Exclusive - Salutes, Kings XI Punjab and IPL dream with Sheldon Cottrell

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Aug 10, 2020, 04.41 PM(IST) Written By: Subhayan Chakraborty

Exclusive - Salutes, Kings XI Punjab and IPL dream with Sheldon Cottrell Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

In an exclusive interview with WION’s Subhayan Chakraborty, Sheldon Cottrell talked about his time with the Jamaican Defence Force, time in lockdown, T20 cricket behind closed doors, CPL, IPL auction, Kings XI Punjab’s title ambitions, relationship with KL Rahul, working with Anil Kumble and more.  

Kings XI Punjab will have Caribbean blast in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 with the West Indies pacer Sheldon Cottrell joining the side after going for a whopping INR 8.5 crore in the auction. KXIP outbid the likes of Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals to bag the services of Cottrell, who has been the pick of the bowler for the West Indies in limited-overs cricket in the past few years. 

KXIP would be taking to the field in IPL 2020 to break their title drought and all eyes will be on Cottrell, who is eager to bring his iconic salute to the best T20 tournament in the world. Cottrell, who will next be seen for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020 before making his IPL debut for KXIP has won millions of hearts with his salutes while his devastating spells with the ball has been nothing short of a nightmare for batsmen. 

In an exclusive interview with WION’s Subhayan Chakraborty, Sheldon Cottrell talked about his time with the Jamaican Defence Force, time in lockdown, T20 cricket behind closed doors, CPL, IPL auction, Kings XI Punjab’s title ambitions, relationship with KL Rahul, working with Anil Kumble and more.  

 

Subhayan Chakraborty: Welcome to WION, Sheldon. How has been life in the past five months? A welcome break, perhaps?

Sheldon Cottrell: Thanks for having me. Life in past five months have been a bit up and down. As you know, in the pandemic, I haven’t gotten the training that I would have liked to get. But then I welcomed the rest and time spent with the family. It’s devastating to see what is going around the world. My heart goes out to all the COVID-19 patients and all the lives it has the affected. But on the other hand, it is really good to have home time. Your mental strength is really important when you are playing a high pressure sport such as cricket. So it is good when you can just relax and kick your field up.

Subhayan: Before I move to cricket, tell us something about your experience with Jamaican Defence Force. You served JDF for more than a decade…did that experience help you in becoming the person or professional you are right now?

Sheldon Cottrell: Yes, absolutely! Being in the Jamaican Defense Force, it instills discipline and I have been there when I was like 17 going on to 18. So I was basically a youngster. It instills discipline, teach about life. It made me focus on what I wanted in life. When I joined the Army, one of my instructors told me to use the Army as a stepping stone. I didn’t understand the meaning then but when I became a senior member in the Army then I understood what he meant – use the Army to learn discipline, courage and whatever else you gain in the Army and transfer it to life in general. 

Subhayan: So how did cricket happen? Was it an instant success or did you toil hard to polish up your skills?

Sheldon Cottrell: I was actually a all-rounder sportsperson. I was a genuine athlete, to tell you the truth. I started playing before JDF happened. But with the JDF, I used the physical training to be fit for cricket. So cricket was always there for me but Army came first for me always. 

It was far from instant success, to tell you the truth (laughs). I don’t think many people know this but I never played any form of youth cricket growing up. And I have been playing cricket when I was 12-13. I went to the Under-19 trials for two years, that is the Jamaica Under-19 trials and didn’t make it. The first time I got picked in the reserves and I was super happy. And the second time, I was like I am surely going to make into the team and I didn’t make the cut there. I remember my mum was also excited and she was positive about it. I remember going home and she was waiting for me and she was like ‘did you make it to the team?’ and I broke down crying and that was the first time I cried like that. It wasn’t that easy for me, especially in Jamaica where you have a lot of talent. But getting to understand my game, getting to believe more in myself because I never believed in myself. People kept on telling me ‘hey, you can play for the West Indies, you are a great player’. But at the time, I was playing merely for fun, without even thinking about it. But with the time, I have become better. 

