Interview with Abey Kurvilla

Mumbai bowler Abey Kuruvilla, who almost made the Indian touring squad to the RSA, was interviewed from Mumbai on the IRC channel #crickettalk on Dec 28,1996. Badrinarayan Seshadri (Badri on IRC) conducted the interview with assistance from Shashin Shah who acted as channel moderator. At the time of this interview the final stages of the Australia vs West Indies third test at Melbourne were taking place.

Cric8wala: Hi Abey. Welcome to IRC. Do you agree with the label we've given you, "the best fast bowler never to have played for India, yet" ?

Kuruvilla: No comments!

Badri:(He smiles and says no comments.)

vishal: Do you prefer to go flat out for 6-7 overs or prefer longer spells concentrating on line and length?

Kuruvilla: Go flat out for 6-7 overs. It depends on the wicket. If it is a flat wicket, then go for a longer spell.

garfield: Do you think it is premature for Johnson to get the chance he is getting?

Kuruvilla: No comments!

nayak: How did you feel not to be included in the team for RSA?

Kuruvilla: I am used to it (ie., not being selected for a tour!).

DiscoDed: What is the fastest track in India that you have played on? Do you feel we need more speed wickets?

Kuruvilla: Valsad wicket in Gujarat - it is more of a seaming wicket. Quite a few games I have played there. One against Gujarat.

Badri: What about the wicket in Calicut? (This was the match in which Abey got 5 wickets in an innings against the touring West Indies.)

Kuruvilla: That wicket was under-prepared. Not a good wicket.

Cric8wala: BTW, Valsad game against Gujarat, that Abey commented on:

        Ranji Trophy West Zone league 1995-96.
        Gujarat v Bombay.
        Sardar Patel Stadium, Valsad.
        13,14,15 December 1995.
    Bowling                      O      M      R      W
    Kuruvilla                   17.5    2     68      3
    Kuruvilla                   16      3     44      5
Badri: how about the wickets in Vengsarkar's ELF Academy?

Kuruvilla: The wicket is very hard and plays true and is good for the batsmen as well as bowlers, if you put some effort you do well.

Badri: How would you compare the wickets in Mohali, Calcutta, and now Kingsmead?

Kuruvilla: The Calcutta wicket was a batsmen's wicket, and India played poorly. Kingsmead wicket has no comparison in India. It is fast and hard, no pitch in India will be like that. If India provides wickets like Kingsmead, it will be good for our batsmen, they will have the experience in playing in pitches like that.

Cric8wala: What kind of tracks do you believe best suit your bowling? Do you prefer bouncy tracks to seaming ones that don't bounce as much? (what is your opinion of the Wankhede wicket, from 2 years ago, when Bombay won the Ranji Trophy ? )

Kuruvilla: Bouncy wickets. We (MCA) prepare hard wickets that helps seamers in the first two days (over the last two years).

azzie: In terms of your career, how do you feel about the way you are bowling now? I think you had a terrific domestic season around '92 and then a good season last year as well, do you think your bowling has progressed or matured during the past few years?

Cric8wala: (note: in 1992-93, Abey took 53 wickets in the domestic season. Last season Abey had 21 wickets in the Ranji season, at an average of 19.9 odd)

Kuruvilla: I have learnt more control and variation now. I have become more accurate now than what I was.

nittas: Can you reverse swing the ball? What does your typical practice day look like?

Kuruvilla: There is no big deal about that. If it is a slightly old ball and has one side that is rough, you can reverse swing the ball. Nobody can say that he can reverse swing every ball. The problem is in controlling the reverse swing. If a ball starts reverse swinging, it doesn't mean that it keeps on doing like that for the next 20-25 overs. It stops reverse swinging after some time. It is more difficult to play the reverse swing because the batsman is expecting the ball to behave in one way and the ball suddenly dips in at the last minute.

vishal: Which is your most memorable game and season?

Kuruvilla: In Duleeps, against North Zone in 1992 finals (please check if it is 1992-93 or 1991-92). West lost the game, but I bowled well.

Cric8wala: 1991/92 Duleep Trophy finals, Jan 21-25 1992. at Valsad - the favourite ground :-) - NZ 279 a.o.(Kuruvilla 3-60) & 393 a.o.(Kuruvilla 6-98).

Shash: Can u tell us a bit about Ajit Agarkar and his potential to bowl at international level?

Kuruvilla: He is Mumbai U-19 captain. He has played for Mumbai this year (in 2 games). He plays for Tata. He is a very good all-rounder. You can't judge his pace, he is quite skiddy. He is a very talented batsman. Wasim Jaffer is very good too.

