Abu Dhabi: Legendary South African pacer Allan Donald is the bowling coach of Royals Challengers Bangalore — ironically a team whose batting looks set be their strongest suit.
Stars such as Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and AB De Villiers will be tasked with scoring RCB’s runs in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), which starts in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, and Donald’s job is to make their bowling attack just as strong.
The former Proteas star, who terrorised batsmen with his pace and earned the nickname “White Lightning”, says bowling in Twenty20 cricket is the ultimate challenge.
“It is the most difficult format simply because for 24 balls [four overs] you are under immense pressure,” he said.
“It is not like Test cricket, where you can maybe go and cruise through spells and dry up the runs. Here you need to think every ball and be alert to every occasion. It is really tough for the bowlers and that is why it is very exciting.
“Bowlers are here to serve the batters. However, in the course of time it has got a little better for the bowlers. It is now all about confidence.”
So can bowlers expect anything different from this IPL or is there a particular path they should follow? “I don’t think you can expect anything different. My philosophy is that you learn from bowling every time.
“In this format of the game, you have to do your homework properly. Many bowlers have asked me how to bowl to batsmen like Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers and my answer has always been that I don’t know.
“They are so good with the bat and they are very creative in execution, so from a bowling point we need to be more creative because you have only got a split second to react.
“There are a lot of tactics and a lot of clear thinking that need to go into every delivery. You’ve got to think every ball.”
Looking back at his own career, Donald added: “I have bowled to some of the best players like Brian Lara and I know what it is like when he is on form. It is like you do not know where to bowl. All you can do is just try and do the best you can.”
To a query how it is to be the bowling coach of a team with such a strong batting line-up, Donald said: “I think this year we have a nice balance of attack with Mitchell Starc, Albie Morkel, Ashok Dinda, Varun Aaron just to name a few.
“Starc will lead this attack but it all depends on how we manage the pressure situations. From the first over to the 20th with the ball you are under pressure and it all depends on how you manage those vital periods. That is why we have practised with special skills like our death bowling and middle overs in particular.”