The sixth Indian Premier League will come to an end today with the crowning of a new champion, as Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians go head-on in the grand final in Kolkata at 10:30 hours.
Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders did not make it to the playoff stage of the league this year, as did Chris Gayle’s Royal Challengers Bangalore – the only franchise to have bought a Guyanese player.
The all-rounder Christopher Barnwell was bought for US$50,000 by the franchise at the auction earlier this year, but warmed the benches for the entire tournament.
Caribbean connection! Christopher Barnwell shares a moment with teammate Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo
Guyana Times Sport Journalist Avenash Ramzan sat down with the Demerara Cricket Club and West Indies cricketer, who shared his experience of being part of the largest T20 league in the world.
Avenash Ramzan (AR): “Welcome back home and thank you for granting us this interview. Briefly, tell me about your experience in the Indian Premier League.”
Christopher Barnwell (CB): “It was a wonderful experience, being in India. I didn’t get a chance to play, but I did make the most of the opportunity, being around the senior players, learning a lot from them, picking their brains and learning more about the game that could make me better. It was a wonderful experience all in all.”
AR: “You must be disappointed not to have played a game.”
CB: “Well, that’s the game of cricket, you know. You could only play four overseas players per game, so although I wanted to go out there and showcase my ability, at the same time everyone cannot play, so I had to just go out there and support the team and wish the guys well.”
AR: “You were sharing the dressing room with some modern day giants of the game: Chris Gayle, AB deVilliers, Muttiah Muralitharan, Tillekaratne Dilshan, Daniel Vettori and the list goes on. That must be an experience you’d cherish for the rest of your life.”
CB: “Yes, it was a wonderful experience. Growing up and watching those players on television and now actually being there with them at the same time was a wonderful feeling for me.”
AR: “I’m sure you would have used the opportunity to get some tips from these players. How did that go?”
CB: “Well, basically I asked them how to go about the game. One thing all of us have in common is to play basic cricket. In T20 cricket you have more time than you think; just look at Michael Hussey, he’s a perfect example…just pick the balls to hit and he goes about Test matches, one-days and T20 in the same manner. [As a batsman] I learnt that you must play it as you see it and don’t put yourself under too much pressure…as bowlers you have to be on the ball all the time because T20 is a game where one [bad] over and your whole spell could go wrong, so it’s important you concentrate on every spell.”
AR: “RCB’s batting was clearly the strength of the team, consistently putting up huge totals, but the bowling was a major letdown…did you at any point put your hands up and say “I think I can do the job”, because you’re the type of player who can contribute to both departments.”
CB: “Well you know that’s not my call whether I should be playing or not; that’s up to the coach and captain to come up with the best eleven to go on the field. I don’t think we bowled bad either, it’s just that we didn’t execute our plans, because some of the games the bowlers did a fantastic job and brought us back in the game. But then again they were not as consistent as they should be.”
AR: Earlier this year you had the privilege of watching Chris Gayle blast 122 against Guyana in the Caribbean T20…a few months after you’re in India, Chris Gayle 175 not out. Tell me a bit about that innings.
CB: “(Chuckles) That was a very good innings. When I went to the ground that afternoon and Chris started to bat and after the second over he struck two fours and the rain came, I turned to one of my teammates and said ‘I think Chris is going to give us a hundred today.’ He did give us a hundred, but at that point I didn’t realise it would turn out to be a big hundred. It was fantastic the way he stroked the ball and it was just one of those days as batsman when the ball comes right out of middle of the bat, and that was a special innings to watch.”
AR: “What was the mood like in the camp when Sunrisers Hyderabad were playing and the equation was if they won, it would effectively end RCB’s campaign? Darren Sammy, as it turned, out won the game for Sunrisers with consecutive sixes and that was the end of RCB’s run in the IPL. It must have been a terrible feeling.”
CB: “Yes. Coming down towards the end there we knew the situation, we didn’t have our fate in our hands. We were depending on Sunrisers to lose and it didn’t happen.”
AR: “What went wrong for RCB this year, six tournaments now without a title?
CB: “I think in some of the games we lost key moments and as you can see towards the end there we had to pay for those mistakes.”
AR: “In the midst of the IPL, there was a very damning story about three Rajasthan Royals players –Shantakumaran Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila – being involved in spot-fixing. What was your initial reaction when you heard that story?
CB: “Well, I was quite surprised. Before the IPL started the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit spoke to the players, so I was surprised that some players, knowing what happened previously with the Pakistan players, still got involved in something like that.”
AR: “Did the management of RCB at any point warn the players about the possibility of being approached?
CB: “The RCB management didn’t really say anything, but the Anti-Corruption people had a meeting with us so I think that should have registered to every one of the players, what we should do and what we should not do.”
AR: “Thank you very much Chris and all the best in your future endeavours”
CB: “Your welcome, cheers!”