everyone is keen and ready for the first game.
CC: You belong to Trinidad and Tobago, how is it going to a different place and representing them on the Caribbean stage?
SN: It is a bit different. In the Caribbean, you play for with your country, unlike in Australia or England, where there are states and counties. But, as an international cricketer, you have to adapt to the situations. The tournament needs you to and adapt to different groups of people and the setups. You go as an international player and make the best use of it.
Sunil Narine returns to the Guyana Amazon Warriors for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2014. The CPL 2014 begins on the July 11, 2014 in Grenada – for more info visit CPLT20.com
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)