Robin Singh: ‘Don’t blame CPL for decline of WI cricket’

Robin Singh has coached franchises around the globe in countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, West Indies and has been closely associated with the game in Hong Kong and the United States. He is also the assistant coach of Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

"There is money to be made in the US, they will tell you that it will benefit cricket in the region but it won’t benefit unless you pump in money. You need to create infrastructure," Robin Singh says.   -  K. V. Srinivasan

Robin Singh is a seasoned campaigner when it comes to coaching in T20 cricket. He has coached franchises around the globe in countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, West Indies and has been closely associated with the game in Hong Kong and the United States. He is also the assistant coach of Mumbai Indians in the IPL. In the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), he is guiding Karaikudi Kaadai. He spoke to Sportstar on a range of issues affecting cricket.

Will the US cricket benefit from the two T20 matches between India and West Indies?

There is money to be made in the US, they will tell you that it will benefit cricket in the region but it won’t benefit unless you pump in money. You need to create infrastructure. The price of each ticket was around USD100 and we all know who is going to earn the money.

Do you think CPL and other franchise cricket leagues are having a detrimental effect on West Indies Test cricket?

India put up the Test matches when CPL was on. Even the Big Bash (Australia’s domestic T20 competition) goes on during Australia’s Test season but no one criticises them.

The IPL already has a period of two months where everything is in place, all the players are available. So you can’t blame another board or association for trying to make money. WICB knew fully well when the CPL was on. It is the fault of West Indies board and the Indian board (BCCI) for putting the matches when the CPL was on.

When you know there is a tournament, you should try your best to avoid another series so that best players are available and I can assure you if you pick the players, they will play for their countries.

Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, was part of our team (Barbados Tridents) and picked up a slight injury, we rested him because we wanted him fit for West Indies.

On fielding gaining importance and improvement in India’s fielding standards…

Fielding has gained importance over the years. Today if you can’t field, you can’t get into the team. You have to be really exceptional to get into the team on the basis of your batting or bowling. People expect you to be a good fielder these days.

The Indian team today is on par with the South Africans and Australians. Most of the guys are in their 20s and if you can’t field in your 20s then you can never field. Emphasis on fitness has also helped. You have to be fearless to be a good fielder and you can learn that between the age of 13 and 19. You should not be scared of diving or getting hurt. Also to be a top fielder, I feel you need to be a good athlete.

Who is the best fielder in the world, and also name an Indian bowler, who can also field well?

AB de Villiers is the best for me when he is fit. Amongst the Indian bowlers, I like Umesh Yadav. He is fast and can move quickly. He has a low centre of gravity and a good arm as well.

On Mumbai Indians having a battery of coaches, and whether two months are enough for a coach to make an impact…

Every team has a lot of coaches so I feel it’s unfair to blame Mumbai Indians. If you look at CSK, they had Fleming, Steve Rixon and Andy Bichel. It’s the names that matter, since Mumbai had big names with the likes of Bond, Ponting and others, the commentators and experts make a fuss about it. Two months is a lot of time, and with so many coaches, the work gets streamlined and is professionally done so it’s a lot easier. In the end, it’s up to the players to buy into things and learn. In fact, with the IPL, you no longer require a pre-season camp. IPL is the best pre-season camp for players. You have the best coaches, physios available to you, probably even better than the Indian setup.

Your philosophy of T20 cricket?

T20 is not just about a strong team. It’s about people playing together and understanding the roles they can play. How quickly they can incline with my methodology is also important for me as a coach. For me, my team has to play to win. You can’t have any friends while you’re playing.