Ace spinner and Indian cricketer, who was part of the 2011 winning World Cup team, Piyush Chawla spoke with The Daily Guardian.
Q: How has this lockdown been for you? What have you been doing for the last couple of months?
A: It has been tough to stay at home for so long. But I never got so much time with my family before. I am enjoying spending time with them.
Q: We are in the beginning of May. The IPL was supposed to start. You specially look forward towards the IPL as that is one tournament in which you have done exceptionally well.
A: The importance of IPL is huge and I am missing it. More than IPL, I miss being on the ground. It’s a high profile tournament and as a player you get challenged throughout on the field which I love.
Q: You were going to play with the Chennai Super Kings in 2020, under the captaincy of M.S. Dhoni. You have played under his captaincy before. Were you looking forward to that as well?
A: Definitely I was looking forward to play for CSK under Mahi Bhai. We all know what kind of a team CSK is and the reputation it has. The kind of fan following they get with the support. The way MSD leads the team is always something to look forward to. Being a part of CSK is always nice.
Q: You have played under so many captains, who’s been your favourite and for what reason?
A: To name one would be very difficult. I have played under MSD and Gautam Gambhir. Both are very different. One is aggressive and the other one is very calm. These two are my favourites… They are different individuals and have a different way of thinking. One thing they both have similar, which is very important for the team, is that they believe in the player. It’s not like you have two bad games and they will take you out, they will give you longer runs and believe in you.
Q: You are the second youngest Test debutant for India. You were 17 years and 75 days when you made your debut for the Indian Test team. How important is it for every country that plays Test cricket to keep the tradition and culture of Test cricket alive? There are many experiments that are being done, you are playing under the light, you are playing with a pink ball. Is all this necessary to keep the game alive in its purest form?
A: As you said, it’s the purest form of the game. Test cricket is something a cricketer looks forward to play. Test cricket tests yours cricketing skills and therefore is called test cricket. Pink balls and playing under lights are just experiments, but five days of testing cricket is fun. Fiveday games are when you are tested.
Q: What are your thoughts on what is going around in the world, the Covid-19 fight?
A: These are tough times we all are going through. I can just urge everyone to stay at home and stay safe. Just pray that this gets over soon. Looking at the current situation it looks like it will take some more time.
Q: How do you think India has done in the fight against Covid-19, if you compare us to other countries from around the world?
A: We are doing very well, if you see the numbers right now at a lot of places in India and compare it to other countries. The number of people we have—the second largest population in the world. Keeping all these facts in mind, we have done a commendable job.
Q: What do you think will be the impact of the pandemic on the sporting world? The Olympics have been postponed, the NBA is not being played, everything has been put off.
A: Sports can wait. Right now, the most important aspect is to go back to a normal life, the way things were before the lockdown. It will affect sports as it is affecting everything else. I’ve not though about it. Once things go back to normal is when we will put our minds to it.
Q: What about cricket? IPL has been postponed. T-20 World Cup, which was supposed to happen in Australia, will also be under a lot of cloud. A lot of cricket will be missed this year.
A: Cricket, IPL, World Cup can wait. The most important thing right now is concentrating on our heath and being aware of our surroundings. And make sure we and the people around us are safe. To make sure all of us get out of this safely.
Q: As a cricketer, do you worry about your fitness? You can go to the gym at home, but net practice, fast bowling is something that is considered sacrosanct in a cricketer’s regimen. Is that a cause for worry?
A: We are all worried about our fitness. Not getting any kind of practice is worrying. But getting back to cricket with all the experience which all the cricketers have, one month of practice should be good. Once this is all over, we will need one month to 45 days to get back in shape to play.
Q: What have you been doing to keep fit?
A: I have a few weights at home, I do those. I am talking to trainers online as that helps. I have to give one and a half hours to myself and with so much time right now, it’s not a problem to take some time to work out in a day.
Q: The 2011 World Cup team— obviously there are a lot of reasons to bond over what happened years ago. Are you in touch with all your mates and teammates from then?
A: I am not in touch with everyone, but I am in touch with most of them on and off. I speak to Yuvi Bhai and Mahi Bhai. We keep talking about cricket on and off. Nine years is a very long association to have with someone. A lot of things have, of course, changed. There were players who were not even married at the time but now have kids. There will always be more topics to be discussed.
