Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Airtel CL T20 is a rare opportunity:Otago Volts captain Craig Cumming

Otago Volts are the only side representing New Zealand. They were beaten in both their Group C encounters, by Bangalore Royal Challengers and Cape Cobras.

Dominic Patrick Franks: Craig, you were drawn in a very tough Group, along with the Challengers and the Cobras. Is the team a little disappointed to be heading home so soon?
Craig Cumming: Yeah, obviously. But having said that we had to play two tough teams and we came up short against both of them. Andrew Puttick's century did us in in the first game and then the Challengers batted beautifully against us. We're a very confident side and we believed that if we played to our potential, we would do well. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

DPF: Are you excited by the entire premise of this tournament, the best first class cricketers in the world competing in a global club cricket tournament?
CC: It's absolutely fantastic. You're giving opportunities to the players to represent their provinces and states on a world stage and that means a lot to everyone. It's a very rare opportunity to do something like that. There are players who haven't played international cricket and are now getting to experience what they only see on TV in terms of international cricket and the IPL. Now they're a part of it. It's a lifetime experience that you could only dream about. I think the concept is amazing and it's something that will keep growing. I think all the teams here are keen to do well and when they go back home they'll want to win and qualify for next year's tournament.

DPF: How different is it for you as a cricketer playing for your province as opposed to playing for your country?
CC: I wouldn't say you're more proud than when you play for your country because everyone loves representing their country. But it's a different sort of passion playing for your province. You've played for them over a number of years and that's what got you onto the international stage. You have to play well for your province before you play international cricket. Now everyone's back representing their state side, or their provincial side, and it's very exciting.

DPF: How important are the monetary rewards that come with playing in a tournament of this stature?
CC: To be honest it's not about the financial rewards at all. It's the unique opportunity of playing in India while representing your province Otago. We wanted to make the most of that and play good cricket. There's really no thought of money when playing cricket in front of capacity crowds in great stadiums, and that is a reward in itself.

DPF: How big was it for the younger players in your team to play in India and experience first-hand the uniqueness of playing cricket over here in front of crowds that are probably double, maybe three times as large as they are back at home?
CC: That's probably one of the best experiences for the guys. But it's not only that; it's the whole culture of India, the fanatical crowds, the support you get, the welcomes you receive when you come to the hotels, the fantastic food, everything's great and it's just a pleasure to be here. And then there's playing cricket too. You get a lot of players who haven't been here, and they get to witness stuff and hear the noise that they think is there on telly but they're not so sure. It's certainly a pleasure to be here and to play cricket here and I think it can only be this great because it is India.

DPF: As a Kiwi cricketer, who probably isn't paid as well as say an Indian or an Australian cricketer, how happy are you that Twenty20 is throwing up all these different avenues where you can be paid substantially for exhibiting your skills?
CC: As I said before, for a tournament like this our players would come here for free. We came here for what the tournament is all about and to enjoy the experiences. Twenty20 cricket is exciting; it's about franchises, it's about tournaments. It's about players maybe going around the world and playing for different sides, but as soon as you turn up to the ground it's all about playing cricket. Every single player over here, when they turn up at the ground isn't worried about what they're getting paid. They just want to go out there and perform in front of fans. And for us New Zealanders, it gave us a unique opportunity to go out there and be a part of something that we normally only see on TV. It's certainly a format that I think is fantastic. I don't think anyone can predict, or say how far it's going to go. If it keeps being successful, and you keep getting fans then you just can't ignore that.

DPF: You just mentioned that no one can say how far T20 cricket is going to go. What's your personal opinion about the future of this format of the game?
CC: I'm a traditionalist and I think Test cricket is the ultimate test of cricket because of what it is - the skills that are involved, the patience and all those other kind of things. One day cricket has a place too. You saw the Champions Trophy and that was a huge hit and the players really enjoyed playing there, and then you have T20 which is a different format altogether. It's excitement, it's razzmatazz, everyone's on the go, and you can do that for three hours. Back in New Zealand, it gives families a chance to go out together for three hours and watch a game. We don't get the same sort of crowds as we do over here, but it's a good environment and people can leave the work place and go have a few quiet beers at the cricket ground. It's certainly got a place and with the tournaments that we have here like this one, it's fantastic. This is what T20 is made for I think.

DPF: It's a pity that we in India didn't get to see too much of what the Otago Volts are capable of, so before we end would you like to tell cricket fans around the world what the team is like?
CC: We are a side that is very proud of who we represent. We get a lot of support back home from people in Dunedin and we enjoy representing them. We have a lot of fun, we like to smile, we like to enjoy our cricket; we take cricket seriously but we don't take too much else seriously. If you're sitting on the team bus there'll be a lot of banter, and even if the New Zealand boys come back from the national team with a little bit of arrogance in them, it soon gets knocked out of them with a fair bit of abuse. It's a pretty friendly team that plays an exciting brand of cricket. Hopefully we'll win our domestic competition again and come back the next year and the Indian public will get to see a little more of us.

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