KKR speed gun Lockie Ferguson's key to success

New Zealand and KKR quick Ferguson likes to send the stumps cartwheeling with the bails lighting up like fireworks.

New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson in action against Australia in the Perth Test in 2019. “The Black Caps is an amazing outfit with players who work very hard. These are exciting times to be part of NZC but I do want to play Test cricket,” says the fast bowler.   -  AP

Lockie Ferguson is obsessed with bowling fast and getting his yorkers right. The New Zealand fast bowler, who made a comeback in the T20I series against Bangladesh after a long injury layoff, is now in Chennai for the Indian Premier League.

Ferguson picked up six wickets in five outings for Kolkata Knight Riders in the previous season. Besides plotting dismissals, he is keen on studying the conditions in India better to prepare for the T20 World Cup later this year.

In a chat with Sportstar, the World Cup 2019 star opened up on the learnings from IPL, Test dreams and more.

You have missed a few games since last November due to a partial stress fracture. How prepared are you now?

Frustrating for sure, I hadn’t had a stress fracture since I was 17. I think if you look across world sports after the Covid lockdown, the players were playing high intensity and from there, the body goes away and there is suddenly a high risk of injury. Unfortunately, I was one of the casualties. But I am back playing. I played my first game for the Parnell Peaches, shoutout to the team [before the T20Is against Bangladesh]. I am hoping to get back to 100 percent soon. You have the IPL now, and then, the T20 World Cup. It is a step-by-step process.

Express bowlers often run into the risk of getting injured. How can one maintain the body as well as speed?

I think it is pretty personal. When I was getting injured, I had to adjust things. I could not just run in and bowl like a tearaway quick. If you keep getting injured all the time, it is frustrating and you want to stay in the park longer. You have to work out how you can. I will never tell a bowler not to bowl quickly.

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What have been the learning points from the KKR dressing room and training sessions?

The IPL has been fantastic. For many reasons, it can be challenging for a cricketer as you are away from your known circles. I do have Baz [Brendon McCullum] as head coach, but I don’t have the usual set of people I play with. I have to deal with the ups and downs when away from the close ones. But you are rubbing shoulders with the greatest players. I remember Pat Cummins once asking me how I bowl a slower ball. I told him, “You are the No. 1 Test bowler in the world, I am certainly not.”

Lockie Ferguson of Kolkata Knight Riders celebrates the fall of a wicket with his team-mates. “We have an occasional drink after the match with Morgs [Eoin Morgan], Baz [Brendon McCullum] and DK [Dinesh Karthik] around. We talk about the game and there is no other place in the world where you can get that sort of feedback. There are pros and cons but nothing better than playing to a packed Eden Gardens.   -  Sportzpics / IPL

 

The feedback from team-mates must be precious...

We have an occasional drink after the match with Morgs [Eoin Morgan], Baz and DK [Dinesh Karthik] around. We talk about the game and there is no other place in the world where you can get that sort of feedback. There are pros and cons, but nothing better than playing to a packed Eden Gardens. And bowling those yorkers, I love it!

The knowledge gained from this edition of the IPL will perhaps help you when you return to India for the T20 World Cup...

The IPL is fantastic because we will be playing in stadiums where we are likely to play the World Cup games. That experience is invaluable. Not all the players from New Zealand are here. Being one of the players in the IPL, I can provide feedback — about the conditions and what worked and what didn’t. You have the wealth of knowledge from all the players in the teams. You have the English captain as our captain and vice-captain DK has played nearly 200 games in the IPL. Youngster Shubman Gill will see the game differently. You have all different ideas and I can take that knowledge back to New Zealand stating this worked at the Eden Gardens or that worked in Delhi. With the Black Caps, hopefully we can go one step further this time around.

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The Black Caps pace pack is filled with superstars such as Trent Boult, Kylie Jamieson, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Matt Henry and Adam Milne. How motivated do you feel to rub shoulders with these guys?

I don’t think you want to play in a team you easily make and you lose. You always want to play in a team that wins with good players. They are all good mates of mine. You get complacent if you make a team that’s easy to make. The Black Caps is an amazing outfit with players who work very hard. These are exciting times to be part of NZC but I do want to play Test cricket.

 

Lockie’s rapid fire

One NZ player you want to play with: Danny Morrison

One India player you want to play with: K. L. Rahul

Your favourite wicket in the IPL: David Warner; Super Over first ball

Favourite moment: I think probably that Super Over only.

Kane Williamson: Humble.

Eoin Morgan: Legend.

Pat Cummins: Good coffee maker.

T20 World Cup: Chicken dinner.

Eden Gardens: Noise.

Auckland: Home.

Talking about Tests, there were lots of discussions around the ‘home’ advantage part when England toured India recently. The British media had to say a lot on the turning tracks in India. Should Tests be played at neutral venues then?

There is no way you can remove home advantage. Conditions play a big role in cricket. In India if you win the toss, you bat straight away to have a 65 percent chance of winning, but in New Zealand, it may mean the same chance of losing. In cricket, you get international players successful across all countries. That’s where true talent and hard work matter. It will be a challenge for a Kiwi to play in India. The first game I played in India was 50 degrees at night and I was in bed for two weeks. For a Kiwi, it was “what the hell just happened kind of a thing” and I lost two-and-a-half kilos playing for 90 minutes.

It’s just the opposite when the Indian boys are in New Zealand...

When the Indian boys are in New Zealand, they have five jumpers on (laughs). The catches get dropped. When you bowl short balls, it is cold and it hurts more. All that is part of the game. You will not get that in any other sport. We are unique in that sense. On the home advantage part, there could be restrictions like the pitches shouldn’t turn crazy from day one, but if it happens every now and then, it gives the media something to talk about.