Phaedrus: What do you think needs to be done to make Indian fast bowling competitive in the future ? And, especially in light of the current debacle in RSA, to teach Indian batting to cope with genuine pace?

Kuruvilla: Indian pace bowling is quite competitive now. Our opening bowling pair is one of the best now. Donald got wickets for RSA but his opening partners weren't that good. After the Pakistani opening pair, Indians are there next considering the upcoming pairs. (that is Ambrose/Walsh excepted because of that!) Pollock is good but he didn't bowl well yesterday. We were playing in India on absolutely turning tracks but within a week we had to go and play on absolutely fast wickets. So it is not easy to adjust very quickly. Even the South Africans who are used to the wickets didn't adjust all that well and scored only 235. So I guess that answers the question?

DiscoDed: Please comment on Lillee's Academy (coaching). Did you ever get advice from him?

Kuruvilla: I haven't been to that. I don't know anything about that.

azzie: Who would you rate as the best batsmen you have bowled to? And the best batsmen in general that you have seen, regardless of if you have bowled to them? Also who do you rate as the finest bowler you have seen?

Kuruvilla: Sachin Tendulkar. Wasim Akram (bowling)

Badri: Some people say that Prasad shouldn't be in the team at all ahead of other fast bowlers in India. What are your comments?

Kuruvilla: If someone says that that means he doesn't know any cricket.

Cric8wala: Who are the best *young* openers in India in your view ? How would you analyze Wasim Jaffer and Amit Pagnis, strengths and weaknesses? (And, even though he's not an opener, Amol Muzumdar ?) Actually, young batsmen and young bowlers to watch out for, in general?

Kuruvilla: Wasim & Amol are good players on the backfoot. Amol is a middle order batsman. Opening and coming in the middle order are two different concepts. No other name comes to mind right now.

Cric8wala: You don't agree with the moving middle order batsmen to open, then ? Mongia and Dravid?

Kuruvilla: It was a makeshift move. It was not a permanent move

Cric8wala: If you were bowling to Amol or Jaffer, what would you concentrate on ? Any weaknesses they need to work on, in your opinion ?

Kuruvilla: I concentrate on bowling at the good length, irrespective of who the player is, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

nittas:: How quick do you reckon Srinath really is? Quick enough to be labeled "fast"? How does he compare to Donald/Akram/Ambrose/Waqar?

Kuruvilla: At least in some spells Srinath can bowl as quick as the others mentioned. He is one of the fastest bowlers in the world.

azzie: And in terms of speed how do you rate your own bowling?

Kuruvilla: I don't know.

(Meanwhile from channel #cricket ...

<Aus-WI> 10.1 GM - BL: OUT!
<Aus-WI> Lara caught
<Aus-WI> Lara c Hayden b McGrath 2
<Aus-WI> caught at cover point)
Kuruvilla: Is the 3rd wicket the 100th one for McGrath?

Cric8wala: yep, he was on 99

Badri: (Abey says it could be his 100th wicket...) He also says the match is getting very interesting.

azzie: He was on 98 before this innings.

(Editors note: The Lara dismissal was McGrath's 101st wicket, he having already claimed his 100th earlier by dismissing Robert Samuels.)

Kuruvilla: We are watching the scorecard on another machine here.

kamal: What kind of mentoring is provided by senior cricketers like Gavaskar & Kapil for upcoming cricketers? Do you feel the necessity to have a Cricket Academy like in Australia?

Kuruvilla: I think something of that sort (a cricket academy) is coming up in India.

kamal: Can you provide details?

Kuruvilla: There is a plan going on. No idea where it is going to be.

shariq: Abey I was wondering what do you do to stay in shape? Do you do weight training? Do you watch your diet? Do you do short sprints or do you run long distances to build endurance? Are you a vegetarian?

Kuruvilla: I am not a vegetarian. Off-season, I do some training like weight training long distance running etc.

chan: What are the strengths and weaknesses in your bowling ? Which area do you feel that you should improve if any ?

Kuruvilla: Accuracy. There might be lots of weaknesses, but can't think of any right now.

Cric8wala: Do you think there is a bit of an attitude against genuinely fast bowling in India ? I mean when you're young, do coaches tell you to bowl with control rather than flat out fast etc? And selectors pick medium pacers who might be more controlled and hit less, than the faster bowlers who might pick up the extra wicket now and then?

Kuruvilla: Probably that was the case previously. Now that is not the case, they encourage you to bowl fast, go flat out that is.

Shash: Is Mumbai going to win the Ranjis this year and bring the trophy back to where it rightfully belongs? :-)

Kuruvilla: Yes! We topped the league and we are going to the Superleague. We still don't know who all we will be playing in the superleague

nittas: Abey it's thrilling to be talking to you. Why do you feel we have had problems producing fast bowlers in the past as opposed to Pakistan? Diet? Genes? Killer Instinct?

