New Zealand all-rounder Grant Elliott featured in the just-concluded Bangladesh Premier League Twenty20 2016-17 season for Chittagong Vikings, who exited in the playoffs against Rajshahi Kings.
took an exclusive interview of the 37-year old Kiwi who spoke at length of his playing career, T20 experiences and the BPL 4 season, among other topics. Here are the excerpts:
You have played in several T20 leagues around the world. You have featured for teams like Surrey, Quetta Gladiators and St Lucia Zouks. In comparison, how do you rate the BPL?
There are some exciting overseas players here. They have lifted the standard. But the local players are the ones that have really excelled in this league. It's good for Bangladesh cricket. They can use the knowledge from the overseas players here. I think it is great for the growth of any country that has a league like this. Recently, I have played in the Caribbean and some young players are coming through there who played with the likes of Michael Hussey, Morne Morkel and David Miller. Young guys can actually go to them and also learn a lot of things about how they can get better. I think the overseas players have to take ownership of that. And they have to try to help the younger guys to develop their cricket in every country they play.
You are one of the senior players in the Chittagong Vikings squad. Is it right to say that you are carrying the torch here?
I am not the only one here. You have got Chris Gayle here, Dwayne Smith, even Mohammad Nabi and Shoaib Malik. I think we have a lot of experience from different areas of the world. Shoaib is someone I grew up with. I played against him when he played for Pakistan under-19. So I know him through my whole career. He is a very highly respectable player to other guys as he has performed outstandingly well over the years.
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Elliott celebrates with his Chittagong team mates DHAKA TRIBUNE
Any players in the Chittagong squad who have impressed you?
Obviously Tamim Iqbal. I have played with Tamim for Wellington [Firebirds, in 2012]. He is a fantastic player and a great leader. He is performing really well this year. And there is Taskin [Ahmed]. Taskin is someone who really wants to be one of the best in the world in future.
You played against Bangladesh in the 2015 World Cup. The Tigers are playing really well in recent times. With that said, it will be a big challenge for them when they tour New Zealand. However, isn't it true that the Kiwis will also find it challenging?
Yes, it will be a challenge for the Kiwis. And as for Bangladesh, it will be a tough tour. There is always a big challenge for a sub-continent team to play away series there. The cricket pitches are different and you have to adapt quickly. The senior players of Bangladesh have to stand up strongly. Bangladesh have some big players like Tamim, Shakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim. They have to play well there for good results.
Did you always dream of becoming a cricketer?
Yes I did actually. I used to play cricket with my brother in the backyard when I was six years old. During the 1992 World Cup, I had decided that I want to play cricket. I was in South Africa at that time. And South Africa was just being re-admitted to international cricket at that time. For me, that was really exciting. Colour clothing, white ball, etc attracted me to become a cricketer.
Did you have any role models while growing up?
There are so many people along the way to help you in your career. I guess you just don’t have one role model. There are different role models at different times in your life. Someone like Nelson Mandela is an unbelievable person and a great character. In my time in South Africa, Clive Rice and Brian McMillan and later on, Jacques Kallis were the role models. And obviously Graeme Pollock; someone who is highly regarded in South Africa. Jackie McGlew was my coach. He captained South Africa in the 1960s. Then in New Zealand, I have played with Stephen Fleming and later on, Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum. So in different stages of your life you have different people that have impact on your life and career.
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Elliott praised the leadership of former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, saying it was a pleasure to play under his stewardship COURTESY
New Zealand have produced some legendary captains like Martin Crowe and Fleming. Brendon was also a great captain and you played under him. What are your thoughts on his captaincy?
Brendon was quite relaxed. He gave the players what they wanted in order to improve. And then it was up to the players to take ownership of that and go as far as they possibly can to become a world-class player. It felt like there was no pressure in the change-room. It was always excitement. And Brendon just demanded a player to go out there and express himself. His message was “You just play the way you naturally play”. Obviously we had key roles and a good strategy for the team. Guys were put in certain positions to perform specific roles. But the way Brendon manages people; he is a great people manager and just very good with the guys and knows how to get the best out of the players.
You recently retired from ODIs but not yet from T20Is. Do you want to continue playing the shortest format for the Kiwis?
Yes. If I get picked up I will play. I love to play for my country. But there is also a time when you think that a young guy should take over the place. I felt that after we won the Chappell–Hadlee Trophy in February this year. I just roamed around the change-room and decided that it’s time for me to move on and for a younger guy to grab that position as there are some exciting players coming up in New Zealand.
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Elliott has listed the 2015 World Cup final loss against co-hosts Australia as his only regret COURTESY
Despite playing ever so well, New Zealand fell short against Australia in the 2015 World Cup final. Any regrets?
I don’t regret many things in my life but this one thing I do regret. At the 35-over mark, we were 150/3. We recovered pretty well. Myself and Ross [Taylor] were batting well. At that stage of the game, we were in a great position and Australia were under a lot of pressure. We were looking at a score of 270, minimum. And then we had a mini-collapse and eventually lost the final. I think we played all the games in New Zealand and then went to Australia to play the final. It could have been nice to prepare there for a bit longer and get used to the condition for a touch longer. But we were lucky to play all the games in New Zealand and we can’t complain about that. It was a magnificent tournament for us. Probably the thing that stood up for me was, you know, what a great team we were. Everyone in the team was sort of playing for each other.
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Elliott poses with former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd after being adjudged player of the match following their 2015 World Cup semi-final victory against South Africa COURTESY
You scored an unbeaten, match-winning 84 against South Africa in the 2015 World Cup semi-final. Was that your best innings for the Kiwis?
Probably. I don’t think there is just one sort of innings to pick the best one. There are few. There was an innings of 60 not out at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). That was on a quite difficult wicket. We won the game. I think any game you finish not out as a middle-order batsman and you win the game, then you can feel like, Ok, I have done my job. Another innings was in the 2009 Champions Trophy against Pakistan (75 not out). And also the main thing is that you contribute for the team. If you make a contribution and the team wins, that’s just a fantastic feeling.
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The Kiwi all-rounder thinks his 75 not out against Pakistan in the 2009 Champions Trophy is one of his best ever knocks COURTESY
You have played first-class cricket and different formats for more than 20 years. What is your suggestion to a young kid who wants to be a cricketer?
Actually it depends on the skill-set and the mindset of the player. For someone like me, I was not a great concentrator. So four-day cricket or Test matches never really suited me. I could have learned that. But I just preferred white-ball cricket. I like the fact that there is a result in a one-day match. You will know who won and lost at the end of the day. I never saw the point of playing five days or four days of cricket for a draw and getting a hundred. I felt like it was a pointless exercise. But that was just me. Suggestion for a young player? I think it depends on the aptitude of the player. I mean a lot of players like to play T20-style these days. Cricket is going to change drastically and dramatically over time. And even in Test cricket, you can see now that players are scoring at a quicker rate. So there is no reason why you can’t prepare to play all three formats of the game and play in a very similar pattern.