The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ĎI donít focus on what others expect of me... I focus on my own expectationsí
- I would like another opportunity in Test cricket as Iím a better player now, says Michael Bevan

For years, Michael Bevan admired Ian and Greg Chappell. In recent times, he has himself earned a huge following which cuts across boundaries. In fact, the limited overs game hasnít seen a better Ďfinisherí ó itís more than reflected in his average (55.41 in 219 matches, 6,594 runs). But no matter how busy Bevan is while batting, he has that unhurried demeanour off the field. Bevan, who made his debut in 1993-94, spoke to The Telegraph on Saturday evening.

The following are excerpts

Q Every team would give anything to have you in the one-day XI...

A (Grins) Well, I probably make a difference batting down the order... Iíve got a role to fulfil... Iíve got a fair idea of what gives me the best chance of trying to help the team win...

But, has this one-day-cricketer-only label affected you'

Did affect me five-six years ago, but Iím over that now. People are always going to have an opinion but, then, I value my own opinion the most. Really, personally, I donít see myself as just a limited overs cricketer. That, for me, is important.

Whatís the thought-process like when Michael Bevan takes strike'

I make a decision and stay true... Basically, itís a question of working out what you do well and what you donít. That done, youíve got to be consistent ó thatís what I aim at. Indeed, the more flexible you are, the lesser the pressure. The manner of handling pressure determines who wins and who loses... I mean, you canít have a rigid game plan.

Surely, you have landed in choking situations...

But, I donít think of pressure, donít get overwhelmed. In any case, if youíre consistent, you donít worry... Moreover, I donít try and focus on what others expect out of me. Instead, I focus on my own expectations.

Given that every team has a strategy, how flexible can an individual be'

Itís pretty much an individual thing... Itís all about meeting both the team and individual goals...

There was a time when you got promoted to No.4... Whatís your preferred position'

No.4... For a middle order batsman, thatís the best position... At No.6, the opportunities are limited, but my approach doesnít change.

Rotating the strike calls for much running. Is there a secret behind your fitness'

(Grins again) At this age (33), Iíve begun to feel the wear and tear... Itís par for the course, though...Strength-work, aerobics, maintenance... Today, the Australian team is very professional about staying fit and, then, the support staff is excellent. Thereís no secret.

Does your intensity diminish when the earlier batsmen have put Australia into a position of much strength'

My role has changed over the past two-three years... Now, Australia have a very good one-day team with such a quality attack... If we field first, for instance, our bowlers can restrict to 200-220 and, then, the top half can knock off the runs. Still, as crunch moments can come along, Iíve got to make sure I do the best I can at No.6.

Is life easy or difficult being part of such an outstanding team'


Despite possessing such a fantastic strike-rate, do you envy anybody'

Not envy, but I do admire quite a few players... The ones who didnít start being great but, with experience, have acquired that label... Somebody like Steve Waugh, who adjusted both as a cricketer and as a person... Somebody like Matthew Hayden or Andy Bichel... I respect the ones who have gone through tough periods to emerge strong... (After a pause) I believe itís important to admire teammates... Helps team spirit.

Changes in the laws apart, has the one-day game itself changed in the last decade'

Players have been conscious about improving and, where batters are concerned, the shot-selection has got better. Of course, thereís that element of pre-determination... We have set the bench mark and, today, itís a question of some other team putting up its hand and saying Ďright, weíre challenging youí.

With inputs from a range of specialists, hasnít cricket become easy'

As I see it, the players have become more aware of the areas they need to improve. Beyond that, I donít have an opinion.

What are the dos and doníts'

Itís important to have a team goal... Then, from an individual perspective, youíve got to be honest with yourself... What are the issues to be addressed' Where is improvement called for' Also, on the field, youíve got to be strong. The better a teamís fielding, the lesser the runs to chase.

Itís been almost six years since you last played a Test (versus South Africa, in Sydney)...

Iíd like another opportunity as Iím a better player... Looking back, I donít think I was prepared for Test cricket when I made my debut (mid Nineties)... There were aspects which needed to be addressed and Iíve worked hard... Yet, Iím pretty much resigned to the fact that another (Test) opportunity may not come my way.

How would you describe this wait'

Actually, itís been a mix... Initially, trying to get back was a challenge... Then, obviously, thereís been that frustration... At this point, Iím not fazed ó one way or the other.

The final question: What have you learnt in nearly a decade of international cricket'

To operate better... Iím more aware of both my strengths and weaknesses... Iíve appreciated the importance of improving and, over the years, have learnt to enjoy my environment...

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