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IPL 2019: Hiding the ball is something that I and Narine have been working on, Says KKR’s Spin Consultant Carl Crowe


Kolkata Knight Riders’ spin department is one of the most vaunted spin departments in the Indian Premier League. With the likes of Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, KC Cariappa and Kuldeep Yadav in their roster, the two-time IPL champions don’t seem to have any dearth of variety as far as their spin unit is concerned.

Supervising this variegated group of spinners is England’s Carl Crowe, who was appointed KKR’s spin consultant back in 2016. Addressing the media on the sidelines of KKR’s practice session at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday afternoon, the former Leicestershire cricketer said that his spin unit has the potential to challenge any team. “If you look at the four or five spinners that we have, they are all proven performers. It is great to see KC (Cariappa) joining the squad. I have seen him bowl for three to four days now. It’s always good to have expectations; [it] means you are working with the top players, so you want to have that pressure on you because you are playing in the biggest T20 league in the world”, Crowe said.

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Sunil Narine (Photo by Faheem Hussain/SPORTZPICS/BCCI/IPL)

When Sunil Narine was suspended for a suspect bowling action by the ICC in November 2015, it was Crowe who was approached by the KKR management to personally attend to the Windies off-spinner and help him remodel his action. In fact, it was his coming into the picture, which is believed to be one of the primary reasons behind Narine’s resurrection. “I think Narine is in great shape heading into this year’s IPL. He didn’t play in the PSL owing to a finger injury.

He had a great start in the IPL in his first two seasons and he has maintained his performance level throughout his IPL career. His batting is also a major part of his game now, but when you modify your action, it gets difficult to match past performances. Credit to him for having been able to do that”, he added. Narine’s all-round performance was one of the main reasons why the Dinesh Karthik-led side made the playoffs last season. He scored 357 runs and picked up 17 wickets in IPL 2018.

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When asked whether Sunil Narine, who has been left out of the West Indies team since 2017, should be considered for the World Cup, Crowe replied, “He hasn’t played fifty-overs cricket for quite a while, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to play for the West Indies. It is something we are aware of and looking forward to.’’

Sunil Narine (Photo by Rahul Gulati/ SPORTZPICS/BCCI/IPL)

‘Mystery spinners’ are deemed of the most priceless assets for any T20 team. How difficult is it for bowlers like Narine to keep the ‘mystery’ element intact, despite playing T20 cricket all around the globe throughout the year? “With a detailed analysis and close scrutiny, it’s very difficult to keep it intact and we are aware of that. Last season, he (Narine) changed his action slightly in terms of hiding the ball, and it is a thing we are still working on, in order to stay ahead of the batsmen. Even after the IPL, we will continue to work on subtleties like gripping the ball, hiding the ball and look for new ways of hiding [the ball] and making things complicated for the batsmen”, the forty-three-year-old candidly said.

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Sunil Narine (Photo by BCCI/IPL)

So, how did Crowe manage to bring about the change in Narine’s action? “It’s quite a long story and I’ve said it many times before. Maybe, I can narrate it once again over dinner someday! Whenever people face difficulties regarding their action, not in terms of legality but in terms of their efficiency, I advise them to rectify their hip positions and bring the whole body into play before delivering the ball, and get that chain working from the ground upwards”, Crowe revealed.

Crowe also rates Kuldeep Yadav very highly. The chinaman bowler has become one of the most potent match-winners for India across all formats in recent times. Crowe feels that it is Kuldeep’s calmness—both on and off the field—which has contributed largely to his success. “He has been around with KKR for over five years now, and I’ve worked with him a lot. I think it his ability to stay grounded, which has made him so successful at the international level. You need to have a big heart as a spinner and Kuldeep is not at all afraid to go for runs. I completely agree with that. If you look at him closely, if you scrutinise him, you’ll find that even if he gets hit for runs in his first couple of overs, he will continue to bowl in the same manner. What you see from outside is whether he is capable of spinning the ball a good deal or not, but what you don’t see is his internal calmness. If you are able to bowl to people like Virat (Kohli) and AB (de Villiers) without betraying any sort of fear, it means you are bound to taste success, and I think Kuldeep is a guy who has all these ingredients in him”, Crowe said.