In the Media
Beyond the Bay Oval Lights - Catchup with James Pamment
Welcome back to Beyond the Bay Oval Lights, as we chat to some of the personalities who have been associated with the Bay Oval over the years, in the build-up to the new cricket season.
This time we talk with past Northern Knights and Bay of Plenty head coach and current Mumbai Indians fielding coach James Pamment.
Tell us about your life and travels from the Covid lockdown last year to the start of 2021
I was in Mumbai last February/March (2020) coaching at the DY Patil Tournament, a Corporate T/20 Tournament which is usually held prior to the commencement of the IPL.
Reliance Corporation, who owns the Mumbai Indians, entered a team which on this occasion, included many of our up-and-coming players plus a few established players who were recovering from injury. We made the final of the tournament and post that, I was due to stay in Mumbai in advance of our 2020 IPL pre-season camp. I could sense that the pandemic was starting to develop quickly and was spreading across the world. I requested a flight home and arrived in mid-March. At the time, the officials were convinced they would still be able to hold the IPL as per schedule in April to mid-May window, but it became quickly evident that it wouldn’t be possible.
The tournament was rescheduled from Mid-September to early November 2020 and was held in the UAE. I left New Zealand in early August, Auckland had just gone back into a level 4 lockdown, so I had to seek approval to travel to Auckland to fly out to Dubai.
Mumbai Indians based ourselves in Abu Dhabi. We were hosted at The St Regis Resort on Saadiyat Island. It is great spot, and our franchise owners did an amazing job to turn it into a safe and functional space for all the players, supporting staff, and their families.
Three grounds were utilized in the UAE, Abu Dhabi Stadium, Dubai Stadium and the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Sadly, no crowds were allowed due to the restrictions of the pandemic, but the quality of the cricket and intensity of the competition wasn’t compromised.
Our team settled reasonably quickly into the tournament, progressed towards the Finals series, and beat Delhi Capitals in the Grand Final to go back-to-back winners.
We didn’t have much time to celebrate, Shane Bond, Trent Boult and I, celebrated with a hotel pizza and fries plus a few beers, before we were out of Dubai and heading back to New Zealand within a few hours of picking up the trophy!
Most of the returning New Zealand contingent were transferred to Christchurch to complete their managed isolation, where they were based at the facility that allowed them to commence training in preparation for the new home season.
I was based in Auckland at a standard MIQ facility, after almost three months of day to day, planning, training and match preparations, two weeks in MIQ is not that bad!
I arrived home post MIQ in late November, enjoying six weeks with the family and friends, before heading to India in early January 2021 for scouting of the domestic T/20 competition and pre auction preparations. For Mumbai, it was only a small auction this year as we only had 6 spaces to fill, and we knew what skill-sets we required to complete our squad. However we like to keep on top of all the emerging talent for future seasons, so I was tasked with watching live games in Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Rather than returning to New Zealand post that commitment, and due to the 2 weeks requirement in MIQ, I stayed in India and took a short break away from Mumbai. I visited a place called Lonavala in the Western Ghats. The Western Ghats are a UNESCO world heritage site. They are a chain of mountains that run parallel to India’s west coast. The scenery was stunning and the climate was clean and fresh, a marked change to the inner cities not that far away in Mumbai and Pune.
Share with us the difficulties of preparing for the 2021 IPL in India.
Preparations for the 2021 Tournament which was initially to be staged from April to mid-May, began in late February for us in Mumbai. Initially, the biggest challenge was creating safe bio bubble for all involved and then getting a handle on where the games were going to be played across India.
Mumbai Indians created a living base not far from our training facility and as the players began to arrive, serve out their quarantine period and commence their training, things were positive for us. We had regular testing for Covid 19, and all the staff employed to look after us were quarantined well in advance of our camp.
As the tournament was approaching and the details of the fixtures were confirmed, it was evident that it would be a massive undertaking to travel, accommodate and facilitate the sixty or so games, during such a trying time for everyone across India. The logistics of moving large groups around the country and servicing all their needs and in the face of an unprecedented pandemic, was always going to be a tough ask. The officials and everyone connected with the tournament worked incredibly hard to ensure the participants involved felt safe and secure, but it reached a point where the tournament clearly had to be suspended.
Tell us about the Mumbai Indians campaign until the tournament was postponed
We had completed seven fixtures prior to postponement, winning four and losing three of the five games we played in Chennai. We currently sit in fourth place, and will be working hard to get a good start on resumption in September to maintain our playoff position.
How difficult was it to return home and how did you deal with the MIQ isolation
Returning home was a challenge. We initially had our MIQ vouchers booked for later in the month, but we were very fortunate that slots became available for us to re-book online with our new departure date.
Mumbai Indians facilitated a private plane to return us to New Zealand, without that, we would have had to spend 10-14 days somewhere outside of India, prior to flying back to New Zealand on a commercial flight. We had been tested for C19 daily and with no positive cases within our group, we were free to travel back home within a few days of postponement.
When and where does the IPL resume
The IPL resumes in the UAE in mid-September. The competition is approx. halfway through and I believe the final is set down for mid-October. I’m looking forward to heading back to Abu Dhabi in the next week or so and trading the 10-15 degrees of the New Zealand winter for the 35-45 degrees of the desert summer!!
Who are the key Mumbai Indians players the 2021 IPL part two
We have a core group of fine players who, if they can perform close to their best, are among the best in the comp. Rohit Sharma, Jaspreet Bumrah are currently playing test cricket in England, The Pandya brothers, Hardik and Krunal have just finished a short 'white ball' tour of Sri Lanka with India. Kieron Pollard has been leading the West Indies recently against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan - and Trent Boult’s been surfing at the Mount since he won the World Test Championship!!
We also have some exciting young players who have been pivotal for our recent success. Ishan Kishan, Surya Kumar Yadav and Rahul Chahar, have all recently made their Indian white ball international debuts, which is really exciting and rewarding for them and for the progress of our development programme. This is something our franchise owners take great pride in, helping players go on to represent India.
Tell us a little about your duties as the Mumbai Indians fielding coach
I try to get the players energized and organized. I hit the ball hard and high to them and shout at them a lot!! I try and have fun and make my trainings fun. I listen to what they (the players) want to work on and develop and share my thoughts and experiences with them, in the hope we can all keep learning, improving and enjoying our time together.
What is on your agenda after the IPL
Hopefully celebrate another IPL title, our fourth in five years and three in a row. Hopefully get home at some point, when I can book a spot in MIQ. Enjoy some time at home through the summer and then work out what 2022 looks like, once we understand what is happening with the big Auction and what IPL 2022 looks like.