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.