Mumbai: Shaun Pollock is an important member of the Mumbai Indians' support staff. As mentor and bowling coach, Pollock is one of the busiest men during practice sessions - getting his men together and then putting them in various groups at the Wankhede Stadium.
The former South African captain swiftly moves from one net to the other to ensure the preparation is thorough for Mumbai Indians' opening game against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League at Chennai on April 4. Pollock took some time off after his session to speak to MiD DAY on Monday.
On being with Mumbai Indians (MI) from inception:
The way we do things now has changed. In the first IPL, it was just about getting people together and playing to the best of their abilities. The game plans are set now; the team is also settling down. There have been many changes, a lot of players have come and gone. It is exciting to see younger talent coming through. Ajinkya Rahane was with us and now represents India. It has been a nice journey.
On adding another wicketkeeper (Dinesh Karthik) to the side:
Karthik is an international player. He has done a good job in finishing games. He is an experienced cricketer, who knows Indian conditions well. We will be looking up to him to get us over the line by keeping a calm head and choosing the right shots. He has the ability to do that.
On managing high profile players:
It does take a managing process to handle them. They are class players who can win matches. We just have to make sure they are motivated throughout the tournament.
On giving tips to Tendulkar, Malinga:
There is very little that you teach Tendulkar about the game. It is difficult to coach someone like Malinga. He is unique in the way he approaches the game. You have got to learn where they are mentally and what they want to do preparation-wise. There are a few technical things we worked on Malinga. Sachin maybe, a bit of advice once in a while about the match, pitch etc. There is not much you can teach them.
On Tendulkar's 100th international ton:
Even if he had scored one in the IPL, it wouldn't have counted (laughs). Though I haven't spoken to him, I have heard some of his interviews where he says it's nice to get the monkey off his back. I am sure he is relieved, and there won't be any weight on his shoulders now. He mentioned how he wants to have fun. This format (T20) and playing for MI will help him do so. He can sometimes play like a kid, a bit carefree as there is no burden of expectations from the country.
On Mumbai Indians' opening woes:
There is no doubt that we have to get a good start. Unfortunately, Davy Jacobs got injured last season. Aiden Blizzard had a few good games. We haven't yet settled down with a regular opener with Sachin Tendulkar. We have Richard Levi now, and quite a few other options. It is important we have a steady partner with Sachin. We hope to find the right combination very soon.
On new T20 hero Richard Levi:
We discussed him as an option before the auction. We always thought he had the potential to do well. He has got that raw ability and if we can just hone it in the right direction, I am sure he can win many games for MI. He is an exciting prospect. We are fortunate enough to get him. We cannot compare him with Gayle.
On domestic and international scheduling affecting IPL preparation:
It is nice to have the guys prepared and sort things out. But at the end of the day, playing international cricket is the best preparation one can have. Your skills will be sharper. And when they come in, they can settle down quickly. It might take a little bit of adjustment initially.