Kolkata: Sandeep Warrier, the Kerala medium pacer who will be playing his third season with Kolkata Knight Riders, wants to make the most of these two months by picking on the brains of two of the best practitioners of his craft - Pat Cummins and Lockie Ferguson.
Now 30, Warrier is no rookie in the business and despite not being able to make his way in the playing XI too often, is a keen learner. “The day when KKR picked up (Pat) Cummins in 2019, I messaged Abhishek sir saying ‘I'm not going to let him go away from me. I'll be behind him throughout the two months, you just tell me how I do that,'' he said in an interview with the KKR website.
''He is one of the best bowlers you can have right now in the team. I would want to learn from him a lot, not only about T20 cricket or white ball cricket, but also Test cricket. I want to learn how he approaches the game or reacts to certain situations. It will be good to learn from both Lockie and Pat,” said Warrier, who has come a long way from being a net bowler with the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
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A thinking cricketer, Warrier has developed the knuckle ball - which had been a shock weapon for him - along with his ability to swing the ball both ways.
“As a bowler, you are bound to get hit in T20s. But no matter what, the comeback you give in the short time is what that matters. So, when I realized that, I started thinking more on the need to integrate what can be done, so that I can minimize the number of bad balls. I guess that's what gave me success,” observed the bowler who celebrated his birthday after assembling with the squad in Mumbai.
A poor domestic season (2017-18) was all that took for Warrier to “strengthen his weaknesses and sharpen his strengths”. The results were visible for all of us when he plucked the Chris Gayle and KL Rahul in the second match of his debut season against RCB in 2019.
“Previously, I never used to bowl the knuckle ball or the slow ones, so I started working on that and my yorkers after a bad Ranji season in 2017-18. I used to work a lot on my strengths. But after that season, I used to work a lot on my weaknesses," Warrier pointed out.
In a bowling line-up comprising of the likes of Cummins, Ferguson and the young tyros Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkotti, it's not often that Warrier can expect to be in the playing XI. However, with the IPL coming back to India this year, this thinking cricketer may have his moments as well.
“The day when KKR picked up Pat Cummins, I messaged Abhishek sir saying ‘I'm not going to let him go away from me. I'll be behind him throughout the two months, you just tell me how I do that’. He is one of the best bowlers you can have right now in the team. I would want to learn from him a lot, not only about T20 cricket or white ball cricket, but also Test cricket. I want to learn how he approaches the game or reacts to certain situations. It will be good to learn from both Lockie and Pat,” he added.