In a West Indies pace line-up that had Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Oshane Thomas, it was left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell who grabbed all attention at the 2019 World Cup. The Jamaican's salute-and-explode routine on taking a wicket made it an iconic image of the tournament, making him hugely popular with young fans.
Cottrell's 12 wickets was the most by a West Indies bowler in the tournament and his pace added to his value as Kings XI Punjab paid Rs 8.5 crore, one of the highest buys in the last players' auction.
Having to compete with quality pacers for a spot in the Windies line-up, the 31-year-old acknowledges that he must keep updating his skills. With Chris Jordan and Mohammed Shami in KXIP, jockeying for a place in the playing eleven will be intense. In this interview, Cottrell also speaks about his idol, his role in the side and lessons as a member of champions Trinbago Knight Riders in the just-ended Caribbean Premier League that he brings to IPL.
This will be your first IPL. What are your thoughts, personal targets?
I am really excited. I am looking forward to playing among the biggest names in the sport. I look forward to being captained by KL Rahul, and playing with Mohammed Shami, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran and all those guys.
Any learning from CPL you carry into IPL?
I have learnt from this CPL what it is to play in an empty stadium. I know what that feels like. Also, most of the pitches I played in CPL are a bit like in the UAE. It's slow, low bounce. I will have to work on my variations a bit more.
Have you got any tips from KXIP teammates Gayle and Pooran?
I haven't had the opportunity to chat with Chris. He is a cool customer of the game. He is a very decorated player so at some point I will sit with him and chat. Pooran and I are always talking cricket. He is a very passionate and educated cricketer. Look forward to being in the same team with them.
Is it to your advantage that there are not many left-arm pacers in IPL?
I wouldn't say that because cricket is a game of great uncertainties. Once I prepare well, results will take care of themselves. Though it's a right-hand dominant game and it's a bit different for a batsman to face a left-arm bowler, in the end it's all about execution. Once I execute a plan against a batsman, more often than not you will be successful. A batsman normally faces a right-arm bowler 80-85 percent in his career. Anything different can be a bit of a challenge due to the different angle and line. That's what I can bring to the table.
KXIP has a very successful T20 bowler in Chris Jordan. What are your chances of play regularly?
I do not worry about being in the playing XI because I'm a team person. Jordan is a great cricketer. Shami is a great cricketer. I look forward to be a part of the set up. Getting in the eleven is out of my hand, but I know I'm going to give 120 percent all the time.
What attracted you to fast bowling?
Fast bowling chose me, to tell the truth. Growing up in Kingston and playing cricket in the streets, what got my attention towards fast bowling was the aggression. I was always a sportsperson and loved competing and aggression was the best of way to express yourself.
One bowler you idolised…
Courtney Walsh has been my idol from when I started playing. In Jamaica, while he was playing, he was a superstar. Where I am from in Jamaica, the only place you can see a superstar is on TV. We were playing the final of a junior tournament and my name came in the paper one day. It was only because he mentioned that I impressed him. We didn't know each other, and for my idol to comment in a national paper like that is one of the highlights of my career.
Have you talked to him in CPL?
Yes, he was our bowling coach (at St Kitts and Nevis Patriots); I always picked his brain. He is the first fast bowler to take 500 Test wickets.
You mentioned aggression. Did Walsh talk about channelling aggression?
It comes with preparation, experience and understanding your game. I have been in a lot of situations and tried to learn from them. In a club game in Jamaica, I bowled a lot of short balls, even when the batsman hit me for six. I learnt from that situation, learnt to improvise. It's a process.
West Indies fast bowling line-up is pretty strong now?
It's wonderful to see. All of us are really good friends. They are good students of the game. We have come a long way from where we started. I'm really excited to be part of that fast bowling line-up.
Will we see your celebratory salute in IPL?
Most definitely, I didn't start it only for myself or to get some attention. It's for a reason. I will continue to support the reason for all families back home, for all the fans. Plus this is a great time to bring in a little entertainment into the game, into the fans' living room while they watch the game.