‘IPL is a great entertainer’

V. V. S. Laxman…“It’s very important to have a gameplan and also be flexible in T20.” “Players likeMahela Jayawardene have proved that it is not necessary to be power-hitters in T20,”.-V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

“Whether it’s Gayle or Kallis, they are all playing to their strengths. How they plan and execute their innings is what the youngsters should learn,” says V. V. S. Laxman, the mentor-cum-brand ambassador of Sunrisers Hyderabad. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Backed by years of experience of playing cricket at the highest level, coach Tom Moody, mentor-cum-brand ambassador V. V. S. Laxman, mentor Krishnamachari Srikkanth and bowling coach Waqar Younis seem to be combining well and contributing a lot to Sunrisers Hyderabad in the on-going Indian Premier League.

Former India star Laxman insists that the role of a mentor is nothing new to him. “Well, it is different definitely to sit in the dug-out, trying to get a feel of things happening on the field on which we don’t have a direct control. But we can always chip in with some inputs that might help the team’s cause. I am really enjoying it, for there is a direct connect with the game out there,” he says with a broad smile.

As for professionalism in the IPL, Laxman says that once a player signs the contract, he will go all out to perform. “It was great to see the players responding in the manner you expect them to. It is important to have the feeling for the team; it’s a great sight.

“While the pace of the game is quick, it’s only 20 overs and there’s not enough time. But sometimes, you are really surprised that even 20 overs is sufficient. All the successful players in the T20 format have realised that quite early and have responded nicely.”

What about the basics?

“They remain the same. But the way you approach the game changes a bit. That’s very critical. And when you see some of the best performances, they have come from players playing their natural game, not trying to change too much or playing out of their game plan,” Laxman says.

“It’s very important to have a game plan and also be flexible. The key to success in the T20 format is adaptability and flexibility, for the game can change in a couple of balls. So, understanding that and assessing the kind of situation and changing your game plan will be very critical,” he adds.

Is there a big need for improvisation in the T20 format?

“I feel that players such as Jacques Kallis, Sachin Tendulkar and Mahela Jayawardene have proved that it is not necessary to be power-hitters. Without changing or altering your natural game much and being choosy about your shot selection and playing within your game plan you can score runs quickly,” Laxman points out.

On his own experience in the format, Laxman says in hindsight he should not have tried to change his normal game. “I should not have done that. In trying to be what you are not, you could end up doing more damage than help yourself. It’s very important to know your strengths and stick to them,” he says.

“In doing so, you can actually add one or two shots by training hard in the nets even while sticking to your original style.

“How some of the great cricketers pace their innings is a delight to watch. That’s what we want the youngsters to learn because ultimately, whether it’s Chris Gayle or Jacques Kallis, they are all playing to their strengths. How they plan and execute their innings is what the youngsters should learn,” he adds.

Laxman is of the view that IPL cannot be a purist’s game because a batsman is not allowed to leave too many balls or respect too many balls. “However, having said that, it’s still an entertaining game. It is very, very entertaining and I love watching T20 cricket. It’s a great game and there is a lot of entertainment for not only the people who love it but also for their entire family. I think the IPL has done a fantastic job,” he explains.

Talking of his role in Sunrisers Hyderabad, Laxman says: “I think Chika sir and I have been given the role of mentoring youngsters and the team and also supporting Tom Moody. We’re very lucky to have a very good support staff. Tom Moody is very experienced. We have one of the best exponents of reverse swing, Waqar Younis, as the bowling coach. Waqar understands the wickets here and the mindset of the local players. I think it’s great we have Simon as the assistant coach; he is very passionate about his job.

“Overall, it is a great environment and the owners have been very encouraging. The CEO, Shanmugham, is a fabulous person who is not interfering with the game. I think that’s so important. You don’t want too much interference from the management.”