EXCLUSIVE: Simon Doull previews Champions League t20

World Cricket Badger caught up with ESPN-STAR Sports commentator Simon Doull, the former New Zealand fast bowler, to preview the forthcoming Karbonn Smart Champions League t20 competition, which starts with the qualifiers tomorrow. Doull believes the Mumbai Indians are favourites for the title and that 19-year-old Otago Volts’ fast bowler Jacob Duffy is a star in the making.

Cricket Badger: How do you see the Champions League t20 unfolding?

Simon Doull: “It’s always tough for the teams not from India. The pitches, the crowds, different timezones, they will all play a part. I guess those sides are going to have rely on the spinners doing a great job for them.

“It’s also difficult for sides who miss out on players who go and play for the Indian Premier League sides instead. Somebody like a Trinidad and Tobago would be as strong as any of the sides in the competition if they were allowed their full quota of players available. They will be depleted quite heavily.”

CB: Despite this, the IPL sides have far from dominated this competition. Perhaps a reason for that being that other domestic teams play together for a lot longer than the IPL sides?

Simon Doull

Simon Doull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SD: “We’ve had two of these competitions in South Africa, which certainly helps the non-IPL sides a little more. That was certainly the case last year.

“I just think the IPL sides have worked things out a little bit more in the last two or three years. I think the IPL we’ve just seen this year was the best one of the six that have gone so far. Sides, especially the top ones, are just starting to get their combinations a lot more spot on from game to game. That’s why I think this year will be a lot tougher for the international sides coming over.

“But the beauty for the international sides is that a lot of their players are unknown. Scouting and that kind of thing is not always that easy. For some of the IPL sides, they do tend to rely a lot on their own natural ability and backing themselves.

“That’s sometimes good, but it can also mean that a James Faulkner or a Nathan Coulter-Nile or some of these other guys who have had success in the past can creep up on you. The opportunity for a player who is not that well known to shine is ever present.”

CB: With that in mind, putting you on the spot here…If you had to pick somebody who can be a name to shine who not many people perhaps know about, who would you go for?

SD: “There’s a young kid at Otago, and I only say this because I know him and I’ve seen him in the last two or three years, called Jacob Duffy. He played his first Twenty20 game for Otago whilst he was still at high school. I’m sure he’ll play and take the new ball for the Volts.

“If they get through to the main tournament, watch out for him because he’s a really talented young kid who’s got his yorkers sorted. I hope he does well because he’s got a lot of ability.”

CB: Looking at the other end of the age spectrum. It’s going to be Sachin Tendulkar’s last Twenty20 tournament. How would you assess how he’s stamped his authority on the Twenty20 game?

SD: “At the start of Twenty20 and the Mumbai Indians, I think Sachin was looked upon as still capable of playing very good one-day and Twenty20 cricket. I think in the past two years, he’s probably not been there as far as Twenty20 is concerned. He’s not really found his right place in the batting order.

“I also think he’s possibly been a little bit selfish, which is a harsh thing to say about such a great player. But at Twenty20 level, it’s about getting your team off to a great start. He just hasn’t been able to do that in the last couple of years - that’s been tough.

“He’ll never be remembered as a Twenty20 player, and his Twenty20 career will very rarely be talked about because of the amazing things that he’s done at Test match and one-day international level. I don’t think he’ll ever read too much into his Twenty20 stats for either Mumbai or even for India when all’s said and done.”

CB: If he does go out with a bang during this competition, could his biggest fans view this competition as (Twenty20) career defining because it’s the most recent. Does that make sense?

SD: “It’s possible. I just don’t know whether he’s as willing to be free with his wicket. He got into a similar situation in Test matches when he was trying to get that 100 hundreds. I just wonder whether the flair started to go towards the end of that Test match career. You need that.

“When you watch Virat Kohli, when you watch Rohit Sharma, when you watch Shikhar Dhawan, they have the fearless approach that Sachin had ten years ago, even five years ago. That’s what you need. It’s not having that fear of getting out. They believe in their ability so much.

“Sachin has a huge amount of pressure on him to please the crowd, and I think he feels that in Twenty20 cricket, especially playing for Mumbai because he’s so desperate to do well and succeed for them.”

CB: Who would you pick out as competition favourites?

SD: “I don’t think you can look too far beyond Mumbai. I just think the addition of Mitchell Johnson has made such a difference to their side. It just completed their side. If they can sort their batting order, they do look to be the most dangerous side. They went off the boil a bit, but they’re always going to be a very dangerous side. Having said that, so are the Australian and South African sides, who have done well in the past.”

CB: Just a final question. Picking up on what you said about Mitchell Johnson…Do you think that he will be a key component in Australia’s forthcoming Ashes campaign?

SD: “It looks like it’s heading that way doesn’t it. I thought they would have had a decent crack in the last series in England if they could get runs, but they just couldn’t do that. The Test matches they did ok in were on the back of their batsmen getting runs.

“Now, heading into the next series, it looks like they’ve got a few injuries in the bowling department. Mitchell Johnson is going to have to come into their calculations. He looks like he’s worked very hard on his game. He swings the ball back into the right-hander, which is exactly what you want from your left-armer, and you’ll always get 100 percent effort from him. He can’t be far off being the next cab off the rank.”

James Buttler

James Buttler

James has been working as a cricket journalist and broadcaster since 2006.
As the editor of Cricket Badger he is intent on building the website to give quality coverage of the domestic game around the world.
James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author and a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications.
He's unsurprisingly a complete cricket badger!
James Buttler

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