Q: In today’s time, with the current Indian cricket team, will we be able to replicate what you guys did in 2011? Who do you think is a formidable spinner in the Indian team today?
A: The team is going very well and is doing a good job. Chahal is very good, Kuldeep is a skillful bowler. These two will be very good.
Q: How have we done as a team when it comes to Test ranks? We have already lost to Australia, we did maintain that crown for a very long time. How do you think we have fared in all the avenues of cricket in the last couple of years?
A: In Test cricket we are doing well. Unfortunately, we lost the World Cup in the semis, but that is ok—it’s a part and parcel of the game. But as a team we are doing very well. It’s amazing to see them play. Earlier the team used to depend on select players, who used to shape the game. For the past 10 to 12 years, it’s been a team game.
Q: We saw your former captain Gautam Gambhir join politics. You are not retired as of now. But once you do are there any aspirations to join politics?
A: It’s too early to say anything right now, because I’ve still got five to six years of cricket left in me. Honestly speaking, I have not though about it. If I could do some good towards the country or where I come from, I would definitely do that.
Q: Any skills you have picked up during this lockdown?
A: Well, to be honest, my sleep cycle has become very good. Earlier I was sleeping six hours a day, now I sleep about 10 to 12 hours, which is very good for me.
Q: What message would you like to convey to your fans who were eager to watch you play in the IPL?
A: The only message I would convey to everyone is, stay at home and stay safe. The most important thing is to help the people around you. From cricketing point of view, once life is back to normal, we will see you on the field.
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Ishant, Rohit ruled out of first two Tests: reports
As the news of Ishant and Rohit being ruled out of the first two Tests reverberates, Australian
players seem all geared up to seek revenge for the last series defeat Down Under.
Ishant Sharma and Rohit Sharma have been reportedly ruled out of the first two Tests of the upcoming four-match BorderGavaskar Trophy between India and Australia slated to begin from December 17 in
ESPNcricinfo confirmed the development and stated the hopes of both the players to take part in the last two Tests hinges on “swift and decisive action” from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
To be in contention for the third Test which begins January 7 next year in Sydney, Ishant, who has regained bowling fitness, will have to board a plane almost immediately, the report further said.
“If there is a T20 game and he needs to just bowl four overs, Ishant is good to go immediately, but for him to get back to Test-match fitness, he needs four weeks of proper bowling still,” a BCCI source was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
Rohit, on the other hand, is currently at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) recovering a hamstring injury he suffered during the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
However, according to the report, the batsman is understood to be a while away from full fitness. He can be cleared travel only in the second week of December and will need two weeks of further rehabilitation after which a final assessment can be made.
As Ishant Sharma and Rohit Sharma have been reportedly ruled out of the first two Tests, Australian players, all geared up, are hustling and bustling with preperations.
Australian players who were involved in the previous home Test series defeat to India are motivated to make amends, says Test captain captain Tim Paine. Australia lost to India 2-1 in 2018-19 — their first ever series defeat to an Asian side in the longest format of the game on home soil.
“I know that it drives a lot of the guys that were involved in that and I certainly know Steve (Smith) and David (Warner) are looking forward to coming back and showing just how good they are as well,” Paine told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio.
“Everyone is absolutely pumped. The key is going to be last time we didn’t get enough runs, this time, I
think a few of our players have spoken about i t . I f we can make their fast b Australia batsman Steve Smith has said that his ability to start well against India has resulted in a good record against the arch-rivals, adding that he loves to stand up and be counted in a big series like the Ashes or the BorderGavaskar Trophy.
Smith has an exceptional record against India, scoring 1,429 runs in 10 Tests at an average of 84.05.
“The first Test and first game I have (always) started very well against India, been able to get in a bit of rhythm. It has then helped me throughout the rest of the series. It has probably something to do with it. Other than that, I am not really sure (why I have a good record against India),” Smith told reporters on Tuesday
Beating Oz in Tests a litmus test for India: R.P. Singh
The Virat Kohli-led Indian team is “far ahead” of Australia in the 50-over and T20 formats, but it will have to think out of the box in the Test series to beat them as it will “get a fight” from the hosts, says former India speedster Rudra Pratap Singh.
