New Delhi: Delhi Daredevils coach Eric Simons is quite familiar with the conditions in South Africa, since he hails from the country. And the former Proteas pacer believes his team will have the advantage, given its strong pace attack, in the Champions League Twenty20.
“The conditions will certainly suit our attack. But we’re not one-dimensional in the bowling department. During the IPL, I had said our spinners will play an important role, and our two youngsters (Shahbaz Nadeem and Pawan Negi) bowled really well. We need to have good plans and ideas in place,” Simons said in the team’s first press conference in Johannesburg.
“We’re going to find different conditions at the various venues. Batting is going to be tough compared to other T20 leagues, and the bowlers will have a little more say. We have to find a balance in our team.”
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Asked if the IPL teams were at a disadvantage, since they only linked up for a short period every year, Simons said: “It certainly is an advantage for the teams that are playing domestic cricket and coming here, like Auckland. We’ve had some of the youngsters here, but obviously the internationals have been very busy with the World T20. It’s part and parcel of today’s cricket, not a major issue. The IPL is a long tournament, and the players do develop a decent understanding with each other.”
One of the big concerns for the Daredevils will be the frame of mind of captain Mahela Jayawardene, who led Sri Lanka to a heart-breaking runners-up position in their home World T20.
Simons admits that much, but said he was a professional who would get over it.
“One of the privileges of this job has been to work with Mahela, who’s an amazing person, let alone his cricketing skills. He’ll arrive here focused, and I expect nothing less than the best from him. It’s something that international cricketers face, and our (coaching staff’s) job is to manage the energy of the team. The youngsters will be raring to go, and we’ve got to find the right blend,” he said.
On how the team will adjust to the captaincy change from Virender Sehwag to Jayawardene, Simons said: “There are a lot of similarities between them – both are very calm and have clear thoughts. If the communication between players is clear, it’s (adjustment) reasonably easy. Mahela was part of the management meetings during the IPL too, so I expect it to be pretty seamless.”
Team mentor TA Sekar added: “Last year, Mahela led the team when Viru was sick. Even in the last IPL season, he was the vice-captain, so the adjustment won’t take much time.”
Kevin Pietersen, who had played the first half of the IPL with great success for the Daredevils, will be available for the whole tournament, and Simons believes the recent tussle he has gone through with the England set- up won’t affect his game.
“Cricket is a mind game, but you have to have confidence as a person. Kevin’s strength is that he is the person he is; if he weren’t confident, he wouldn’t be the cricketer he is. He was a crucial part of our team in the IPL, and what you don’t see is what he contributes off the field. It’ll be great to have him here for the whole tournament,” he said.
“You don’t need to keep KP in check. As long as the players are focused on one objective, that’s the team objective, there’s a tremendous vibe.”