The Nondescript Belleville Cricket Club ground presented a few rare sights on Thursday morning. A local ground without stands or elaborate security arrangements, it saw some of the glitterati of the international game when the Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals trooped in for practice.
The list included Shane Warne, Sourav Ganguly, Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson etc. After settling down to the glittering presence of the big names, what drew attention was low-key in comparison, but with every potential to emerge as a feature of this competition.
Bowling coach of the Knight Riders, Andy Bichel, was working tirelessly with his wards at one of the nets and singled out Ganguly for special attention. The former India captain was made to work overtime and bowl to a particular length, slower ones and yorkers. Bichel had marked out the landing spots by placing plastic discs on the pitch.
The Aussie predicted batsmen wouldn't call the shots this time. "They don't play cricket here at this time of the year. So you'll see a lot more swing than last year. The new ball will do quite a bit because of the wind and there may also be something for the spinners later on," he told HT.
Citing the example of Rajasthan Royals last year, when Sohail Tanvir, Watson and Warne did considerable damage with the ball, the Australian said bowlers could also play an important role in a team's success. “The attack of the Royals was very effective and in any form of the game, a team will always be in a good position if they take wickets.”
Bichel felt IPL II would see a return of some conventional aspects of the game. “Innovations like slower ones will remain effective. The wind will be a big factor, so there will be sufficient emphasis on the new ball. With the ball unlikely to lose shine as quickly as it does in India, there will be something for bowlers in the middle and closing stages as well."
In the middle, batsmen after batsmen were continuously practising the big shots and the balls being chucked at them from a shorter distance were flying around the park. If Bichel's predictions come true, the batsmen too would have to be careful at least for a few overs.