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The former Pakistan allrounder enjoyed his first taste of the IPL when he turned out for the Kings XI Punjab this year
Interview by Jack Wilson
June 2, 2012
Your first IPL is over. A good one for you even though your side, Kings XI Punjab, just fell short of the playoffs. How did you find it?
I'm pleased with my performance in my first IPL, but I have been playing good cricket for the last few years now, in England, New Zealand and Bangladesh. You're always learning as a player, and although I'm 37 now it doesn't mean you just stop all of a sudden. You're always finding stuff out about the game.
The experience has been brilliant, unbelievable. The atmosphere was great, and everywhere you go - home and away - you're playing in front of full houses. The crowd is always loud and the fans are very passionate. Playing cricket in India is always incredible as they love the game so much.
I see playing as a bit like being an actor. As an actor you want people to come and see your film and that's just what it's like as a cricketer. The more people that come, the more it inspires me to do better and better. The packed houses gave me energy, which I thrived on. I play best in that kind of environment.
Kings XI's performances picked up once you got into the country after missing the first five games with your visa problems. Do you think about how well the team might have done if you had joined the side that little bit earlier?
We could have made the playoffs, but saying we would have if I'd arrived earlier is just ifs and buts - you can't reflect on what might have been. It was frustrating to miss out on a few games and I was relieved when I took to the field in the first game. As a side we played some good cricket and I had a wonderful time playing under Gilly [Adam Gilchrist]. We all know what he can do on the field as he's been a terrific player for many years, but off the field he's a great human being too. He made it a happy team to be a part of and as a group we were very close, which helps when it comes to playing out on the field.
You ended up as one of the IPL's best allrounders, with 186 runs at an average of 23.25 and 14 wickets at 23.5. Your economy was under eight too. Your contract was for one year but are you hopeful of getting back out there in 2013?
[Laughs] Hopefully, yes. I signed a one-year contract and I think they might want to try and keep me. It depends when we can negotiate a deal but Kings XI have the first right to keep me in their squad. After having such a good tournament, people want me, and I want to go out there and play again as I loved every single minute of it. They seemed to love me too, and I enjoyed being a part of their side. Allrounders are so valuable to the balance of the team, so hopefully we can sort something out.
I'm at the age now where I want to be playing cricket. I would much prefer to play and show what I can do than go somewhere and get paid the money and not play any games.
|"I see playing as a bit like being an actor. As an actor you want people to come and see your film and that's just what it's like as a cricketer. The more people that come, the more it inspires me to do better and better"|
Chris Gayle made headlines for his batting but you picked up his wicket when you played the Royal Challengers Bangalore. It's the toughest question of all: how do you stop him?
He's a remarkable player, and he's shown that, but I know how to dry up his runs. I've bowled against him in the Bangladesh Premier League and in the IPL, and he's hit me for just one four. It's not easy but I know his strengths and I know his weaknesses, and when I bowl to his weaknesses, I know I can win the battle.
He doesn't try and hit every single ball. He picks the ones he wants to go for. He doesn't go from ball one, like some of the other batsmen.
How about solving one of the IPL's other mysteries - picking Sunil Narine. You didn't get to face him but what did you make of his performance for the Kolkata Knight Riders?
I don't think anyone can argue that he's a terrific talent. On a turning wicket he's basically unplayable. I stood behind the nets and watched him and I couldn't pick him at all. He can turn the ball both ways. I'm looking forward to seeing him in international cricket. There's no doubt that he is some kind of special talent who can go a long way in the game. It will be interesting to see how he goes. Some people might think he will fade out like Ajantha Mendis, but I think he might be different.
You went over to the IPL as an Englishman but there were relatively few of you out there. Owais Shah and Kevin Pietersen were the exceptions. Do you think more will follow as time goes by?
It's a tough one. It'd be nice to see more English players out there but that might not happen because of the international schedule, which is a shame. KP was amazing out in India. He made a stunning hundred, but he's been playing good cricket for a while now for England. The fans love him too.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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