Adaptability will be key in CLT20 - Kumble
Anil Kumble, the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, has said the speed at which teams adapt to the pitches in South Africa will be crucial to their success in a short tournament like the Champions League Twenty20. He also said it was too late to bring in Kevin Pietersen, who has no international commitments during the Champions League after being dropped from England's limited-overs squads.
The tournament will be played from September 10 to September 26 in South Africa. In most countries except England, the cricketing season usually kicks off in September or October, which means many sides will be rusty.
"It is the first tournament for a lot of teams," Kumble said after an interaction with more than 50 Bangalore fans on the eve of the team's departure from India. "In South Africa, it is the beginning of the season and it is the first game of the season for some of the players in RCB as well. The biggest challenge is how quickly you acclimatise to the conditions and the need to start well in the tournament."
Bangalore reached the finals of the IPL in 2009, when it was held in South Africa, and the team's coach and several players come from that country, giving them an advantage over other overseas teams. "We can take some confidence going to South Africa having done well there in IPL 2. Our coach Ray Jennings also understands the South African conditions well. With Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn around, those conditions should suit our bowling as well."
The team's batting is bolstered by heavy-hitters such as Ross Taylor and Cameron White, but they will miss the services of World Twenty20 Man of the Series Pietersen, who was their big-ticket signing last year. "It's a bit too late," Kumble said. "We had to announce our squad about a month ago, which we did."
Most IPL players signed three year contracts in 2008 that come to an end after the Champions League. It has been nearly two years since Kumble, who will turn 40 in October, announced his international retirement and he was unwilling to commit on how much longer he would continue to play the IPL.
"Once you retire, you have to take it one step at a time," he said. "So you don't plan and say that I am going to play for the next three years. Hopefully I will be in good shape for the six games this month and we come back victorious. That will be a great motivation to get into the next year. To think of the next year is very premature."
A week ahead of the Champions League, the cricketing headlines are dominated by the spot-fixing controversy in London. Kumble was confident the right steps would be taken to avoid such episodes during the tournament in South Africa. "Every tournament, every international match that happens is under a perceived threat," he said. "I don't think we need to be worried about these things but we can't close our eyes. ACSU is there to deal with it."
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo