Giving up 16 years of his coaching career in New Zealand, Kenyan-born Kaushik Patel has decided to try his hand for the first time in India as Andhra Ranji Trophy coach this season. The 49-year-old left-hand batsman thinks it is worth the risk.
“I wanted to test my talent as coach outside my country. I accepted the offer of Andhra Cricket Association when MSK (Prasad) asked me whether I can coach the Andhra team,’’ said Patel, brother of Dipak, who played for New Zealand.
Andhra, who have been languishing in the Plate division for the last couple of seasons, hope to turn the fortunes under Patel. Placed in Group C, Andhra start their campaign against Services at Anantapur from November.
On cricket in India
I’m surprised with the passion for the longer version of the game here. That is a huge difference since the shorter version of the game has taken far more importance in other countries like New Zealand.
On his new role as Andhra coach
It is hard to predict anything now as I haven’t seen other teams. But I’m so happy with the talent of this Andhra team. If they work on their self-belief, they can be one of the best teams of the country. They are all good first class players and we need to work a little bit of their skills. I have not seen other teams. We played a few warm up games against Railways. It is a good team. From statistically information of other teams, we have a great chance this year as anybody else. The teams I have noticed, gives me a belief we can do well. These players have to raise their game and they should believe they are the best side in the country.
On batting line-up
The batting line-up is the exciting part. We have got a fairly balanced one with a good mix of experience and youth. We have also a good bowling attack. We are an evenly balanced team. The middle order is second to none in the competition. Sumanth, AG Pradeep and Amol Muzumdar are very good. It is very exciting.
On the two ‘professionals’ from Mumbai
Both Muzumdar and Rajesh Pawar (left-arm spinner) have come into the side scoring a lot of runs and taking lot of wickets. It is their experience which will be invaluable to the team. The batting unit is very young and they will be looking to the experience of Amol. It is always good to have a second coach (Amol) on the field playing.
On Andhra bowling
When we talk about wicket-taking bowler but how many tracks are there in India. So what we should do is to look for smart bowlers, who will know how to work on batsman’s weakness, mental and technical. I will love a bowler who has the ability to take wickets rather than a bowler who is lightning quick, who cannot control the ball. We have got three bowlers who can really think the batsman out. I’m more than happy. We would rely on Sahabuddin and Vijay’s experience, especially in the first two games where there will be grass on the wicket. If these guys pitch the ball on the right areas, they can do serious damage.
On MSK Prasad’s role
MSK Prasad is a brilliant organizer. He is 15 years junior but he is doing a good work. He is a legend in this province. He has got every right to have that status. The good thing is that Prasad has asked me not to change my style of coaching since it is different from the Indian coaches here. He has given me the full freedom to work in my style. So I’m looking forward to that challenge.
On the challenges ahead this season
Every match is important for us. We can’t put too much pressure on the players. The players have to enjoy the game. What we have told the boys is to have self-believe and believe we are the best in the country. We have backed up that with lot of hard work for the last six weeks in two different camps. The priority is to go out and work on all the basics and make sure that we work 100 percent. If we do that, the results will come naturally. We do the basics right in all the four days of the game, we will come out successfully. We have a plan to win. The batsmen have plan to score runs and the bowlers have plans to take wickets. The first two games are crucial.