'Understanding players critical'

As mentor and bowling coach of the Mumbai Indians, Pollock maintains that trait, keeping a watch on even the minutest aspect. The South African pacee, owner of 421 Test wickets and 393 one-day victims, spoke to Deccan Herald about his experience with the Indians. Excerpts:

On his long stint with the Indians -- first as a player, and now as a back-room staff:  The time I spent with the Indians gives me some advantage when it comes to knowing the atmosphere, and offering my inputs. But I have my challenges as well because the squad sometimes changes after an auction, and that’s one of the strength of Chennai Super Kings -- continuity.

But we have produced some fine talents over the last couple of years, and hopefully we can build on that. Now, I would like to see Mumbai going over the line and getting that elusive trophy. We had tried some different combinations, but couldn’t find a way to go past Chennai, who were the side to beat in the IPL and CL.

On his role as mentor: As a mentor, I need to take things in individual perspective. I have to understand that each guy comes from a different background. You can’t deal with an Indian player, Rayudu or Abu Nechim for instance, the way you deal with Dilhara Fernando or Lasith Malinga.

Andrew Symonds and Kieron Pollard need a different approach from the aforementioned guys. You can’t put in place one strategy to tackle these individuals. You need to find different ways to make them tick by assessing their strengths and weaknesses not just as cricketers but as human beings as well.

On the challenges young bowlers face in T20: Youngsters might feel a bit tough about T20. It’s not easy to come and straightaway put presssure on quality players. They need to keep their wits while bowling against those kind of batsmen. But good to see some young guys like Abu Nechim doing well in that department. At this level, presence of mind has an equally important place along with your skill sets; you need take T20 as a challenge.

On how to adapt to the challenges of T20: The important part is that these youngsters need to believe that big players are also humans. Chris Gayle or Virender Sehwag, who are eager to punish bowlers, shouldn’t intimidate you. Yes, these batsmen bat well more often than not, and that’s why they are excellent players.

But my word for young bowlers is that you need to believe that you have a chance against these guys, especially in T20 where the nature of the game brings out the aggressor in a batsman. A bowler needs to be on top of his game, and needs to execute his plans perfectly because there is little margin for error against such batsmen.

On how to shift through different formats of the game: Youngsters need to understand different formats have different demands. Test cricket is the ultimate form as every imaginable aspect of a player comes under test -- skill, fitness, mental strength, endurance…and it’s not an easy proposition.

But in T20, your ability to adapt comes under the scanner more than anything else. As a batsman, you need to play a lot more shots, and from a bowler’s perspective, you need to restrict batsmen when they are looking to score off every ball. You should be ready to face different challenges unique to each format.

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