The former New Zealand allrounder Scott Styris spoke to the IBN network on the sidelines of the first season of the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) in Colombo. The 37-year old who plays his trade in England, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and New Zealand believes that like other major Twenty20 leagues around the world, the SLPL too will carve a niche for itself since it has made a good beginning. Excerpts from the interview …
How has playing in the inaugural SLPL been?
It’s been really good and making a big push to make it professional as possible. I have been talking to other players about this and they are really happy with the way things have gone. You can’t really be complacent in the first year. Let’s hope that this tournament keeps growing.
Obviously the IPL has set a different kind of benchmark and whenever a Twenty20 tournament happens it will invariably be compared with the IPL. So in that sense how do you see the SLPL?
Its completely unfair for any tournament to be compared to the IPL. The IPL is a different thing; its so much bigger than any other tournament and it’s unfair to match and compare the IPL to any other tournament. I would suggest [to the SLPL organisers) that you should not worry about the IPL as it’s not a fair comparison. The other leagues like the SLPL, BPL and even Big Bash League are something slightly different and maybe smaller in that regard, but they have done well too.
Sri Lanka is now a lot different from earlier tours. Are there are less security issues?
It’s been a lot of fun and as the security situation in this country has changed. I really enjoyed being in the changing room with a lot Sri Lankan boys saying how they go about playing cricket. Playing on Sri Lankan wickets and even picking the brains of [Kumar] Sangakkara and [Sanath] Jayasuriya who offer tips on playing [Mutthiah] Muralitharan and [Lasith] Malinga and all these guys. I think it’s really good for cricket around the world that all the players share their knowledge.
Do you miss the Indian players and particularly your Chennai Super Kings team-mates in this tournament?
Yes, they all are my friends now and you spend so much time with them and all the international players you play with. You look to catch up with them and still remain in touch with all the players after the tournament, and I think the best part of Twenty20 leagues is the friendship made in the game while playing and during the changing rooms chat.
You have spent a lot of time with MS Dhoni . What sets Dhoni apart from other Indian players?
I think it’s just like comparing the SLPL to the IPL. It’s unfair and hard to compare.
Is he still he is the best man to lead India?
I am not too sure since I haven’t followed India’s international cricket that closely to give you an informed opinion. I enjoy playing under him when I am at Chennai, that’s all I can say and tell you from experiences that he is tactically very good.
You played a lot of cricket under Stephen Fleming. Do you see do shades of Fleming in his captaincy? In terms of cool approach, being very calculated and not too aggressive from his body language?
Yes, I think one thing that they both have in common is that they speak right things at the right time. If they want to convey a message they will do in such a way that it would be very clear and give the guys the good directions. So personally, I think it’s the best skills in the trade a captain can have.
Talking about the New Zealand team which is currently touring India, do you miss being part of international cricket?
Yes, of course. We all try to play international cricket and win World Cups and Test series. Unfortunately, we also get old and want new players to come and play some good cricket. I have faith in this side and believe that they will do better in future tournaments, as a lot of them are very young and are just learning the game at the international level. In some time when the youngsters become seniors the team will become more competitive.
Are you concerned that they haven’t been very competitive in recent times in Test cricket and more so abroad?
Conditions in India are always difficult to play but they will improve in the Twenty20 games. I think their skills suit the white ball more.
With a lot of Twenty20 leagues coming up around the world, do you feel that allrounders like yourself will be more in demand? Is cricket no longer a specialist’s game
The million dollar question is - in which direction the game will go on? I am not too sure of being a big fan of the Twenty20 game, but I enjoy the fact that it brings out all the skills of a player. It’s an enjoyable format; players do enjoy playing in it. You get a result all the time. We have a champion at the end. But I would love for Test cricket to stay as a fine tradition. The history of the game is tough to repeat, tough to beat so whatever direction the game goes, I think both forms can coexist.