The all-format tour begins with a three-match ODI series on Friday. It will be followed by three T20Is, and a four-match Test series, to be played in December-January.
“In T20Is and ODIs, I don’t think there is a probability of Australia winning. Our team is doing very well, and we are far ahead of Australia in these two formats. But India will get a fight in the Test series. It is a different format and we will have to work hard and differently,” Singh told .
“The chances of India winning are higher than Australia’s, but it will be an equal fight. I think the bowling departments of both teams are equal, as Australia have pacers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. But I think India has the upper hand in batting department,” he opined.
Singh, 34, said Indian bowling unit has the wherewithal to surprise Australia.
“Our bowling department, including Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, is very good and it will surely surprise the Australians. Even our bench is very good. And if you look at the team balance, India is a much better balanced team,” the former left-arm speedster pointed out.
While the Indian batting line-up comprises Kohli, Rohit Sharma (available probably only for the last two Tests), KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, besides others, the bowlers include Bumrah, Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, and Mohammed Siraj. And Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, and Ravindra Jadeja are the spinners.
“Playing in Australia is special, considering their crowds, atmosphere, and pitches, including drop-in pitches. It is not that we will fight only with our bowlers, but they will have to fight with our bowlers as well, because the weather in Australia is different,” pointed out the man who had memorable tour of Australia in 2007-08.
Singh, who captured two four-wicket hauls in Test matches on the 2007-08 tour, said in Perth, bowlers get a lot of help from the wind.
“In Perth, for example, the wind is crucial; it (Fremantle Doctor) comes at a certain time in a day, closer to the evening, and that helps bowlers. So, you have to calculate all these factors while playing there. The pitch is quite different from the outfield there.
You cannot play traditional cricket and win; you have to think out of the box in Australia (to win). Our batting department is also good. But we will need a collective effort, and think out of the box, and plan and prepare accordingly. We will surely beat them; this probability is very high,” he said.
Singh said he enjoyed playing against Australia in Australia.
“Australia is the country I would place at the number one spot for the joy of playing cricket against.” Singh Concluded.
“In T20Is and ODIs, I don’t think there is a probability of Australia winning. Our team is doing very well, and we are far ahead of Australia in these two formats. But India will get a fight in the Test series.”
PLAYERS’ WELFARE IS ALWAYS IN MIND, SAYS CRICKET AUSTRALIA BOSS
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cricket Australia (CA), Nick Hockley has said that the cricket board is aware of the concerns expressed by players like David Warner and others about the problems faced while returning from foreign tours and entering quarantine and added that the board is taking every possible measure to ensure the players are looked after well.
“I can’t comment on individual players or future tours. It is a season like no other. We are conscious that the players have been in a different environment for some months and we’re working very closely with team management, with the players to make sure that their well-being is looked after,” Hockley said in reply to a question from IANS while interacting with the Indian media. He, however, refused to elaborate on the topic.
Warner had, on Monday, told the media that touring overseas would be difficult for the Australian players if the Covid-19 restrictions and the resulting quarantine continues. Every time players come from outside they have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Hockley also expected a huge crowd response for the Pink Ball Test. “Now that the borders are opening, we are hoping that there will be a huge inflow of crowds from various states into the venue.”
Hockley said that Virat Kohli’s absence from the last three Tests will have no financial bearing for Cricket Australia. Kohli’s presence in the limited overs series and first Test, he felt, is delighting them enough.
“We are obviously delighted for Kohli and Anushka on the imminent birth of their first child. We absolutely respect their decision to honour BCCI in terms of granting paternity leave. So, I think we’re just delighted that he’s going to be here to captain the side in the limited overs series and the first test while leading the side. He’ll bring competitive leadership that we’ve seen during the last series and that we’ve been accustomed to watching during India’s performances all around the world. So, no I don’t think it will have a financial bearing on it.”
Australia batsman David Warner has made it clear that it will be very difficult to tour abroad regularly if the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
Speaking to the media on Monday, four days before the India-Australia One-day International series starts, Warner said that the past six months have been challenging with the family not by his side and the Australian players will have to be brave enough to voice this concern to selectors and coach.
