Friday, May 13, 2011

Roar of the Kings

They are the champions.
And, each time they get on the turf, a deafening roar resonates as a city cheers its heroes. In an impromptu conversation with Tuba Raqshan, Scott Styris and Albie Morkel of the Chennai Super Kings speak about the yellow fever which grips the city each time they play.

It’s not every day that one gets a chance to meet their favourite cricket players, those who are the reigning champions having won the last season of the Indian Premier League and subsequently, the Champions League. So, it was a glassy eyed, dumbstruck journalist who made her way to the Puma Store at the newest mall in the city, where a few players of the Chennai Super Kings were being geared up (with shoes, of course) for the next day’s match.

The throng outside the store, some carrying cricket bats to be autographed while others waiting for a wee glimpse of the men in yellow, announced that they had arrived (and how!). For a country obsessed with cricket, the Indian Premier League is a proud tournament,
a chance for each city to wear their colours and cheer the teams. Chennai, being the good sport it always is, comes alive each time the Super Kings played (at home or away), with splashes of vivid yellow flashing prominently across the streets while whistles (remember the famous ‘whistle podu’ slogan?) kept up with the tempo in their shrilly tunes.

Roaring yellow

Snapping out of the daze and getting down to brass tacks, cricket was undoubtedly the topic of discussion, subtly erasing away all the barriers and the ‘anti-media’ sentiment. Supporting the same team helps, obviously. Scott Styris, the newest addition to the Chennai Super Kings (also the friendliest among the lot) flashed his signature smile before admitting his elation at being a part of the team. “It’s been very good. I had been with the Deccan Chargers for a couple of IPLs before this and it was a team full of youngsters, very different from this team which is well established. I would just be fitting into a team which has been doing the right things, obviously winning the IPL and Champions League. I’m lucky to be a part of the team and love every moment of it,” smiles this Kiwi all rounder.

Echoing a similar sentiment, South African Albie Morkel nods in agreement. Being a part of the Chennai Super Kings right from the debut of the IPL, it is evident that he loves being a part of the yellow brigade. “It’s my fourth year with CSK. We’ve played fantastic. We’ve been a successful side, winning the IPL and Champions League also. This year, we have the same squad going. Most of the guys who played in the previous years are also involved now. Not too many new faces in the side and we know what it’s about,” explains Morkel.

Smells like team spirit

A veteran, Styris feels that the Chennai Super Kings is a powerhouse of talent. “It’s a very good team with a lot of outstanding talent at hand. And, I am not even talking about the international players here. The local Indian players are very skilled and they are fun loving guys. I didn’t see much of Ani (Aniruddha) Srikanth before this tournament but apparently,
he played well in the Champions League and matched it up here. It is fantastic. Apart from that, there are a couple of very talented young bowlers like Tyagi, for instance. It would be interesting to see how they develop. I’m enjoying interaction with the young players on the field and off it too,” adds Styris, cheerfully.

Talking about his tryst with the city, Morkel admits, “I still haven’t seen much of the city,
not as much as I wanted to. Basically, we go to the games, travel a lot and then, go back to the hotel and train. So, there’s not a lot of time to go out. But, when we do get time, we go to some of the malls. This is the first time I have been to the New Express Avenue Mall. Last time, I went to the Spencer’s Plaza and what’s the other shopping mall?” he queries, perplexed. “Citi Center?” We prompt helpfully. “Yes!” he replies relieved, adding, “That’s basically what we do when we have the time otherwise, we just watch DVDs in our rooms or swim or hit the gym.”

Beyond the boundaries

Cricket apart, Styris enjoys golf immensely. “I’m a sportsperson and I enjoy all the sports. Mainly I love playing golf and watching it too. I don’t get too much time for many hobbies,” he states the obvious. And, Styris off the field, we wonder? He laughs, “I’m a very chilled out person. I am not someone who is always on the go, all the time. I’m pretty easy going.”

An integral part of the Chennai Super Kings, Morkel is enthralled by the fan support. “For me, it’s a special moment every time I get on the field. It is wonderful to have so many people behind us each time we play. CSK has a fantastic fan base here. Each time I do well,
it is a nice feeling to know that I am contributing towards a successful side. But, the most memorable moment from the team point of view, is obviously winning the IPL and the Champions League,” he adds proudly. Apart from a love for wearing polo shirts and denims, Morkel confesses about his Indian fetish. “I love tikka masala with roti,” beams Morkel,
in conclusion.

(This article was published in the May 2011 Edition of Club Class magazine)

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