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16 Aug 2020 | 04:00 PM
authorAshish Pant
Everybody wants to beat Trinbago as everybody wants to be a part of us: Munro
The swashbuckling batsman from Trinbago Knight Riders opens up in a freewheeling chat with prior to CPL 2020

A career strike-rate of 160.7 in T20I as an opener, three T20I centuries, more than 6000 runs in T20 and the first overseas player to get the Most Valuable Player award in CPL, Colin Munro is one the best T20 players around.

With the CPL about to start in a few days’ time, caught up with him, who spoke at length about life in a bio secure bubble, Trinbago Knight Rider’s plans for the upcoming tournament and his future.

Q: How have you been, Colin? How has Trinidad been treating you?

It's been interesting, that's for sure. The first week was tough being in lockdown but this is the new way cricket is going to be now. For us it's about adapting and still being active on our group chats and still engaging with other players around. The last couple of days, we have had time to go out and do a little bit of training, whether it is on the tennis court or in the gym or by the pool. It's been pretty good that way.

Q: These are not ideal circumstances to play cricket. Take us through the restrictive environment of the bio-secure bubble.

It's obviously not ideal, but we are all cricketers, we all want to be doing what we enjoy and these are sacrifices that we have to make. There are a lot of rules that we can and can't do during the quarantine. It has not been that bad. I have got a PlayStation that has been keeping me busy. I am doing a little bit of circuit work in my room. I don't think I have been as routinely based in terms of doing my gym stuff than I have been in quarantine because you get so bored that you say, 'Oh well, may as well do something else.' Then you do a few more sit-ups and press-ups. It's helping in that regard.

Q: How was the lock-down period for you? How did you keep the focus on cricket, fitness etc.?

I haven’t focussed on the cricket one bit, to be honest. There is no point in worrying about what cricket is going to be like in the next 10 days or whenever the tournament starts. For me, it was just trying to keep myself active as much as I can. Doing my gym work and here I have got some bands that the trainer for Trinbago has given me. Obviously, I have picked up my bat a couple of times and done a bit of shadow batting and those types of things. Just trying to stay as mentally fresh as I can and be as positive as I can.

Q: What significance does CPL 2020 hold in preparing you for the schedule ahead?

The tournaments are going to get that much longer now with the quarantine and isolation. So I am preparing myself mentally for that. It is not that easy. We cricketers are social butterflies, we want to get out and about and do our things but we can't for the first week or two when we go to tournaments now. We still have cricket to look forward to. The hardest part will be when you get two weeks when you have to quarantine back home. That's the hardest. You are on New Zealand soil or wherever you may be around the world and so close to getting home but you still got two weeks to sit in your room. Yes, everyone has it tough, but everyone is in the same boat.

Q: You have predominantly batted at number 3 and opened for Trinbago in the past too. Which slot do you prefer the most?

I have thought about this and it doesn't really matter. My role changes, whether I bat at the top of the order, No.1 or 2 or No.3. As long as I am doing my role as best I can for the team, that's all that matters. Personally coming into the Caribbean it's about adapting to the different surfaces. In previous CPL's when I have been here, all the wickets are slightly different and you have got to give yourself time. I think that is what I got talking to Brendon (McCullum) and some of the other players around is that in the past. I have given myself a bit to time to get accustomed to the surface and then I can start doing destructive things later on.

Q: How do you think the pitch will behave as all the matches are going to be in just two grounds? Will the batting become difficult?

Yes, definitely. I think in any tournament, wherever you are in the world if you play that many games, in two grounds, it's going to get lower and slower, it's going to take some more turn. The teams have chosen their sides like they knew that was going to happen. In every single team, there are 3-4 genuinely good spinners. It is going to be different in the first half of the tournament, where the seamers might come into play, but then later on in the tournament, it is going to get lower and slower.

Q: Trinbago went as far as the second qualifier in 2019 but there was still a lingering feeling that the side didn't do justice to the strength of the squad. What is the plan for this season?

