Making a quick mark

Making a quick mark

Making a quick mark

Royal Challengers’ West Indian fast bowler Ravi Rampaul speaks on his life and times in the fast lane...

Ravi Rampaul has a lofty tradition to maintain as a West Indian pace bowler. However, injuries in the early part of his career curtailed his progress at the top level despite him possessing considerable skills and pace to match it. Since the World Cup in 2011, Rampaul has managed to stay largely injury free and be a part of the Windies team in all the three formats, finally showing signs of a long haul in international cricket.

The Trinidadian spoke to Deccan Herald on topics like bowling in T20s, his career and injuries. Excerpts:

This your first stint in IPL. How has it been so far?       
I was looking forward to play (in the IPL). I missed out on the first couple of games, and when I got my opportunity I gave it my best. My first IPL game was against Chennai and there’s no better team to make your debut than the Super Kings. Lots of noise and it was a tight situation, but I made sure I gave my best.
Despite being a very good T20 bowler, you had to wait for six seasons to play in the IPL. Was it a bit frustrating?

It wasn’t frustrating at all because I was playing for the West Indies or for Trinidad. But yes, I have been watching the IPL, and I sort of liked the colour purple of Kolkata Knight Riders. It’s more about the colour than the team (laughs), so for sometime I thought of playing for KKR so that I can wear a purple uniform. Having said that, I want to give my best for RCB now.

You’ve been asked to bowl in the death for RCB, a duty that Sunil Narine often does for the West Indies. How challenging a task it is for you?

Growing up as a fast bowler I always liked facing challenges. I like to be in the game. It’s about bowling in the areas where batsmen would find it tough to score off you, and of course, I did some extra work on it as well. Now I am quite confident bowling with the new ball in the Power Plays as well as in the death overs.

Did you expect to bowl in that Super Over (against Delhi Daredevils)?
I never expected to bowl the Super Over. Our coach (Ray Jennings) came to me and asked can you bowl the over, and I said yes. I was nervous, but I wanted to come out of that challenging situation as a winner. I wasn’t doing any specific practice. But yes, I was sort of prepared for it. If you bowl six balls at Chris Gayle at nets and I think you are ready for the Super Over. It’s a good way to practice for the Super Over.

It might be a special feeling for you to play in India because your family has its roots in this country?

I don’t look at it that way because I love to play cricket anywhere. But it’s a good feeling to play in India. I know the conditions here, as I had come here with the West Indies in 2011. The crowd here is fantastic, especially in Bangalore. They gave us wholehearted support and as a bowler it gives me extra confidence to go there and perform. It is something like in the Caribbean where people come out in numbers and support you.

You are the first Indian origin fast bowler to play for West Indies, which is a deviation of sorts from the tradition because Indian origin cricketers who played for the West Indies were either spinners or batsmen. So how did you take up pace bowling?

The biggest reason is I love bowling fast. I love it when batsmen are a bit scared of me. I didn’t exactly think that there was no ‘East Indian’ fast bowler played for the West Indies. It was more about following my dreams. But yes, lot of people have told me that I was the first ‘East Indian’ pacer to play for the West Indies. Now that I have made it to the West Indies team I want to play for long.
Your modus operandi is quite dissimilar to the great West Indian fast bowlers, who used to terrorise batsmen with short-pitched balls…

West Indies have produced a lot of great fast bowlers – some were tearaway pace bowlers, some others used swing and seam. They also had the help of pitches that suited pace bowling. But wickets in the Caribbean these days do not suit pace bowling that much. They suit slower bowlers more. Wickets have changed in the Caribbean and the bowlers also need to change and need to develop some variations like slower balls to get wickets.

A shin injury kept you out of international cricket just after your debut at 19. Weren’t you ready for top-level cricket then?

I guess I was ready for international cricket. The selectors picked up me and I played against Zimbabwe and South Africa in the one-dayers. But then I was out for two years with the shin injury, which probably was the result of playing almost non-stop cricket from under-15 to under-19, and I didn’t quite know how to manage the workload back then. Many people thought I would not come back from that injury and play for the West Indies again. It was a very painful injury. I put on a lot of weight those days, but it sort of taught me the importance of maintaining good work ethic. Now, I have matured as a bowler. I know the types of wickets I am bowling on and I have developed some variations. I am more aware of batsmen and how they think.

Former West Indian pacer Ian Bishop was a great help….
Bishop was a great source of inspiration. He used to talk to me a lot. He also had to go through lot of injuries in his playing days, and he told me the importance of injury management. He was my team manager when I first played for Trinidad and Tobago, and gradually he became my mentor. He still gives me a lot of tips. He was there when I bowled the Super Over. I think he was more scared than me. And he gave me a big hug after that over.

No balls still seem to be an issue with you….
I am alert to that problem. It was I think a result of trying to get some extra pace. It’s quite funny to think that running all the way from there and then not able to get behind the line. I certainly don’t want to give batsmen an extra ball, so I am working on it.

How do you place yourself between Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards, two aggressive fast bowlers?

They are two attacking bowlers. In Test cricket it’s either me and Roachy or me and Fidel to start the proceedings, so my method is to swing the ball and get some early wickets while Roach tries to unsettle the batsmen with a few short balls.
You seem a much softer character than Roach and Edwards?

I think it’s the culture. They are Bajan (from Barbados) fast bowlers and I am from Trini (Trinidad), and Trinis are loveable people. But on the field, we play hard and fearless cricket, but it’s tough for Trinis to look menacing even while doing that (laughs). Even I like to bang the batsmen with a few short balls — which fast bowler doesn’t like that? I will do that, perhaps, when I get a bit angry.

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