Owais Shah: We Know What Is Required

After securing a historic one-day series victory in Sri Lanka, just over a month ago, England start the second Test in Colombo knowing that once again they will have to overturn a 1-0 deficit if they are to also emerge triumphant in the Test series. On the eve of the second Test, Owais Shah spoke exclusively to Cricket World. England came back from 1-0 down to beat Sri Lanka in the ODI series, does that result give the squad belief that this feat can be repeated in the Test Series? I think that this will play a big part in the next four or five days. The guys can draw strength from that result, we were obviously outplayed in the first ODI, but we came back and won the series. When a lot of people had written us off especially after the first game, and maybe even before that tour started, we showed what we are capable of doing. The guys adapted to the conditions out here and played really well. What is the mood in the camp like after the disappointment of the first Test In Kandy and with the second Test being just a few days after the match in Kandy? The mood is fairly positive, we came close to saving the first Test match, but obviously it didn’t work out that way, but that’s life. You just have to get on with it and get yourself up for the big game starting tomorrow. The guys have worked really hard in the nets, we realise what is required. Out here, you have to deal with extreme conditions because it is so hot, we have worked hard on our fitness and we are all quite positive that we can win this game and go to Galle needing a win to win the series. If picked to play a part in this series, do you feel that your individual success with the bat in the ODI series in Sri Lanka will be beneficial to you? It depends on if I get the nod or not as to whether I play a part in the team’s success.We will have to wait and see about that. But we are always discussing how to play out here. Even if I don’t play I am always there for advice and stuff, we are always bouncing ideas off each other and we always try and learn off each other. We are professional about our games and we are always looking to improve, so its something I think we will benefit from. Obviously there is competition for places in most international teams, you appear to be vying with Ravi Bopara for the number six slot, do you enjoy these type of challenges? It’s always going to be tough at the top, that’s just the way life is in any sport when you play at the top level. I do enjoy the challenge, the fact that Ravi and I are vying for a spot. He has obviously got the nod at the moment, but I am training hard. Competition is tough, I really enjoy the challenge which is to keep working hard at my game and try and get myself in that team. Muttiah Muralitharan became the leading Test wicket taker of all time in the first Test. What type of challenges does he present to a front line batsman like yourself? He is a genius and he is not easy to play, especially in conditions out here, but we have worked quite hard on our games and are trying to make sure that we do well against Muralitharan. He is tough to face because he spins that ball from such a long way. You have to cope with a turning ball, but again we have constantly been trying to improve our techniques with different ways of practising and just trying to overcome the fact that he is such a good bowler. We are working to find a way to tackle him and hopefully we can come out on top when the battle begins. Kumar Sangakkara has recently become the number one batsman in the world, in Test cricket. On the back of his record breaking achievement, of scoring 150 or more in his last four Test Matches, has there been any talk since the Kandy Test match of a change of approach against him? You are always trying to discuss tactics like how to dismiss him. He has been a really good player for them especially in 2007. There aren’t any big plans but we are just going to try and be disciplined, we have certain ways in which we can get him out and we will try to do that in this game. You have played alongside Chaminda Vaas for Middlesex so you must be relishing the prospect of facing him in a Test Match? He is a very good bowler and a very experienced and canny bowler, you have to be very wary of that. The further up the ladder you go the smarter the bowlers you come up against but that’s just international cricket for you. He is a good bowler and I have played with him so I know what he tries to do, but obviously its one thing knowing but its another playing and scoring. Interview by Aaron Kumar © Cricket World 2007