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Shirin Sadikot in Mohali

Matthew Gale cherishes bitter-sweet debut

Brisbane Heat pacer talks of his ‘eye-opening’ Indian experience

When Matthew Gale landed in India for CLT20 2013, he was an unknown entity. He watched from the sidelines as his new team, Brisbane Heat, played their first match of the tournament, in front of a screaming Ranchi crowd. He was in awe of India.

A couple of days later, just as he started to soak in the country, he was asked to play his first match – for Brisbane Heat, in CLT20 and in India. The right-arm fast bowler ensured it was a debut worth remembering.

Aided by Mohali’s green track and wetness in the air, David Saker’s (former Tasmania and Victoria pacer and currently England’s bowling coach) nephew swung his way to four wickets in 2.5 overs, giving a measly 10 runs in return. Thanks to his efforts, his team bowled the Titans out for 123.

It was a shame that he ended up on the losing side due to Heat’s second middle-order collapse in a row. But Gale had the right to be happy for himself. After the match, he spoke to clt20.com and explained the enormity of his first experience of playing in the CLT20 and in India.

Excerpts from his interview:

The team lost but you must be elated with your own performance

Yes, we had a good first half and it’s pretty disappointing to lose that way. But to get an opportunity on a stage like this is really pleasing.

What has been your first impression of this tournament?

Just arriving in India at the airport was a bit of an eye-opener. And then in Ranchi, during that first game (against Trinidad & Tobago) the stadium was packed and the noise was deafening. Just being here has been a great experience in itself.

What role has your uncle had to play in your development as a cricketer?

He was probably an outswing bowler as well. Growing up I went to most of his games and got involved with some of the bigger names in the game. I watched him a lot and at that stage, and then he was also my assistant coach at Victoria. So, he has done a lot for me.

The Mohali wicket is the one Indian wicket that comes closest to the ones back in Australia. Are you happy you played your first game here?

Yes, that did help. Typically tracks in India are very dry, slow and low. But this wicket was pretty much like the one at Gabba, my home ground. It was really quick, it swung around and the overcast conditions helped as well.

The next two venues – Ranchi and Ahmedabad – will not be as helpful. Are you developing your bowling to succeed on subcontinent tracks?

Yes, we did a lot of work ahead of this tournament on traditional Indian wickets and that’s what we practiced for. We have been doing a lot of work on change options and adding variety to bowl well on the tracks that are not so pace-friendly.

The middle order has collapsed twice in a row now. Is that a big concern?

Yes, especially after getting those excellent starts and at a very good run-rate. We’re getting behind the ball a bit too much and after that leaving a lot to do in the end. That’s an area we need to work on.

Looking forward to playing against the two IPL teams now – CSK and SRH?

Oh, I think it’s going to be an amazing experience, especially in Ranchi, where the crowd is so loud and gets behind MS Dhoni. It’s going to be a whole new experience altogether and I’m really looking forward to it. The other night, there was a sudden roar from the crowd and we thought there was something going on. We looked at the big screen and saw they were just showing Dhoni on it arriving at the ground. It was incredible.

Is it overwhelming at times?

It is. But you just have to go back to the basics and pretend like you’re playing in the park. You have to ensure that you’re concentrating the whole time and you can’t let the crowd overawe you. You have to pay attention to the captain and always be aware of what’s happening in the field of play. You have to concentrate really hard. 

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