In a chat with TOI, the 22-year-old revisited the 2018 India-England series which saw him arrive on the international stage, the IPL, his growth as a player and more.
How do you foresee the upcoming India-England series?
I think it’s going to be a great series with two really strong teams. Anytime England tours India it’s a really tough one. But I’m really confident it’s going to be a great series and to be back in India will be great.
You had a memorable maiden Test series against India in 2018. How much of a confidence will you derive from that performance?
Personally, I do have some great memories from that series. It was my first real taste of international cricket. It does seem quite a long time ago now but I’ve definitely got that in my mind to give me confidence. But I’m always looking ahead. If given the opportunity to play Test cricket in India it will be amazing, and hopefully I can contribute to the team.
Do you feel coming to India after playing a series in Sri Lanka is ideal since the conditions are more or less similar?
I think it’s definitely better than being stuck in the cold back in England. But I think to be playing 2 Test match series in Sri Lanka before a series in India will be great for us to get used to the very warm conditions, and sometimes the wickets can be similar. To be playing competitive cricket before the series is great, as I personally learn a lot whilst playing in matches.
You have been called a complete cricketer by MS Dhoni who leads you in CSK and Virat Kohli too has praised your skills. How have you seen yourself grow in the last couple of years in international cricket?
I think over the last few years I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to share the dressing room with some amazing players that have played international cricket for so long, being able to ask questions, watch how the top players train has really helped me and playing a few games at the top level has taught me that you have to learn and adapt really quickly, the more games you play in high pressure situations makes you learn really quickly. MS’s comments were very kind and it was incredible to have those moments with him during the IPL and to learn from someone who has done it all.
As an all-rounder yourself, how do you look at the presence of Ben Stokes in the side and what is it that you have learned from him?
Stokes has been great for me. He is someone I watch and admire. He puts in match winning performances with both bat and ball on such a consistent basis. Being able to play with him and learn from him is great for me.
Do you reckon staying in bio-bubble for weeks together and playing cricket is sustainable in the longer run?
It’s hugely challenging, there’s no two ways about it. But, as a player, I’m doing my best to adapt and leave those decisions to the management who we also know are doing their best to adapt and provide safe conditions for all the players both physically and mentally, as well as keeping the game alive during these times.
With players pulling out due to covid-19 fears, does it affect the psyche of the other players who are part of a series?
I think everyone reacts differently in these sorts of circumstances. It’s a very strange world we are in right now. Some people cope better than others and no-one’s situation is the same. You don’t know what people’s personal circumstances are and that’s a concept which is often overlooked.