Bangalore: Sunil Narine, spearhead of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), spoke to The Telegraph before the controversy involving him and the West Indies Cricket Board.
Narine couldn’t comment on Friday night’s development as KKR have “directed” him to keep mum.
Q Three seasons on, you’re still flummoxing batsmen. Are you yourself pleasantly surprised that they can’t read you?
A (Grins) A little bit surprised that I continue to get so much success. With abundant technology, it’s assumed that batsmen will quickly sort you out... My job is to delay that... I suppose I have gone from strength to strength.
[Narine picked up 24 wickets in 2012, 22 last year and has already taken 20 wickets in IPL VII.]
The opposition keeps your four overs out of the scoring equation...
It’s good to know that opponents respect you. But even if that respect is there, I have to do my job. That doesn’t change. I’m paid to deliver.
You’ve set the benchmark for spin bowling in T20s...
Don’t think so. All spinners get the respect which is due.
Another striking feature is that you haven’t changed... You remain calm and show little emotion. How do you manage it?
Everybody goes about things in their manner... Maybe, I behave differently. I like taking things easy, that’s a personality trait.
You don’t give the impression that pressure sits on you. It’s quite remarkable. What’s your explanation?
Pressure is there, whether I’m playing for the West Indies, for KKR or for any other team or franchise... It would be nice not to be under pressure, but one gets accustomed. It’s a mental thing.
How do you look back on three seasons in the IPL and with KKR?
I had a dream start, in 2012... I’m thankful to KKR for buying me at the mini auction that year and retaining me this time... The franchise has made me feel at home away from home. Means a lot for an overseas player.
It must have helped that you’ve played under the same captain — Gautam Gambhir... What’s the understanding you share with him?
Gambhir has a good understanding of how to use me... Having the same captain is helpful, for he understands your thinking and you get to understand his expectations. I’ve grown as a bowler and can adapt to changing situations.
You’ve been sharing the KKR dressing room with one of the legends of modern-day cricket — Jacques Kallis. What has your experience been?
No matter what the situation, Kallis’s approach doesn’t change. He’s so focused... It’s an experience learning from him and Gautam.
What’s the routine you follow by way of preparation?
Try to keep it as simple as possible. I’m a bit laid-back, so if I’m doing well, I just do the basics at training. If I’m not feeling 100 per cent and a big game is coming up, then I go that extra bit at nets.
Has the IPL become more competitive?
Every year, you find some new team doing rather well... The Rajasthan Royals in 2013 and the Kings XI Punjab this year... It’s come to a stage where you can’t be sure of getting the two points off any opponent.
Were you under a lot of pressure when KKR lost four matches in succession?
Not really... We have a strong bunch of guys, which made it easier for me. We needed momentum and that has carried us to a record eight wins on the trot in a single edition.
What turned it around for KKR?
A team effort, that’s my belief.
Bowling at the Eden...
It’s motivating... With the crowd chanting ‘KKR, KKR, KKR’... You don’t want to disappoint the thousands who’re so passionate about the franchise.
Have any of the Indian spinners impressed you in this IPL?
I don’t know all their names, but KXIP’s Akshar Patel has been successful, which is good for Indian cricket... Also, the 42-year-old (Pravin) Tambe... He’s proved that you’re never too old to play and never too old to taste success! Tambe’s has been an incredible story. However, if a 42-year-old is successful, then it also means that the younger guys are not doing as much.
So, what would you tell young spinners?
Don’t give up even when batsmen keep coming at you... They’ll go at the spinners, not so much at the fast bowlers... Be motivated and ambitious... You can reach places then.
What’s needed to succeed?
Your intent comes into play... Just how much do you want to be successful... How hard do you want it? Much of it is in the mind, so the mindset is important... Give it all and wait for the results. You could be surprised, pleasantly.
Are you guided by a motto?
Life is what you make it... Put in the hard work, put in the energy. Who knows what can happen.
But success shouldn’t get to the head...
Indeed... No matter how good you are, you remain a human being and have to stay humble.
Your West Indies debut was in December 2011... What have the years taught you?
I’ve learnt to stay humble and not get too ahead of the game. If you get too far ahead, then the game tends to bring you down very quickly... By staying calm and humble, one stands a better chance of success. That, at least, is my view... Once you’re successful, other things come along.
What about the times when the West Indies have overlooked you?
Nothing comes easy and it’s for the selectors to decide. If you’re dropped, you have to keep performing at the other levels and hope for the best.
Obviously, you’d like to be a regular across the three formats for the West Indies...
I’d love to be successful in Test cricket (as well). I can only give my best... If that’s not good enough for Test cricket, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing now.
Is there an urge on your part, too, to help get the West Indies back to their position of dominance?
Yeah. We have to make our own destiny and stop living in the past.
Success in your debut season in the IPL helped you to your first Test cap. The demands are rather different...
My debut (at Edgbaston) was in very cold conditions and it was tough... The basics don’t change, but you have to be patient in Test cricket... You must have the ability to concentrate for long periods... You’ve got to keep doing the same thing over and over again. Clearly, you’ve got to be strong in the mind... In limited overs cricket, there’s never a ‘dead’ moment. It’s different in Test matches.
Will you elaborate?
In Test cricket, you may not get a wicket every four overs... It could take 15-20 overs, so your mindset has to be such to accept that reality. Of course, on a good day, it could be different even in Test cricket.
The soccer World Cup isn’t many days away... Is there a team you root for?
France... I’ve been supporting them from the time I saw Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry play... They fired my imagination.
Finally... Today, who is your favourite player?
(Grins) Lionel Messi. Good day or bad, he remains the same: Simple... I find that to be endearing.