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Kolkata Knight Riders’ fielding last year was one of the worst: Simon Katich

The current crop of players at Kolkata Knight Riders will have more pace and energy on the field, says assistant coach and former Australia batsman Simon Katich

cricket Updated: Apr 08, 2018 08:36 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Kolkata
IPL 2018,Simon Katich,Indian Premier League
Simon Katich is confident about Kolkata Knight Riders for the IPL 2018 season.(Getty images)

Given his love for rustling up a meal, ‘what’s cooking’ seemed too tempting an opening to resist for a conversation with Simon Katich. As it turned out, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) assistant coach hasn’t been able to head to the kitchen yet.

“It’s been a busy week so cooking’s been put on the backburner. Maybe, I will get an opportunity here some time,” said the former Australia batsman during an interview at Eden Gardens on Friday.

Excerpts

One the reasons why KKR got Chris Lynn to open last term was to compensate for Andre Russell’s absence. Now that Russell’s back, will Lynn still go at the top?

Yes, that’s a role he has become accustomed to. Not just in IPL but in the Big Bash League (BBL) as well. In the recent T20s he has played for Australia, he has often batted at No 3. He feels comfortable batting at the top and it suits the balance of our team.

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Does that mean Robin Uthappa will be the other opener?

It depends on the balance. When Chris got injured, we got Sunil (Narine) to open and he provided a really good kickstart to the innings. The beauty is all of them are experienced players. Robin often came at No 4 last time, which was uncommon, and still managed strike rates of around 160 (165.10). Most players who do that need to use the power play…He also moves well around the field and enjoys being a senior figure in the team being vice-captain.

KKR had fielding issues last season. Has there been special focus on that?

That is a big area we focused on. Our fielding last year was one of the worst in the competition. A lot of the time it comes down to not only your attitude on the field but also personnel. We feel that with the group we have got now, with a lot of younger players in the squad, we feel we will have a lot more pace and energy on the field than last year. Even in the fielding drills we have done so far, the amount of times we are hitting the stumps now compared to the previous couple of years is a big difference. So, hopefully that is an area we improve as well in terms of getting run outs and creating run-out opportunities.

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Does Mitchell Starc’s absence mean greater load on Mitchell Johnson, who is 36?

A: It was a big blow because we invested a fair bit on him. But we are blessed in the fact that we do have a very experienced campaigner in Mitchell Johnson; he bowled Mumbai to victory with that last over. He is still a very good performer and had a very good BBL season. The conditions are different from Australia but from what we have seen already, he is in good form. He is fit, he is bowling well and at a good pace, even though he is not as quick as he was in his prime.

Between him and Tom Curran, who is an emerging player, we have different options and that gives us a bit of variety in our attack.

Does Starc’s absence and Johnson’s age mean an opportunity for young pacers Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti?

A lot of our top bowlers are spinners and Vinay (R Vinay Kumar) is very experienced and performing well too. If you throw in Johnson, Curran and Russell, we have a lot of experience with the ball. But as the tournament goes on, due to the workload and travel, there will be issues of injury and form and that is where youngsters will get an opportunity…They are very raw but there is no doubt there will be opportunities. We have to make sure we find the right role initially so that coming into the team they can contribute without putting too much pressure on them.

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Doesn’t it erode a bowler’s confidence when his action keeps being reported and to what end has that affected Narine?

A: It does have a huge effect. Cricket is a big confidence game and this, I guess, becomes an unwanted distraction. The game is hard enough when you are playing normally, let alone those distractions. Sunil has been through it and he has done a lot of work over the past two weeks. We think he has made good progress and should be right to go come Sunday. Yes, there is going to be scrutiny, he knows that.

He has done a lot of work on over the past 18 months. When he first came back, he said that normally it can be a three-year process because it is a big change to the action and to the mechanics of using the rest of your body to rectify that. He has put a lot of work to that process but there could still be work to be done.

First Published: Apr 08, 2018 08:32 IST