In the end, we are in the entertainment business: Gavin Larsen3 min read . Updated: 11 Mar 2015, 01:20 AM IST
Larsen is involved in his fourth World Cup, this time behind the scenes as the cricket operations manager of the New Zealand leg of the Cup
Former New Zealand cricketer Gavin Larsen played in three World Cups. Now he is involved in his fourth tournament, this time behind the scenes as the cricket operations manager of the New Zealand leg of the Cup. He spoke in an interview about the challenges and changes in today’s cricket. Edited excerpts:
It is a big role no doubt, broad and deep, looking after the pure cricketing operations across the seven World Cup venues in New Zealand. It’s all about the training facilities, the grounds themselves, the outfields, the match officials and the players. I also look after the logistics around the team, players’ area, flights, accommodation, and their baggage. It is a big challenge to get all of this working properly.
You obviously look at it from a different lens, behind the scenes in a way, and it took me a few months to comprehend the scale of the tournament we are dealing with here. It is enormous and so much bigger than the ones I was a part of, the 1992 and 1996 tournaments in particular. And times change, the game has gotten bigger while the commercial side of it has grown. As a player, you don’t really comprehend what is happening behind the scenes. You just turn up at airports and you expect the bus to be there. You jump on and go to a hotel, training, you play your game and then the caravan rolls on. Working behind the scenes, I have come to appreciate the scale of a tournament like this and the complexities involved in pulling it altogether.
Everything evolves and for the better I believe. And in the end, we are in the entertainment business. Look at Seddon Park (in Hamilton) today; we have a capacity crowd for India versus Ireland. We have a fantastic Indian team in town and a great associate team as well, and we have a good game going. So I see that we entertain the people who come to the grounds and I can say we have done that since ball one of this tournament, especially in New Zealand, where I believe every game has been a closely fought affair. Good quality pitches and outfits are the baseline starting points and you have to give that to the players to be able to perform as per their skills. At the same time, we have to keep the momentum going and the stakes will get higher as we keep going towards the finals.
I would probably fake a hamstring injury or something and say I can’t bowl (laughs). The pitches are definitely better nowadays; they are quicker and more bouncy, and the traditional back-of-length bowler who hit the top of off-stump regularly has pretty much disappeared now in terms of one-day cricket. Every team needs to attack all the way through the 50 overs because the game is so much more loaded in favour of the batsmen. So the best way to contain is to attack and doing so you take wickets, and we can see how well that was illustrated today. Ireland got a really good start but India kept coming at them. Wickets started falling and they pulled them back.
Well, I have to pick the two host nations, New Zealand and Australia. They are both very strong playing in home conditions, and both have been playing some very good cricket. India of course are the third team, they have got some really good momentum going, particularly with big improvements in their bowling. The fourth team, I would want to go with South Africa, but there’s a chance that they might play Sri Lanka in Sydney in the quarterfinals. In that case, I will opt for Lanka to progress.