West Indies fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell made a splash at the World Cup in England last year, picking 12 wickets at 8.25 apiece. His form and the in-demand left-arm angle that he brings to the game were rewarded when he bagged a fat paycheck at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 auctions, where Kings XI Punjab bought him for ₹8.5 crore.
And Cottrell can’t wait to bring one of the most familiar wicket celebrations in the game today to the IPL.
“I’ve got some goals. First and foremost, show the fans plenty of salutes (laughs)!” Cottrell said ahead of featuring in the Carribean Premier League (CPL) where he will play for the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.
The 2020 edition of the IPL is scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from September 19 to November 8, and the tournament’s governing council meeting on August 2 is likely to address questions on Covid-19 testing and bio-bubbles.
But Cottrell isn’t too worried about quarantine, thanks to his “best friend” on tour. “I know there’s talk about quarantining the players, but to tell you the truth, I’m not too worried about it because I’ve got my PlayStation with me,” said Cottrell, laughing.
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“It [IPL happening] is great news for all cricketers and fans. The safety of my family is of utmost importance to me. We’ve been informed of the measures that will be in place and I’ll follow all guidelines,” he added.
The teams are slated to travel between three cities – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah – in the UAE. With the West Asian country all set to host the Twenty20 league for the second time – the first 20 matches of the 2014 tournament were played there because of general elections in India – Cottrell is looking forward to the exciting challenge.
“Kings XI have never lost a match there. We played five games in the UAE in the 2014 edition and won them all. So, I would love to contribute to extending that record,” said Cottrell.
He added, “Plus I am looking forward to being captained by K. L. Rahul, who I’ve met on a couple of occasions... We’ve talked over the phone. He is a wonderful guy. He is a gentleman of the game. I am also looking forward to working with fellow fast bowler Mohammed Shami.”
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The Kings XI management has been “checking” on Cottrell and his family during lockdown. “It is a wonderful bunch. During the crisis, they would send me a message, tell me to keep my head up. As a professional cricketer, the onus is on us to have a certain level of fitness which consists of training with intensity, working out in the gym and bowling in the nets...
“I feel good about myself and my body, then there is the added hunger to succeed in the IPL, which motivates me. My friends, family and fans are standing by me and that’s all I need.”
Cottrell feels playing in front of empty stands in the UAE – should matches be played behind closed doors – will not be a problem. “Don’t worry, I’ll bring salutes to the fans watching me on the television,” he said with a laugh. “Also, there are often empty stadiums in domestic matches. I am only concerned about the batsman at the other end and taking his wicket.
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“But I’m introducing something special on Twitter and on my website to engage with kids and fans so that they can be involved in the fun. I enjoy watching young kids emulate my salute... I may be having a bad day, but when I look at all the love my fans send me on social media and through e-mails, it always puts a smile on my face.”