The Rajasthan Royals have surprised by constantly punching above their weight in the IPL. Even without big names, the side, led by the mercurial Shane Warne, has proved to be more than a match for the heavyweights on several occasions. The wily skipper lets out the secret to Harsha Bhogle, behind turning lesser-known players into high performers.
How do you make players punch above their weight?
You've got to plan better than everybody else. You have to have better tactics and you have to make these guys believe it's the right tactic.
A lot of these boys don't know English...
A couple of times there have been a bit of a breakdown in communication. It happened with Kamran Khan. I would say to him, 'what are you bowling'? Bouncer? He would say 'yes sir'. I would say, 'you are going to bowl a slower ball outside off-stump', and it would come out the other way…we would have a bit of a laugh over that.
You must have made some tough decisions along the way?
There was one particular decision that set the tone for the rest of the series. We were being pressurised by some people on playing certain players and I told the team owners to book me a flight home. I told them they can have either me or those players in the squad.
Tell us something about the team environment?
The environment we created was about having fun, enjoyment. No fitness coaches, no big team meetings, it was all about enjoyment and fun and sitting around and talking about the game of cricket.
What do you look for in a player? How do you identify a match-winner?
I think everyone can be a match-winner. It's more about attitude. You look for little things like whether they help other players, throw balls to other players, just do their own thing and worry about anybody else. You look for their technique, match awareness and ability to sum up situations of the game.
Give us a peep into your captaincy philosophy.
It's important to be their friend. Once you win their trust, you can be honest with them. It is a lot easier to accept criticism from your friend or a decision you may not like. But you still need to keep that distance as a captain and let them know that you are in charge.
Is there regret that 'Warne, the leader of Rajasthan Royals' could have been 'Warne, the leader of the Australia'?
Not at all. I was very lucky to play under a couple of good captains. Allan Border was fantastic when I first started and Mark Taylor was probably the best captain I have played under.