Johannesburg: Boosted by the retention of Jacques Kallis and Ross Taylor, Bangalore Royal Challengers are making serious efforts to win Champions League T20 with a 10-day rigorous camp at the place where Argentina soccer World Cup squad under Diego Maradona had trained two months back.
South African star all-rounder Kallis and dashing New Zealand batsman Taylor have been retained by RCB after paying USD 200,000 to their home sides Warriors of South Africa and Central Stags of New Zealand and their coach Ray Jennings said the players will have a 10-day camp at the Pretoria University High Performance Centre.
The Argentine soccer side under coach Maradona had a secluded camp at the same center before the June 11 to July 11 World Cup held in South Africa.
“The team is reaching here on September 1 and we are having a camp at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria. That is where the national side trains. Since I am a South African I know what is the best here and the boys are going to train there,” Jennings told reporters on the eve of the launch of Champions League Twenty20.
RCB, who qualified for the USD six million prize-money tournament after finishing third in the IPL, begin their CLT20 campaign against Guyana at Centurion on September 12 and Jennings said his side has been boosted by the retention of Kallis and Taylor.
“Kallis has a commitment to play for RCB instead of Warriors and so we have paid the amount. The same as Taylor as he will not play for Central Stags. They are class players and it’s great they will play for us. Kallis knows the South African conditions and he will be a great asset for us,” he said.
Jennings said the two home sides Warriors and Highveld Lions might have a slight edge as they are playing at home but felt his side can win the tournament as they have two quality South Africans, quality international players and India internationals who have played well in South Africa.
“Dale Steyn is one of the top bowlers in the world and I hope he is going to fire in home conditions. Then we have Ross Taylor who can be a match-winner any day. We have Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid who have played in South Africa.
“Robin Uthappa has done very well in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007. We also have Virat Kohli who has done well for India in the shorter formats of the game. So we have a balanced side and hope we can win the tournament,” said the former wicketkeeper-batsman.
The tournament is being held in South Africa at the start of the season on fresh pitches but Jennings felt if sun shines well in the next 30 days, the pitches will be flat ones with lots of runs on it.
“Of course, with the pitch being fresh there would be bounce and carry and that would help the fast bowlers. But it depends on how much water the pitch has and if the sun comes out well in the next 30 days the pitches will be good for batting with lots of runs on them. 160 could be a par score in this tournament,” he said.
“It will be a high quality tournament and the South African fans will come out to see the big stars of world cricket. South Africa is a sporting country and they will come out in huge numbers,” he added.
Jennings refused to buy the line that the standard of IPL was low and that was the reason for Indian sides not doing well at home in the inaugural edition of CLT20 last year.
“That was completely wrong. In fact, the level of competition in the IPL was higher than the CLT20 but the dynamics of the (IPL) teams made the difference. In an IPL team you have four foreigners. Quality of any IPL side is as good as any team in the world,” he said.
Asked which sides could go all the way through besides RCB, Jennings said, “Australia’s Victoria Bushrangers are a very good team. Australians are familiar with conditions like in South Africa. Warriors are also a team which can go all the way as they have some big players from South Africa and they are playing at home.”
Jennings said South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher would have been an asset for RCB but his side “can’t accommodate all the players”.
“Boucher is a great player but there is restriction to play only four foreigners in an IPL side. So we cannot accommodate all the players,” he said.
The former South African national team coach said the ICC ranking system under which India are the number one Test side was a complex system but will have to live with.
“It was a system difficult to understand but we will have to do with it,” he said.