April 3, 2013

Season six, bring it on

Time to start on the mad merry-go-round again. (This year, with better use of downtime)

It is almost with disbelief that I reflect on the fact that I started writing this diary a year ago, and that we are now already at the start of the new IPL season.

Our team branding has changed, our personnel have changed, and even the elevated freeway that connects Kolkata to the suburb of Salt Lake has progressed a lot in the last 12 months, but things feel calmingly familiar within the squad.

A week's preparation is already under our belts, and though it has been a disruptive time, with the squad being completed in increments as players jet in from five continents, it feels as though we are all set for tonight's opening match against Delhi Daredevils.

I'm not superstitious, but our first three fixtures - against Daredevils, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore - are a replica of last year's schedule. Hopefully this is a good omen and we can get out of the blocks quicker this year.

The focus is firmly back on the cricket as of this morning, and on the challenges that lie ahead of us as defending champions. Do the accolades of the past have a bearing on what lies ahead or is it possible to compartmentalise a period of competition or treat a tournament in isolation? There are certainly mixed views on this, and evidence for and against.

Trevor [Bayliss] and Gautam [Gambhir] have touched on this, and we are focusing on the positives of being the defending champions. Rationally, we have the examples of what we did well to become IPL 5 champions to reproduce, and lessons from that campaign (and the Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa) to learn from. I see it as a clean slate, with the slight advantage of the marginal confidence of that recent success.

Personal achievements go hand in hand with team success. Having players near the top of the run-scoring and wicket-taking lists is important and invariably results in the team doing well. But over-reliance on individuals is a rot to be avoided. The sharing of responsibility is important for success over a significant period. So it is comforting to look back and see that we have had contributions from everyone in the squad.

Through all the IPLs there is a huge amount of downtime or dead time. The schedule is pretty busy, but generally on most days we are commitment-free until late in the afternoon, when the team practises. This year I have decided to take advantage of these happy hours, if I may call them that. I'm going to try to be more productive with my time this year, and have embarked on a project to read and review one book every week while I am out here. Apart from the personal satisfaction I get from reading, the project will be used to raise some money to establish a library here.

I've started with Calcutta by Amit Chaudhuri, an Indian author, and I'm thoroughly absorbed by his depiction of this incredible metropolis and its "citizens".

Today is match day. Eden Gardens is looking fantastic and is the perfect arena to start proceedings. Both teams have to deal with injuries and player availability, but this will not detract from tonight's contest.

Satchi (Sachithra Senanayake) is an exciting addition to our team and I'm personally looking forward to seeing him play. Despite being an international performer I think he's in for a treat with the atmosphere he'll experience at the Gardens tonight.

So with all the cricket preparations done it's time to switch on mentally and ensure that the nerves are made of steel. The excitement from within is immense and the players are chomping at the bit. I hope this season lives up to all expectation and that this IPL surpasses the legend of years gone by. Enjoy the ride.

Ryan ten Doeschate is an allrounder for the Netherlands and for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Babul on April 5, 2013, 6:22 GMT

    @Grant King: Kallis is great. He may be end up with better records than Sobers! But I looked up IPL records. Ryan's average is 32 and strike rate is 136 whereas Kallis's average is 30 and strike rate is 109. So what is the point of keeping in the team a "non-slogger" who averages lower than a so-called "slogger"? Also, did you see how Sachin and Ponting lost Mumbai Indians today's game? Yes--they should not play or bat lower down the order! This is IPL--no test cricket! Also, Kallis's runs per over as a bowler is 7.35 while Ryan's is 7.75, only slightly higher. Let's see how the season unfolds and how Kallis, Sachin etc. do.

  • Clean on April 4, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    I'd love to see Ryan get few chances this season but I feel that for that to happen, 2 of the foreign players besides Kallis and Narine have to perform poorly.

    Good Luck this season Ryan. Keep Blogging dude. It's great to read about the inside scoop within the KKR Camp.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    With both Morgan & Mccullum not available in May, Ryan should definitely get few games as middle order batsmen. Brett Lee is always useless at Eden Garden, he should be replaced with Sachitra Senaneyeke in all matches at Eden Garden. While Sunil Narine can bowl the death overs, Sachitra can bowl in middle over. Kallis, Laxmi Ratan & Balaji can easliy fill up pacers shoes for few overs

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    @LoveTeamIndia I'm glad that you are not a KKR selector. You would choose a team of sloggers and hope they come off on the night. I believe in sure things. With kallis you know what you'll get and of late he is batting faster and since he is opening the bowling for KKR he is also valuable doing that. Regarding his age then Tendulkar and dravid and other old bones should also not play. Thank God you can only anoy us and are not picking teams.

  • Babul on April 4, 2013, 5:35 GMT

    Kallis could also be dropped to make room for Ryan. Kallis is neither a good bowler nor a great T20 batsman. There is absolutely no role of a sheet anchor in T20! Also, his age is against him. Hope KKR realizes that soon and Ryan gets a few games.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 3:46 GMT

    please more of your diary.. same as last year great writting... second career..

  • Jay on April 4, 2013, 1:24 GMT

    I think the KKR wasted Ryan's talent by benching him in the first game. Brett Lee was a useless option on that pitch. They could have played Ten Doeschate and Eoin Morgan because Ten Doeschate is an all rounder and bowls dibbly dobbly seam ups like Rajat Bhatia. He would have been a handful on a slow, low wicket. Lee was expensive and effectively gave away 20 extra runs when the Daredevils could have been rolled over for less than a 100. I hope Gambhir uses his brains next time. With Shakib Al Hasan out of the season due to injury and Bangladesh duty, they should contemplate playing Ten Doeschate at home games. He's a brilliant fielder, capable all rounder and a fine team man.

  • Hardy on April 3, 2013, 21:02 GMT

    So I just had a read over some of your diary entries last year Ryan & I have to admit, you are a very talented writer & choose some interesting topics too. Sounds like the IPL's plenty of fun even without playing but here's hoping you get a few games.

    So many players in every squad that half of them inevitably miss out. It always feels like a bit of a lottery, which is what makes the IPL exciting I guess, 'cos T20 narrows the gap between teams that can be ruthlessly exposed in Test cricket.

  • Sanjoy on April 3, 2013, 20:57 GMT

    44*, 65, 50, 37, 95*, 23, 41*...these are the scores of Ryan's 7 innings in his last 10 matches...really wish he's given a go in place of Morgan until McCullum joins the squad being fully fit..