IPL 2020: I’m going to learn to play spin from Anil Kumble - Jimmy Neesham

IPL 2020: The IPL will be his first tournament in six months and the 29-year-old talks about his excitement in being back on the field, how he’s hoping to learn how to tackle spin from Anil Kumble.
Jimmy Neesham is a dog lover(Image Credit: Kings XI Punjab/Twitter)
Jimmy Neesham is a dog lover(Image Credit: Kings XI Punjab/Twitter)
Updated on Sep 24, 2020 11:08 PM IST
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When the world stood dazed witnessing the nerve-wracking 2019 World Cup final, Jimmy Neesham was firing on all cylinders.

For there he was in the middle, fighting till the very last against England. The all-rounder took three wickets in the title clash, effected a last ball run out that tied the match and then scored 13 off five balls against Jofra Archer in the super over - just the kind of man you need in your IPL team! Then, Martin Guptill’s run out happened and match got tied for the second time, and England took the trophy simply because they had more boundaries.

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“At the end there was no skill involved…we were unlucky,” Neesham says in an interview from Dubai, where he is with his IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab.

The IPL will be his first tournament in six months and the 29-year-old talks about his excitement in being back on the field, how he’s hoping to learn how to tackle spin from Anil Kumble and…that World Cup final.

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How did your lockdown go?

New Zealand is not as badly hit as a lot of other countries. So, a lot of the time we had a reasonably normal way of life. Back home, I live in a house with four or five other people. So, we had a bit of jump and sit up, went outside, took the dog out, those sorts of things. For me it was pretty normal. Also, I guess I was quite fatigued after playing a long time without a break, since I guess September 2018, pretty much non-stop. It was actually good little break to get away from the game and get my body right. It turned out to be a little longer than I would have liked. One month would have been good, but at the end it was a six.

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There’s no franchise T20 league in New Zealand. You seem to follow a different path to producing T20 players?

The reason we don’t have a franchise T20 Cup has nothing to do with the lack of quality players. Having played a fair bit, around the world, I can say our domestic T20 competition is as strong as any competition as far as local talent goes. We are a little bit unlucky in where we are in the world. Our time zones are not that appealing to the big markets. As New Zealanders, we find ourselves out of the radar a little bit. There are NZ players who are good enough to be picked up as an overseas player in the IPL. It’s just that a lot of Aussie coaches prefer taking Aussie players!

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So, may be one day we have little more exposure for New Zealanders so that the local players can get bit more of an even shot. My role is to take the opportunity as given, being among the five-six guys who have got the opportunity to play in IPL.

Two World Cup finals and a World T20 semi-final finish in last five years, New Zealand seem to be riding a crest?

A strong era for sure if you look back at the 2008 and 2010 U-19 World Cup. Pretty much our whole team now (came from those tournaments). (Trent) Boult, (Tim) Southee, (Kane) Williamson, myself, Tom Latham, Corrie Anderson, Doug Bracewell and a number of others as well. Matt Henry and Adam Milne were not good enough to make the team (U-19) which is pretty amazing if you think about it. It’s just one of those quirks of generational sports. We had quite a number of strong players come through all at once. The challenge is now that the players of this era are sort of in their late twenties or early thirties. So, we need to make most of the opportunity by winning a global trophy. We haven’t done that since the 2000 (The ICC Champions Trophy).

The 2019 world Cup was great opportunity and we were quite unlucky. But we have few global tournaments coming in the next few years with a couple of T20 World Cups and the 2023 ODI World Cup as well. I don’t want to finish my career without having a global trophy in the cabinet.

That 2019 final loss, do you still think about it?

It’s sort of something that I have come to accept that (it) will never leave me. When you finish like that and the margin between victory and defeat is so small, it really just comes down to pure luck. I guess the one thing that you can take out of it, as someone who was there right till the end, is that there was no skill involved at the end! It was just the case of flipping the coin and telling whether you are unlucky or lucky. Unfortunately, we were unlucky.

So, I think what we can do is move on and take the lessons about what we could do differently. The few opportunities we had, we didn’t commit any mistakes but the things didn’t fall our way. That’s sport I guess. It would have been great to have another super over, have another crack at the final. But that’s not going to be. In all honesty, I don’t think, there will be another tight super over like that in another World Cup.

What is the one thing you want to learn from coach Anil Kumble?

When you have one of the best spinners of all time in your team, I think it’s foolish to not talk about how to play spin, especially in the subcontinent. Obviously, I will have little use of learning to bowl leg-spin, but I can definitely learn what he doesn’t like seeing in a batsman or what annoys him as a bowler.

As Kiwis, we are renowned strugglers against spin in India, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. I am going to talk about how to play spin basically.

As a fast bowling all-rounder in all formats, do you think it’s possible to have a long career with so much cricket going on?

We have to be vigilant about what’s coming. Fast bowlers won’t enjoy me saying this, but as all-rounders we do it twice as hard as anyone. We have seen how many injury prone all-rounders have come and gone. Chris Cairns, Jacob Oram, Andre Flintoff all had shorter careers than they should have due to injury. I have had discussions with Steady (NZ coach Gary) since we are close to the season, talking about what series I would probably not mind missing, or the bumper series that I would not miss at all.

I guess you need to be really open and honest about where you are physically. I think that comes with experience and I guess that’s one of the benefits of being in the late twenties. Everybody has different levels of fatigue that they can endure and play with. I think there is no reason to push too hard and get injured.


    Abhishek Paul works with the Hindustan Times’ sports desk. He has been covering the beat since 2010 across print and digital mediums.

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