We obviously want to go and win, but the best doesn't win all the time. Last year we were the hunted. Everybody was hunting us. Even this year, you can still see everyone is hunting us even though we did not win last year. Everybody just wants to beat Trinbago. I think it is because everybody wants to be a part of us. We have been a good franchise throughout the last 5 years since I have been here and even before that. We haven't had much chat because we haven't been together as a group yet. You want to play these tournaments to win them, you don't come here for a good time, to come up with a runner's up medal or even third or fourth.

Q. You know you have the highest strike-rate for an opener in T20Is who has played more than 15 innings at the position. What do you think has clicked for you in the format?

A: I think a bit of luck. You got to have a lot of luck in T20 cricket and in any cricket really. The opportunity to go up the order when Brendon retired was awesome for me. I've always sort of found myself batting five and six and I enjoyed that position because I didn't know any different. Then I thought why not challenge myself and go to the top of the order and just try and be that destructive opener. My strike rate is high and although I've got a decent average in T20 International cricket, I'd really like to try and formulate that into some One Day cricket too and try and find the balance that I haven't done in the past. A little bit of luck, but also just a lot of hard work too.

Q. Is playing T20s your only focus or are you still eager for a place in the 50-over setup for New Zealand

I missed out on a contract for New Zealand this year. It sort of shows me that they chose other players ahead of me in one day cricket and that's acceptable. It's time for me now to also start looking after myself and my family and what the best decision that is moving forward. I am 33, probably got another two years of good cricket in me and then I can reassess my goals after that. So try to play as much T20 cricket as I can over the next little while and see where that puts me on at the end of next year.

Q. Thoughts on becoming a T20 freelancer.

I am taking it one tournament at a time. I was very close to not coming here. Just after the lockdown I got my degree and I was like, well I can go find a job.  I am pretty happy with what I've achieved in cricket.  I just wanted to be with my family especially in these tough times. Then I thought, I've got 30 years of work ahead of me. I probably got 2 to 5 years of cricket. I really enjoy what I do. My wife said you might regret giving it up now. I said, OK, cool let's just take it one tournament at a time and go from there. I think that's all I'm going to do. Take it one tournament at a time, one game at a time, and then see where I am.

Q. Which batsman is your role model in T20 cricket or had an influence on you? 

I use Brendon McCullum, to emulate my power abilities and try to get the best out of him and pick his brains all the time. I am so very fortunate to have him as a coach and as a leader throughout my whole Black Caps career. When people say, oh, don't be too destructive, take your time, build an innings, I don't enjoy playing that way. I'm going to go out there and play Colin Munro style of cricket.

Q. How have you evolved as a cricketer over the years?

I trust my gut, trust my game, trust what I do well, and go out there and try and implement it. I think if I'm trying to please everybody else around me and try and bat like a different person, it doesn't work. So I need to go out there and be true to myself and play that aggressive brand of cricket. If I want to reverse sweep, go ahead, and don't second guess myself. As a batsman, you only get one chance. If you're second-guessing yourself and you get out, then you've got a long time to watch the game.

Q. How is it having Dwayne Bravo back in the setup after he missed last year’s tournament due to injury?

In the last few years, we have had Bravo as captain and then we've had Brendon McCullum as well. They feed off each other really well with different ideas. Bravo is open to other people coming up to him and asking for ideas. Last year, Polly (Kieron Pollard) was by himself a little bit. He is a great leader, but he's one of our best fielders. So, he's always on the outfield, on the boundary, taking those wonderful catches like he did last year. So he's not always on that game all the time. Now having Bravo there will help. I can learn so much off them and the Trinidad boys absolutely love them and admire them for who they are.

Q. Any new things or skills you picked up during lockdown?

No, not really. I think my cooking has gone through the roof. I could not get any worse, to be honest. My wife being a nurse, I was at home with the kids. I take my hat off to all the mums and dads out there that have that role because it's very tough looking after two kids.

Colin MunroDwayne John BravoKieron Adrian PollardBrendon Barrie McCullumTrinbago Knight RidersNew Zealand
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