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'IPL must happen; important for Indian cricket's sake'

By HARISH KOTIAN
August 11, 2020 18:19 IST
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'Everything else runs because of the IPL, there is so much money involved so the IPL definitely needs to happen.'

Mumbai Indians

IMAGE: The Mumbai Indians celebrate after winning the IPL title last year. Photograph: BCCI

Mumbai and Vidarbha stalwart Wasim Jaffer hung up his boots earlier this year after a long playing career of more than two decades.

Jaffer, 42, won as many as 10 Ranji Trophy titles -- eight with Mumbai, including two as captain and two with Vidarbha, where he shifted in 2015.

Jaffer is the only batsman to have gone past 11,000 runs in Ranji Trophy as he finished his career with a mammoth tally of 12,038 runs, including a career-best 40 centuries.

The right-hander also holds the record for the most matches in Ranji Trophy with 156 games, while also registering the most runs in the Duleep Trophy (2,545) and Irani Trophy (1,294).

Despite such a long playing career, Jaffer didn't opt to take a break from cricket. He found it hard to stay away from the game and has signed up as the batting coach for the Kings XI Punjab in this year's IPL. He will then take over as the head coach of Uttarakhand in domestic cricket.

Ahead of the IPL next month, Jaffer spoke to Rediff.com's Harish Kotian. The first of a multi-part interview:

 

How did you sign up as the batting coach of Kings XI Punjab? And how do you look at the challenge of playing IPL in the UAE this year amid the fear of COVID-19?

First of all, I am thankful to Anil Kumble (head coach of the Kings XI Punjab) because he offered me the job.

I wasn't expecting it, but he was very kind enough to offer it personally. He spoke to me and I took up the job without even asking how much I will paid because it will be a big experience for me as the coach and I will learn a lot being in that environment.

IPL is a different ball game altogether so there is a lot of learnings for me also. Hopefully, I can help a lot of youngsters and make the franchise a winning team, that is the most important thing.

Wherever you go, you try and make your mark and try to make a difference.

Hopefully, we will do better than what we have done in the last few seasons and we can turn things around and become a winning franchise. Fingers crossed, Inshallah.

This year a new coaching set-up has come up at Kings XI so hopefully things work out better for us.

As far as the IPL is concerned, it is the best decision to play in the UAE because at this time of the year we can't play in India because of the rain and also due to the Covid situation.

It is quite safe in UAE and a lot of foreign players will enjoy playing in a place like Dubai where they have completely removed the lockdown.

I personally feel, that apart from the Indian players, a lot of international players will be happy to come to Dubai than coming to India at this point.

The IPL needs to happen. It is very important not just for the IPL's sake, but for Indian cricket's sake also because that money also comes into domestic cricket.

Everything else runs because of the IPL, there is so much money involved so the IPL definitely needs to happen.

Wasim Jaffer

IMAGE: Wasim Jaffer bats during an Indian tour game against the ACT Invitational XI at the Manuka Oval in Canberra, January 10, 2008. Photograph: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

The IPL starts on September 19, which is just a month and a week away. Considering that the teams are likely to be quarantined for 14 days on their arrival in the UAE, then the training and all after that, would you say there is enough time to prepare for the IPL?

That is the best possibility because that is the time we have now, there is nothing right or wrong about it.

I am sure the players were looking after their fitness during the lockdown. I don't think fitness will be an issue.

It is just about hitting the ball or bowling the ball. Fielding probably won't take time.

It is just about the skill thing, I feel, and the more time they spend on the field.

Probably every team is going around August 15 or August 20, so they will get a good 3 or 4 weeks of training or match practice.

Every team will have match scenarios so I think this time will be enough because they are elite cricketers and they should be able to come into the group quicker than other people.

The coaches will have to think about a lot of things other than cricket this time like the bio-secure bubble and other preventive measures in wake of COVID-19. Do you see it as a good learning experience?

Even if the IPL was happening in India I would have learnt a lot and that is the beauty of this game.

No matter what stage of your career you are, you keep learning.

I played 30-odd Test matches for India, I have been dropped so many times. The only positive thing I can speak about that experience is that I kept on learning.

I learnt a lot about the game, I kept an open mind to learn whatever I could. Even at the fag end of my career I kept learning and I will continue to learn as a player and as the coach.

And at Kings XI, I will keep learning too -- from Anil Kumble, Andy Flower, Jonty Rhodes and some great players like Chris Gayle, K L Rahul and others.

By picking their brains, talking about their experience because they have been in the IPL set-up and the T20 set-up a lot more than I have been.

I will learn quite a lot and hopefully I can also pass on my knowledge to them at critical junctures and I hope that it helps them.

Will playing in empty stadiums have an impact on the players?

This is the need of the hour and we can't help it.

I think the players will be happy just to get a chance to play after being in lockdown for such a long time without any cricket.

The players will get used to playing without crowds. We will anyways practice for around four weeks.

This situation is beyond our control. No one likes to play without spectators, but I think it is the need of the hour.

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