Shane Warne, the Rajasthan Royals captain, has named Kamran Khan, a 18-year-old rookie left-arm fast bowler, as one of the players to watch out for in the IPL starting in Cape Town on Saturday. Warne has also provided fresh insights into his relationship with Graeme Smith, a bitter rival once but an IPL team-mate now, and reiterated his controversial theory that an international team doesn't need a coach.
Warne, whose captaincy was a revelation during last year's IPL when he galvanised a bunch of not-so-famous players into a winning combination, insisted that he did not regret missing out on being Australia captain.
He shared his shortlist of Rajasthan's potential stars of this IPL with the South Africa-based Sunday Times newspaper and included Kamran, who bowled just one over against Cape Cobras in a warm-up on Saturday, alongside India players Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan. Indian media reported that Kamran, who bowled Cobras' Justin Ontong with an off-stump yorker in that over, is the son of a woodcutter who gained his shoulder strength from cutting wood in Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh in north India. He is yet to play first-class cricket and was reportedly signed by Rajasthan Royals for Rs12 lakh (US$24,000) a year after Darren Berry, the assistant coach, spotted him at a local tournament in Mumbai.
The team, which had nicknames for each player to pin down his role in the side, is reportedly on the verge of finalising one for Kamran. "We've got one young player who's going to be very interesting," Warne said. "We're tossing up now what his nickname is going to be -- Wild Thing or Tornado, something like that. Kamran Khan is a young kid, a left-armer, a slinger, he doesn't speak much English at the moment. He's a tiny little guy but he bowls 140 plus. Another guy to look out for is Ravindra Jadeja. He played last year, did enough but he's had another year of experience. Then there's Yusuf Pathan. He was dynamite last year, he just destroys medium-pace and spin bowling. He and Andrew Symonds are two of the cleanest hitters I've ever seen."
Smith was also important to his plans for a lot of reasons, Warne said. "One is that he's another captain to bounce ideas off," he said. "When I'm bowling, he's someone to keep an eye on the field. When I'm talking to a bowler he's making sure the best fielders are in the right spots. I think he enjoys the IPL as well, just having the opportunity and the freedom to go out and bat without the responsibility of anything else. For us, being in South Africa and having the captain of South Africa in our side is a huge advantage."
He said he had become "good buddies" with Smith after spending some time together during the inaugural IPL, and added that the latter had matured as a captain, too. "We had a few beers after the first game and chatted about a lot of stuff," he said. "We hung out a fair bit. We've kept in touch since then and become good buddies. They [South Africa] have done well. He's matured a bit too. He came in at a young age and wanted to try and mix it. He didn't want to take a backward step. He was so verbal and public about everything. We won 5-0 [in 2005/06] and I said to him the other day, when something's not working, try to do something else. Don't just continue and let the ego get in the way. He said, 'yeah, yeah, I've learned my lesson'. He learned a lot about himself and how things work. He's matured into a good captain."
Warne also insisted his views on international coaching had not changed even years after his controversial rift with John Buchanan, the former Australia coach.
"The only reason I'm coach is because the Royals don't really have a coach," he said. "I'm just the captain, really. I've got two assistants who do a good job in Darren Berry and Jeremy Snape. Darren looks after practice while I get around and speak to individuals and Snapey floats around, helps guys prepare and does some one-on-one stuff. Captains should always run the cricket. At international level I don't think you need a coach. At domestic level you need a coach."
He said he had no regrets about not being Australia captain but added he enjoyed captaincy. "I'd be sitting in a straitjacket in a padded cell if I started regretting everything that happened in my life," he said. "I never chased the captaincy. If I'd had the opportunity it would have been great but I don't look back and think about it. I've captained the Royals, Hampshire, Victoria and Australia in one-day matches. People can see the way I captain. I enjoy being captain and it brings out the best in me."