“It will be very difficult. I won’t put them in a situation where I have to do 14-day quarantine at home. The next 12 months are going to be very difficult. There are definitely going to be times when you come home and want to spend time with your family. But you have 14-day quarantine that you have to do beforehand, so you are almost out of conversation. So, we will have to speak to coach and selectors. Each individual is going to be brave and put their hand up and say it will be difficult to do that,” the dashing opener said.
Australia pace bowler Mitchell Starc recently shifted to Big Bash Village in Sydney Olympic Park to be with wife Alyssa Healy who is playing in the Big Bash. Starc decided to spend a week with her and train.
Hockley added that they are expecting this series to be played in front of large crowds as Australia has managed to control the pandemic very well.
“I think this series is of great importance to world cricket and to Australian cricket. One of the features of the pandemic has been how the international cricket community has supported each other. It is testament to the cooperation that we have been able to get the international cricket back up and running safe way. What is particularly exciting about this series is that Australia has managed the Covid situation very well so we are particularly excited that this series will be played in front of large crowds,” Hockley said.
The series begins on November 27 with three ODIs, followed by three T20Is and four Tests, the first of which will start at Adelaide from December 17.
Australian batsman David Warner recently said that it would be very difficult to tour abroad regularly if the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
BARCELONA’S GRIEZMANN DENIES RIFT WITH MESSI
Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has dismissed talk of a rift with team mate Lionel Messi and said he had nothing to do with recent comments about the Argentine forward from his former agent and his uncle.
Earlier this month, Griezmann’s former agent Eric Olhats said Messi’s “reign of terror” had made life difficult for Griezmann, while the French forward’s uncle said it was not easy to play in the same club as the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Messi hit back last week, saying he was tired of being blamed for problems at Barcelona. Griezmann said he could no longer remain silent on the matter.
“I have been putting up with comments for a long while and now it’s time to say enough,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with Movistar.
“My agent is my sister, but she doesn’t speak. Neither do my parents. As no one speaks, Eric offers an opinion but that can do a lot of damage and create doubts about my relationship with Leo. Leo knows I have a lot of respect for him. I learn from him.
“My uncle doesn’t know how football works. A journalist wants a phrase out of you … I told Leo I have nothing to do with them. I don’t speak to them.”
RETURN OF FANS BRINGS NEW SET OF HEADACHES FOR FOOTBALL CLUBS
Fans can return to English football stadiums next week, ending an eight month absence due to Covid restrictions, but while the government’s decision to open the turnstiles has been welcomed it also presents a series of new headaches for clubs.
The first hurdle clubs must clear will come on Thursday when the government announces which tiers of restrictions given regions in England will be placed in.
Clubs which fall into tier three areas, which contains the strictest restrictions, will still not be allowed to let any fans into their grounds.
Only those in the lowest risk, tier one, region will be allowed to have the maximum of 4,000 fans while the middle-ranked tier 2 areas will be restricted to up to 2,000 fans.
“So some clubs will have fans backing them in home fixtures and others will have empty stadiums with no fans! Unfair competition or not??” asked former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, who is co-owner of League Two (fourth division) Salford City.
Even those clubs that are allowed to have fans in stadiums from Wednesday Dec. 2, will need to have ensured that local safety advisory groups have been consulted and given the go ahead.
Clubs would also have to bring stadium staff, including safety officers, some of whom may have been furloughed, legally back to work in time for the games. REUTERS
Despite his father’s demise bowler Mohammad Siraj stays in Australia
Going into the series against Australia, India pacer Mohammad Siraj has said that he aims to fulfill his father’s dream of playing for the country. Siraj’s father passed away on Friday, but the pacer who has earned his first Test call-up decided to stay back in Australia and not return home.
“It is a very big loss for me, my father always supported me. It was his dream that I keep on playing for India and make the country proud. I just want to fulfill my father’s dream and that is why I keep on thinking that my father will always be there with me,” Siraj told BCCI.TV. “In this situation, every team member has supported me and it really felt nice. Virat Bhai also told me not to worry and he asked me to stay strong. I talked to my mother and she told me to stay back in Australia and fulfill my father’s dream,” he added.
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