Subhayan: You have had great success in white-ball cricket but have played just two Tests for the West Indies. Do you feel you should have played more Test cricket for the team? 

Sheldon Cottrell: Honestly, no. Because I know the team that went to India was the best team in the Caribbean at that time. And I haven’t played first-class cricket that much, I want to play the white-ball version. I wasn’t irked but then if I had played the regional four-day and had done well, then that was a different case. I think the team that went to England was the best team. 

Sheldon Cottrell

Subhayan: And did you ever think that you could have done better than what the West Indies bowler did against England?

Sheldon Cottrell: I wouldn’t have said that. Obviously, I can say that as I watched the matches! But I have been out of the format for so long. I wish I was there, to tell you the truth (laughs). But no, I would never say that I would have done better than the guys who were there. But I would have loved to be there.

Subhayan: And what’s your take in T20 tournaments being played in limited stadiums. CPL will be played in just two stadiums, IPL in just three…Do you think fast bowlers will struggle as the pitches tire out later in the tournament?

Sheldon Cottrell: I don’t think the bowlers are going to struggle overall. My take is that batters are going to struggle a bit. After watching most of cricket that is going on, we can say the bowlers have done pretty well, to be honest. As pitches get slower, there is a lot of variety a bowler can use. So if a bowler can keep working on his craft then there will be no problem in adapting to pitches. 

Subhayan: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots have seen so many last moment changes. Fabian Allen missed out, Dennis Bulli and head coach Simon Helmot have unfortunately tested positive for the coronavirus and even the assistant coach is unavailable. Do you feel it will affect the team in the tournament?

Sheldon Cottrell: Somewhat…because after the draft, you lock a certain team and staff for the tournament and if some guys pull out then it can affect the team and planning. But as a professional cricketer, I think it shouldn’t affect that much. When you go to the field and give your 110 per cent, it shouldn’t be a problem. And once you are off the field knowing that you gave it your all then it shouldn’t be affect you much irrespective of the result. 

Subhayan: Dennis Bulli, you senior in the Jamaican Defence Force, was all set to share the field with you for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. How do you rate him as a cricketer?

Sheldon Cottrell: He is a wonderful cricketer. I can vouch for him. I have seen him grow over the years, physically and mentally. I know where he is coming from to where he is at now. I respect him for showing the fight that he has shown over the years to come this far. I was really looking forward to play with him but unfortunately, he is back home. But I am sure he will here next year and we will play together whether for the West Indies, CPL or even IPL. 

Sheldon Cottrell and Dennis Bulli

Subhayan: And what’s your take on tournaments like CPL and IPL being played in front of empty stands?

Sheldon Cottrell: I can speak for myself. In the Caribbean, in domestic cricket, we play in front of empty stands, honestly speaking. So I don’t think it will be a problem for me. Just knowing that the fans would be at home, watching from the television. And I know the Patriots fans would be behind the team and that’s all I need. So I am going to keep on saluting. I am more worried about taking wickets more than the empty stands. 

Subhayan: Have you set any targets for yourself in CPL?

Sheldon Cottrell: Not really. But one thing I always say to myself. I always try and better the previous season. So last year I took 12 wickets and I am going to try and get more than that. Once I have surpassed it, that will be mission accomplished for me. Anything more will be bonus. But knowing myself, if I get 12 in say four games, then I will keep pushing myself. So I always want to set the benchmark higher and higher.  

Sheldon Cottrell

Subhayan: Another important thing for which the cricket world has stood up in unity is the Black Lives Matter Movement. Be it the England-West Indies series or South Africa’s 3TC, players and officials have joined hands to come together in this battle against racism. Are you willing to take a knee in CPL and IPL to show your stand against racism?

Sheldon Cottrell: I have never experienced racism before. But I know it is for real and totally against it (racism) in any ways or form. We are all human beings and only thing I know to show is love. I don’t care where you are from. I don’t care what’s your skin colour. Only thing I know is loving others. I have grown to understand that some people are different but you don’t need to treat them different. About the knee, if required, I will, to be honest. I won’t oppose because I am with the movement and for the movement. For once, you have the platform, where you can exercise your beliefs, there’s nothing wrong with it. I think that’s the best stage. Kaepernick did it. A lot of people after him did it. And it is something I don’t have a problem with. 