Kuruvilla: No comments.

kamal: Who is the best coach for fast bowling in India? Where do you pick up techniques for bowling? For example, how does one pick up how to bowl reverse swing?

Kuruvilla: Balwinder Singh Sandhu in Bombay. Sandhu is the Bombay coach. He helps out when you have problems etc.

poutine: Your comments on Obaid Kamal and Iqbal Siddiqui...How good are they?

Badri: Abey says that he saw Shane Warne get out to an absolutely brilliant catch by Adams

Kuruvilla: Obaid swings the ball a lot. not much pace. Iqbal went from Maharashtra to Hyderabad. Now he is back playing for Maharashtra.

azzie: In this vein of rating people, who are the best fast bowling prospects in the country in your opinion? Any opinions on the young Delhi bowlers (since I am from Delhi I had to ask this :-)) like Oneill Wilson and Robin Singh.

Kuruvilla: I haven't seen them at all. Robin Singh(Delhi) is picking wickets and people say he is good. Oneill Wilson is playing in his first season this year.

Cric8wala: Any young pacemen in Bombay ? Saw Robin Morris got a "best bowler" award a couple days ago - what do you think of his pace and ability ?

Kuruvilla: He got the award for the 'revenue shield' matches

Cric8wala: Since you were mentioning coaches, what are your views on Frank Tyson ? Do you believe the MCA should bring him in to Bombay every year ?

Kuruvilla: Tyson was here in October for 4 weeks at the ELF Academy. Vengsarkar (ELF) had brought him and not MCA. I was playing most of the time then so didn't really go there Tyson took me to Australia in 1991. I was training there for 9 weeks in Melbourne I was there during the winter. So we practiced indoors. Tyson is a very good coach. This time (Oct) he was with the u-19 and u-16 boys here.

Badri: Do you go to England and play there regularly?

Kuruvilla: Last year I played for Southport, Lancashire (near Liverpool). I am going to the same place the coming summer too. We play in different kind of tracks. The team (club) depends on you to win the cup/league. So it makes you perform better. We won the league last year, Liverpool & districts competition. The club I played had a few retired county players, Simon Sutcliffe (he had played for Warwickshire).

Cric8wala: Most Bombay players seem to come thru u17s, u19s. You seemed to come up late, into prominence when you were at Ramrao Adiks, was it ? Did you start cricket late ?

Kuruvilla: I never played in the u-19 or so. I did come late

shariq: In the US strength and conditioning coaches are imperative in all professional sports. Do you utilize the services of a strength and conditioning coach?

Kuruvilla: In India there is nothing of that sort like personal coaches. Maybe in the US yes...

Shash: Willing to make any predictions on the ongoing Test match in South Africa? :)

Kuruvilla: South Africa are the favourites now, everything depends on Sachin. If he gets going then others will also contribute.

azzie: Is this your first exposure to cricket on the Internet? And if so, is it an experience you would want to repeat?

Kuruvilla: This is the first time.

Badri: He has not seen much! I will show him around more. Anyway we don't even seem to have a profile on him in our player pages!

Cric8wala: Hey, get Abey to give us some details on his schooling etc, and we'll write up a profile...

Kuruvilla: Born in Kerala but brought up in Bombay. School: OLPS, College: 11th&12th Swami Vivekanand, 1st year BSc swami Vivekanand, then joined Ramrao Adik, but I didn't complete it.

Badri: Cric8wala, Abey wants to know more about you. He is asking me: "who is this guy?" :)

nittas: Do you think Srinath should get more wickets instead of beating the bat regularly? Also, does Prasad pick up a few because of Srinath breathing fire at one end?

Kuruvilla: No comments.

shariq: Did you ever enjoy making the batsmen jump up and take evasive action or hit them so that they would not want to face you anymore?

Kuruvilla: I have bowled some bouncers and it may hit a batsman and he may get hurt. It is part of the game.

osho: Do you think that Indian cricket has enough money for first class players to be full time cricket professional now?

Kuruvilla: No. Not yet enough money for the first class players.

Kapil: How do you feel about people moving to other states for getting a chance in the national squad, eg. Chetan moving to Bengal etc. (Sorry if its a controversial question).

Kuruvilla: That is their problem, not mine!

azzie: Apart from cricket, what else do you like to do? Any favourite hangouts?

Kuruvilla: Watch movies, all types of movies. Rasna pub - favourite hangout place.

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Date-stamped : 28 Feb1999 - 11:26