Grant Elliott was a key performer for New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup contributing with fifties in the Semi Final and Final. He played an instrumental role in the side reaching their first ever World Cup Final with an unbeaten knock of 84 off 73 to lead the side to an unlikely victory after being set 298 in a rain effected chase against South Africa. In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Elliott spoke about New Zealand's adoption of an attacking brand of cricket, what he thinks is the reason behind New Zealand's recent success and the attraction of playing in the Pakistan Super League.
By Amir Husain (22nd September, 2015)
PakPassion.net : It must be an exciting time to be a New Zealand cricketer at the moment?
Grant Elliott : Yes, absolutely, we have gone through a really good past year. Even more exciting is the fact that the likes of Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills have retired from cricket which has given an opportunity to the younger guys to come through and for the team to develop after the success of the 2015 World Cup.
PakPassion.net : New Zealand Cricket team’s attacking approach and philosophy has won the admiration of all followers of cricket. How do you feel about this approach?
Grant Elliott : The whole approach is led by Brendon McCullum where through his style of play he sets the tone for the rest of the team to follow. On top of that the selectors are choosing people based not only upon talent but their character as well. So, we have a good mix of guys who are in it for the team and that makes it a fantastic environment to be part of.
PakPassion.net : There seems to be a generation of excellent cricketers coming through at the moment. What is the reason behind this and is there a lesson for other nations to learn as well?
Grant Elliott : Obviously our pool of players is a lot smaller than other countries. The answer to this question, I suppose, is that we are putting some quality work with a smaller group of players and the way we are bringing them into international cricket is working really well. If you look at the likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee who are now rated as two of the best bowlers in the world, and that is not just only in Test cricket. You then have someone like Corey Anderson and it would appear that New Zealand are definitely doing something right. I suppose, I can’t really isolate one reason for it but we have a hard working group of players who want to be part of the team for all the right reasons. The reasons being simply to do well for your country and your teammates and that is reason enough for anyone to want to work harder, with the results for all to see.
PakPassion.net : To many, until and unless New Zealand win a major international tournament, they will never be classed as a great team. Would that be a fair assessment in your view?
Grant Elliott : Yes, I think so. It is true that the truly great teams do well for a number of years. If you look at the Australian team, they were on top for a good decade. As for New Zealand, this is the start of something special and I am just fortunate to be part of it and hopefully this will culminate in something big such as winning the World T20 which is coming up. This is something we will need to focus on. We have been to quarter-finals and semi-finals before and then the final in the 2015 World Cup, which is great, but good teams go and win these tournaments. This is something which we also wish to achieve.
PakPassion.net : Is the 2015 World Cup final defeat now out of the system and totally forgotten?
Grant Elliott : Well, it does seem like a long time ago. We have played a lot of cricket since that time including series against Zimbabwe and England. But, yes do think about and talk over what happened that day. It was a truly great time to be involved with the team and there are definitely a lot of memories associated with that game. Yes, I did score eighty three in that game but whether you score twenty or eighty what matters is whether you are on the winning side or not.
It was a little disappointing especially when we were 150 for 3 at one stage, we had the opportunity to score a decent total which would have put Australia under pressure but it didn’t happen. The positive side of this is that we had a lot of young guys in that team and they will learn from their mistakes and carry over those lessons to the next World Cup in four years’ time.
PakPassion.net : At thirty-six years of age, how do you look at your future in cricket?
Grant Elliott : As long as I am enjoying the game, I will carry on playing. That’s absolutely key for me. In terms of the physical aspect, my body is in good condition. Being surrounded by younger guys, I also feel very young so yes, I could play for another four years if I wanted to. The enjoyment has to be there but obviously time away from family isn’t a very good thing. These are the types of things you assess and make you take the right decision. Hopefully, when that time does come, I will be taking the decision on my own terms to decide when I pull out of the game.
PakPassion.net : You have put your name forward to participate in the Pakistan Super League, have you had approval from New Zealand Cricket?
Grant Elliott : Yes, I have put forward my name for this tournament. In terms of timing, that is the period in which there is four day cricket being played in New Zealand and it will be a good time for me to get away and play some Twenty20 cricket with the lead up to the World T20 which is a top competition, held in high regard by players and is very exciting as well.
PakPassion.net : What do you feel is the main attraction of playing in a tournament like the PSL?
Grant Elliott : I suppose the experience of playing in different countries, playing against the world’s best. Playing T20 in England recently was a new challenge where one has to adapt to different conditions. As a player it helps in building skills and tests your character as a player. You can then go back to international cricket as a more skillful player. You play against other confident players which provides you another opportunity to hone your skills and come out as a better player.
PakPassion.net : Given the number of Twenty20 Leagues around the world, do you think the PSL has the potential to become as successful as the Big Bash or even the IPL?
Grant Elliott : Given the time of the year, it definitely can become a major tournament in its own right. The players who become involved will dictate that as will how well it is organized. All the signs are there that this will be a very successful tournament. Also from the sub-continent crowd’s point of view and for people who follow the game, this is a popular format. They absolutely love the game and it’s almost like religion to them. I really feel that any tournament in the sub-continent of this nature will always be a big success.
PakPassion.net : Do you feel that participation in the PSL by players like yourself will also be a great opportunity for young Pakistan players to learn from you?
Grant Elliott : Given my age, I believe this will be a great opportunity for me to share my experience around the globe. I am at a stage of my career where I can easily spark interest in a young Pakistan player so that he comes out and plays in New Zealand. This has become quite common now where you see lots of cricketers moving around the world, experiencing different countries and cultures and also learning from each other. So this learning can be good for the young players and not only help Pakistan players but also be of benefit to New Zealand with the learning that I can take back.
PakPassion.net : Looking ahead Grant, a busy schedule coming up for you and New Zealand?
Grant Elliott : Not so much now, but the Test cricketers will go to Australia in about two months for what is a big series for New Zealand. With a changed Australian team in place, this could be a great opportunity for New Zealand to win a couple of Test matches there. We have a few ODI series and Test matches against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia. My focus is primarily on white ball cricket in terms of ODIs and T20Is so yes we have a busy schedule ahead of us.