Coach Niraj Odedra confident as he joins up with T20 squad
Bermuda head cricket coach Niraj Odedra will get his first chance to assess the new-look T20 squad in person when he arrives in Argentina on Wednesday evening.
Odedra, who guided Indian club Saurashtra to glory in the prestigious Ranji Trophy just last week, has travelled halfway across the world to personally take charge of the ICC T20 World Cup Americas Sub-Regional Qualifiers after taking a flight to Delhi and another to Dubai before travelling on to Brazil and then Argentina, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That’s why i took the job. I want to be in Argentina.” Odedra said.
“Yes, it will be tiring and it will be hectic, but when I see them play and when we win those matches, that will help me freshen up and get all the tiredness out of my body.”
This could well be the right time to take charge with the Bermuda Cricket Board attempting a more professional approach on and off the field, with Delray Rawlins a crucial appointment as captain.
“I had a long conversation with him because I wanted him to lead the side,” Odedra said.
“I had a word with him and he passed on a lot of things to me about the way he thinks Bermuda should go forward and when I saw that, I was pretty confident that we are on the same wavelength.
“He’s playing modern cricket and, although I haven’t done any Indian Premier League, I’m working with people involved in IPL, so I see his ideas matching up with my thinking. There should be absolutely no problems there.
When it comes to T20 cricket, most onlookers expect the focus to be on big hitting, huge sixes and plenty of boundaries but Odedra is keen to use numbers to dispel those notions.
“The stats may surprise you,” Odedra said. “When Gujarat Titans won IPL, they were the team who hit the lowest number of fours and sixes of any team and yet they still won. They were also the team who scored the lowest amount of runs in the first six overs and they ended up winning.
“In T20 cricket, the most important thing is not to lose too many wickets in the first six overs, so even if you get 40 to 45 runs rather than 60 to 70, that’s fine if you have wickets in hand and can accelerate through the innings.
"The other thing is partnerships. You have to have two good partnerships to see you through. If you are looking to score big runs when it comes to T20 cricket, it’s about partnerships and keeping your wicket.
“T20 is definitely not as you think. It’s not just a game where you go wham, bam, hit and score runs. There is a lot going on behind the scenes, you have to plan things right, have a good relationship with the caption to discuss field settings and your bowlers have to make sure they follow the plan.
“I’m also learning from gooad coaches in IPL. Saurashtra were not doing well but this year we made it to the T20 quarter-finals for the first time. We were always good at red-ball cricket but I have brought about this change. In the last two years, we have played T20 really well but it required a lot of planning behind the scenes.
Bermuda’s initial squad has been hit by injuries with Charles Trott withdrawing from the squad with an ankle injury and newcomer Matty Watson battling a shoulder problem, but Odedra is used to overcoming setbacks
“It’s definitely not ideal, but when you are playing international cricket and preparing for important games, injuries can happen at any time,” Odedra said.
“It’s unfortunate but if you look at the injuries, Matty Watson tried to take a diving catch and hurt his shoulder, that can happen at any time in training or in a game anywhere in the world. Injuries are part and parcel of the game and we have to live with it. It’s not a huge problem as I see it.”
Odedra has been influential in the introduction of new coaching and fitness regimes and despite his commitments in India, he has kept a close eye on Bermuda’s training sessions.
“It’s a small world, because of WhatsApp, because of Facetime, so it’s easy to keep an eye on them and see what they have been doing,” he said.
The good thing is the timing because when I am in the field in India, you guys are sleeping and when you are in the field, India is sleeping. If you look at the time difference between Bermuda and India the timing is perfect so I was constantly in touch with the coaching staff.
“We tried to implement a few things and it has worked out fitness-wise and fielding-wise. I can say that we have started something good, but we’ll see. When we start to see the results, that’s when you will see performances have
The head coach will be spending this summer on island and will be a constant presence at matches as the team gear up for the final qualifying round in Bermuda,
“I have signed a two-year-deal but it’s difficult,” Odedra said.
“People in Bermuda and the UK would not know how difficult it is for an Indian to travel. For you guys, you can just show your passport and go wherever you want, but it doesn’t work like that for us.
“Basically, I’ll go to Argentina, finish this qualifying round, come back to India and then apply for a UK visa that will let me enter Bermuda. I will have to wait around ten days in March and will be in Bermuda at the end of March. I’m going to then work in Bermuda until the final qualifying round.”
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