Thursday, March 13, 2008

Martin Crowe Speaks to Cricinfo

'You need to treat this as a scientific project'

Sriram Veera

March 12, 2008

Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe has a new role. He's now the Chief Cricket Officer of the Bangalore Royal Challengers and will work with modern legends like Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid and Mark Boucher. He speaks to Cricinfo about his team's plans and its core values.

The Bangalore team is perceived to be full of people who are more conducive to Test cricket than Twenty20. What's your take?

There is a propensity for the perception that we are here to play five-day cricket! To me, they are very classy, stylish, intelligent cricketers. There are no egos, no controversies surrounding them. They are going to be very solid citizens and it's the kind of players we want our group to be represented by.

This is the Twenty20 royal team of the championship. We are going to behave like that, play like that and that describes the bunch we have.

So has the way you play influenced the branding or has the branding influenced your planned style of play

It starts with the name: Royal Challengers. It's a very regal term and I am sure it was by design the kind of people we chose for the team. Rahul had the vision, he wanted this sort of player and that's why he asked me to come in with this kind of role.

You won't see us play wham-bam cricket, you will see an intelligent and well-organised kind of cricket.

My role will be to help the youngsters think out of the square and fit in with the vision. It's a branding exercise, it's a marketing exercise and people have to come in to watch not a region but a city franchise. I will be the intermediary between sponsors, team and the fans.

What exactly is your job description?

I am the chief cricket officer which means I am sort of overseeing the way the team is operating in terms of its thinking, how it can win the tournament and how can it connect with its fan. So it will involve marketing and branding as well. I will work closely with Rahul Dravid in putting strategies in place. It's a group of varied people coming together for the first time and trying to play consistent cricket to win 14 games and qualify for the play-offs.

You said your job will involve marketing. Can you elaborate?

This is a new exciting concept with a city franchise and not only we want to connect this group of players with the local fans but we want the Royal Challengers to be known all throughout India as a side that is intelligent, classy, stylish and calculated. That will be our brand core. I will be the intermediary between the franchise as a whole, the team and the message from the team to the fans as to how we want them to embrace us.

What can a coach do in a Twenty20 format and over a 44-day period?

I am not big on coaches. That's why I am not the cricket coach here. I am a big believer in the captain. This will be Rahul's team. Venkatesh Prasad will look after the nets and physical [aspects], while I can help the batsmen, it's going to be a strategic role for me. Prasad has proved himself as a team coach and I will let him handle that side of the things.

I got a real passion for Twenty20 having done Cricket Max in New Zealand and I have some ideas of how this game can be played. You need to treat this as a scientific project. It's not like a Test match, it's not about durability and concentration over long periods. It's about having lots of small goals and getting everyone strategically positioned. Our aim will be to get more wickets than the opposition. That would mean swinging the ball, great fielding.

What is going to be your cricketing strategy?

To put simply, it would be to take more wickets than the opposition. Build partnerships, throw in some great fielding, our general attitude and win by our all round skills. In a nutshell, with a scientific approach. The first six overs, with the field up, is when you really get your runs, the next eight overs are the middle overs while the last six will be the death overs.

What is the future of Twenty20 and will its success mean the death of 50-over cricket?

The game is here to stay; it is the future. What we are seeing a correction in 50-overs cricket. We had a over-saturation of that form, lots of meaningless cricket was being played. This Twenty20 would offset that.

I see 50-overs cricket being played over four innings. Four Twenty20 innings and I see this happening in ten years time. One-day cricket would become a mini Test match. There fore Twenty20 becomes the precursor to that eventuality. As of now we have Twenty20 and Test cricket while the one-day game is going through an identity crisis.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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