On-field struggles and off-field fun
It hasn’t been a great week for the Chennai Super Kings in the Karbonn Smart Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa. Two defeats from our opening two games – to the Sydney Sixers and the Lions – and as I write this, we face a must-win game against the Mumbai Indians.
Our first game was against the Sixers and while it was a disappointing result, I think they are among the favourites for the title. I really think they are probably the most balanced and dangerous team in the tournament. They have great pace bowling and an experienced batting line-up, so they will be difficult to beat for all the teams.
I said before the tournament that how you play the new ball would be crucial in this competition, and that’s proved the case if you look at the fact that the Indian sides have struggled, while the South African and Australian sides have done well.
Quite simply, those teams are used to playing on wickets with a bit more pace and bounce, and that’s what we’ve got at the moment. It’s going to take the Indian teams a bit more time to adjust to the wickets, but unfortunately there isn’t the luxury of that in this tournament as you could be out before you know it.
From a personal point of view, I’ve been happy with my form in the first two games – 43 from 25 balls against the Sixers and 25 from 20 against the Lions.
My priority before the start of the tournament was just to put myself in line for selection and fortunately I got the nod at number three, with Murali Vijay and Mike Hussey at the top of the order. That was against the Sixers, but I knew that I might lose out against the Lions, because the balance of our side was going to change. I knew they wanted to play an extra seamer, and they did with Albie Morkel getting picked. Fortunately, the selectors went with me over Hussey, which was a real confidence boost, being selected ahead of ‘Mr Cricket’.
Off the field, there hasn’t been much to talk of, although I can say that my Super Kings teammates really love South Africa. Most of the guys are fairly wealthy through cricket, but they can’t believe just how much more wealthy they are here, with their dollars going even further here. They also think it’s really beautiful here, which we obviously take for granted.
We’ve done some nice things together as a squad. The first week I took coach Stephen Fleming to my home golf course in Pretoria, which was great. We also visited Robben Island when we were in Cape Town. It was my second time there, but it was good to go back and remember. It’s a good reminder of how things were not so long ago, and what the likes of Nelson Mandela endured during Apartheid.
I must be honest, I did feel a little ashamed, although I’m happy to say that that is in the past. Cape Town is also an amazing place in terms of lifestyle, and some of the guys really enjoyed kicking back with a glass of wine in the evening. Ahead of us is our Durban trip, and the Indian guys are looking forward to that because they get such good support there.
In terms of characters, the one that stands out is Doug Bollinger. He’s a real ‘moon child’, and by that I mean he’s completely nuts. He’s always the one mouthing off at training sessions and is a real character. Sometimes it’s good banter, but sometimes you just want to switch the ear drums off.
Now we’re in a must-win situation. It’s been quite disappointing, the way things have gone for us, particularly as we’re a team accustomed to success. The Super Kings are normally slow starters, but like I said, that excuse won’t wash in this tournament. We could be out before we know it.
So, we’ve just got to step it up a level and respond well to the pressure. That’s usually when we play our best cricket.
Will let you know how that goes.