Shane Watson for web
Shane Watson Image Credit: Supplied

Legendary Australian cricketer Shane Watson, who announced that he has played his last game in the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings and will be retiring from all cricket at the senior level, was hailed by the Deccan Gladiators T10 League team. Watson had captained the Gladiators in the Abu Dhabi T10 League and his team owner and business tycoon Gaurav Grover remarked: “Watson is a complete cricketer mainly because of his discipline and the kind of abilities he has in him. We still hope we can have him as a coach if not a cricketer. He is not just a good cricketer but a very good human being as well. He used to talk to us as if he knew us for long. We’ve all learned many things from him. I grew up watching him, so it was great to be with him.”

Grover, whose business interest ranges from Real Estate to investments in BPO’s, IT service, and software development, has investments in the hospitality and entertainment sector in the USA and the UAE. He also has a deep passion for cricket. “I have been watching cricket right from my childhood days. Since the UAE is moving ahead in cricket, it gave me the opportunity to invest in a team in the T10 League, and I bought it two years back. Having players whom I had watched when they were playing for their country now play in my team was a great honour, and now it is the third year.”

Grover is a great admirer of Mumbai Indians allrounder Kieron Pollard. “Pollard is meant for T20 and T10. We have retained him this year and he will captain our team. We have also signed Sunil Narine as our icon player.”

Kieron Pollard Image Credit: Supplied

Talking about Pollard, Grover said: “Pollard is a game-changer. He can change the economy rate of any bowler quickly. We’ve decided to get him to captain our side, and it an honour to have the captain of the West Indies T20 team leading us. He has been playing in the UAE for the last couple of months and that is very good for us.”

Grover who lives in New Delhi, never misses any IPL matches. “IPL is as exciting as it has always been. I have always made it a point to watch all IPL matches played in Delhi. Unfortunately, since spectators were not permitted I could not watch it from the stadium.”

This Indian businessman believes that UAE cricket players have a lot of potential. “We picked pacer Zahoor Khan who was one among the best bowlers in the T10 last year. In the earlier days, UAE players were picked just for the sake of having them in the team; but we have retained a UAE player like Khan.”

When asked whether Grover had plans to be part of the IPL by buying a team, Grover said: “It’s a dream to have an IPL team. However, having different teams in different leagues is not my plan. My vision is to first make Deccan Gladiators a success not just as a strong team but as a brand through which you start earning and then jump on to something else. Since T10 is a shorter format, it will be a great success. I believe that one day this format will be a part of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. If you compare the excitement in T10 with IPL, it is equivalent. In this format too one cannot predict the winner, and just five balls can change the course of the match.”

— The writer is a senior cricket journalist who has covered 12 ICC World Cups