By Lokendra Pratap Sahi
Pune (The Telegraph): Trevor Bayliss, the rather unassuming coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders, spoke to The Telegraph at the Marriott on Thursday evening, an hour after the Knights arrived here by coach from Mumbai.
The following are excerpts
Well, the Knights are through to the playoffs, so objective No.1 has been realised...
A good team effort has taken us forward and the boys have shown a lot of character in some of the really close matches. The T20 game is pretty even, so you’ve got to keep giving yourself a chance of winning. We’ve lost a few, but still showed character... Such an attitude helps... At this stage, though, we aren’t looking beyond Saturday’s match against the Pune Warriors India... If you get too far ahead of yourself, you could get a nasty surprise.
Given that two Australians (John Buchanan and Dav Whatmore) had already coached the Knights in the first four seasons, did you think hard when the job was offered to you?
Not really... The way Venky Mysore (the Knights’ CEO) explained it, the impression I got was of a family type of a franchise... It has been a good ‘marriage’, so far.
The character bit apart, what has made the difference for the Knights?
Look, Gautam Gambhir has done a great job as captain... The way he captained against the Mumbai Indians was sensational... Then, there’s Sunil Narine... The squad is like one big happy family, with people getting along with each other... The boys do the right things at training... We may not be practising for long, but there’s quality in what we do. There are no half-measures. Basically, there’s a good feeling in the group.
Aren’t you worried over Yusuf Pathan’s lack of form?
More than me, I think he’s worried himself... But he’s been working hard and has taken steps forward... He’s doing the right things (before a match), but is going through a phase all players go through.
According to Brett Lee, your contribution has also been massive and that you stay unbelievably calm...
(Grins) A T20 game is nervous enough and it doesn’t help if the coach is nervous too! I’m calm on the outside, but nervous inside... It’s just that I don’t show it... Look, players are already under pressure in a T20 game and, so, coming down hard on them won’t help. If anything, it will put them under more pressure... I haven’t come to make too many changes... The Knights had made the playoffs last season, so some things were obviously being done right.
So, you aren’t taking any credit?
The players are the ones who do the job. As coach, my responsibility is to create the right environment. The success is all down to the players. My job is to give the players opportunities to succeed.
How about working on the skill level?
The international players are the best in the business, they don’t need a coach to improve their skill... That comes into play, in a big way, when one is working with the really young players. Of course, there could be times when even the best need to be reminded a bit about technique.
Why did you leave the Sri Lanka job last year?
My family (wife, son and daughter) had remained in Sydney and I’d been away, in Sri Lanka, for four years... That was a long time... It was time to go home... In most sport, after four-five years, I think it’s time to move on. I did. Moving away could invigorate the set-up.
Coaches, therefore, have a shelf life of four-five years...
Not all coaches... But, yes, sometimes it’s good to get new ideas into a group after four-five years. There’s no hard and fast rule, though.
After a break, could we see you back coaching an international team?
I don’t like looking too far ahead, but one never says never. But my children (son is 17, daughter 13) have to first finish their schooling.
You’ve coached Sri Lanka, New South Wales and, now, are with the Knights. What’s the pressure like in the IPL?
The hype in the IPL is very big... The crowd, the noise... It’s very much like an international game... The young Indian (domestic-level) players stand to gain by rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names. The IPL teams need the Indian players to make a big contribution.
On a personal level, what has the experience with the Knights been like?
(Grins) From a day person, I’ve become a night person! Back in Australia, I was an early to bed and early to rise kind of a person. Now, that has changed. Indeed, my day has turned on its head.
At the auction, in February, who suggested that Narine be bought?
Can’t remember who brought up his name first, but I remembered the New South Wales players had been very impressed with him in the Champions League... When his name came up, I felt he’d be a good acquisition. As it turns out, Narine has fitted into the group very well and it’s a pleasure to see him bowl.
What, for you, is special about Narine?
Well, he’s one of the mystery spinners. That, combined with accuracy and a bit of extra pace, has made him more than a handful. Even if you’re lucky to pick the ball he has bowled, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get him away for runs. The more batsmen play, they could pick him better, but Narine has it in him to stay one step ahead. He’s such an unbelievable talent.
Of all the Knights’ win this season, which one gave you the most satisfaction?
The one in Mumbai last night, where we defended 140. Mumbai had 10 Internationals in their line-up. The outfield was fast, the wicket decent and the ground small... Yet, the boys did it.
And, the most frustrating...
Oh, has to be when we lost to the Chennai Super Kings, on the last ball, at the Eden.
Finally... Have you been influenced by any coach?
One picks up bits and pieces... Bob Simpson and Steve Rixon did have an influence, at New South Wales. Eventually, you do the things you’re comfortable doing.