×

Subhayan: Coming to IPL, did you watch the auction?

Sheldon Cottrell: Somewhat! I was in a hotel room with Evin Lewis. So I watched everyone’s auction before me and I was comfortable watching it. But then when my turn came I was like ‘oh man!’. And when I was heard the first bid on me, I just went to the balcony and I was like ‘yes!’. I didn’t want to see it anymore, I wanted to see just one bid, to be honest. ‘Yes, I am going to play in the IPL!’. But then two minutes after the bidding was still going, I took a peek and Evin Lewis was more excited than I was. I was just nervous. But yes, it was a great feeling. I can never forget that feeling and moment ever in my life. 

Subhayan: And how much are you looking forward to play in the IPL?

Sheldon Cottrell: I am really looking forward to it. I have been waiting for this for all my cricketing career, to tell you the truth. But more eagerly in the past four to five months. I have been ready mentally and physically. Even with the lockdown, I have been keeping myself in shape. Ready. Just in case the call comes. So I am totally ready and can’t wait to go onto the park with the Kings XI Punjab. 

Sheldon Cottrell KXIP

Subhayan: How do you assess the squad? Can Kings XI Punjab end the title drought this time?

Sheldon Cottrell: Most definitely! We have got some young players and senior players as well so it is a great mixture. I can see the team coming together and be a champion team. But as you know, cricket is played on the day. And honestly, I am looking forward to bring that energy, that passion and everything that is associated with the name Cottrell to that team and my knowledge. So yes, I am looking forward to the IPL. 

Subhayan: You will join your fellow Jamaican player and a legend of the game, Chris Gayle in the squad…

Sheldon Cottrell: Chris Gayle is a wonderful guy. As you know, he is a cool customer. I mean a master blaster, he is a murderer of the cricket ball. And thankfully, I won’t be bowling to him (laughs) and will be in the dugout blasting it all over the park. 

Subhayan: And how much are you looking to work under Anil Kumble?

Sheldon Cottrell: Really, really looking forward to working with Anil Kumble. I love working with the former players and legends of the game. Just try and pick their brains and to know how they became such great players. There must be something he did it back then to become such a great player in this sport. In cricket, you have more bad days than good days, to tell you the truth. And to become great, you have to be exceptional. I love picking the brain of legendary players and I am going to pick his brain. Even though he is a spinner and I am fast bowler but that doesn’t matter. 

 

Subhayan: What are your thoughts on KL Rahul? Another tremendous player…

Sheldon Cottrell: KL Rahul and I became really close when India last toured the West Indies. We talked a bit and I find him to be a really cool guy. He is a wonderful cricketer, cool customer and I am just looking forward to play under his captaincy. Even though he is a young cricketer, I am still going to learn a few things from him because he has been playing in the IPL for quite some time. There’s nothing like for a bowler to hear it from a batsman’s perspective. So I am looking forward to probably trade some information with him. 

Subhayan: So Sheldon, all set to bring your salutes to the IPL?

Sheldon Cottrell: Absolutely! I mean I have been eagerly waiting to salute in the IPL a lot. We have probably the best line-up in the IPL where fast bowling is concerned. I am looking forward to shine. At the end of the day, cricket is a team sport but mostly, it is about individual performances. As I said before, as long as I can give my 110-120 per cent, I will be pleased with myself.

Sheldon Cottrell

Subhayan: Any targets for you before IPL starts?

Sheldon Cottrell: As this is my first season in IPL, my target will be to go there and give my all. Do whatever the team requires. I am going to enjoy, to tell you the truth, one thing in cricket, once you have enjoyed it, most times you are going to do well. Just not feel pressured and relax and be myself.

Subhayan: What will be your message to the fans who will watching CPL or IPL from their home?

Sheldon Cottrell: I know you all will be supporting us back from your home. One thing, I want to say, just stay safe and enjoy the cricket. And look forward to the salutes because I am hungry for wickets. I have been out for the past four months, I am hungry right now. So wait for lots of salutes.