Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Dan Christian expressed his excitement in getting one more shot in the IPL and claimed that his current self is the best ever version of himself that will be taking to the field in the competition. Since his last IPL appearance, Christian has become a global T20 star.
Despite tearing leagues such as the Vitality Blast, Big Bash League and the Pakistan Super League apart, Australia’s Dan Christian went unsold in both IPL 2019 and 2020 but the all-rounder’s moment finally arrived last month as he was purchased for the 2021 edition by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
Now a veteran who knows his game and his role in and out, Christian has been one of the hottest commodities in Global T20 cricket across the past couple of years and, earlier this year, was instrumental in the Sydney Sixers defending their BBL title. It’s been three years since Christian last set foot in the IPL, but the 37-year-old believes that IPL 2021 will be overseeing the best ever version of himself as a cricketer.
"I've no doubt that I'm a better player than when I first played in the IPL - or when I've ever played in it,” Christian told ESPN Cricinfo.
“I just feel like I'm a really good place with my game. I'm confident in what I'm trying to do when I'm out there, and from a batting perspective I'm really happy with how things are going. I just feel confident and comfortable in the role I'm playing in every side. All I'm really thinking about these days is just trying to win, so whatever a team needs at a certain time, I'm going out trying to do that."
Christian is a designated all-rounder, but, more often than not, it has been his incredible ability to alter matches with the bat as a ‘finisher’ that has made him a priceless commodity. In BBL 10 the right-hander maintained an astonishing SR of 193.5 in the final five overs, while this figure is a daunting 176.0 in all T20 matches he’s played across the past 8 years. The 37-year-old revealed that he has specifically trained for the finisher’s role, and added that this clarity helped him thrive in the fag end of the innings.
"It's been about five years now of just playing this specific role: it doesn't really matter where I am in the order, but I've been coming in around about the 10th-12th over mark - sometimes a little bit later, depending on which team I'm in - and playing that finishing role with the bat. I've been able to specifically train for that. With that grounding, you work out how to do it and what you need to do at what time.”
Christian is now known as a T20 mercenary, but the all-rounder had Test ambitions up until 2018, when his state side, Victoria, refused to offer him a contract. Since then the 37-year-old has partaken in a whole range of T20 leagues across the world and Christian believes that Victoria’s decision to axe him turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it enabled him to fully focus on the game’s shortest format.
"It turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise, really. I got the opportunity to play a few more tournaments and it's worked out pretty well in the end. I think that the grounding that I got from playing four-day cricket is the majority of the reason that I'm still having some success, but being able to focus my training on T20 skills has helped me quite a lot.”
Despite setting the T20 world ablaze with startling showings with both bat and ball, Christian has not featured for Australia in the shortest format in nearly four years, with his last appearance coming against India in late 2017. However, the 37-year-old has not given up hopes yet. Christian insisted that he can still realistically get into the Aussie side if he keeps knocking on the door, and claimed that it would be a dream-come-true moment for him to be a part of a T20 World Cup-winning squad.
"I haven't had much opportunity with the bat for Australia at all. When I've played in the past, it's generally been as a bowling allrounder. I'd love another opportunity - obviously Australia have never won a T20 World Cup, and being part of a World Cup-winning squad is one thing I'd love to do.
"I've kept in touch [with the selectors]. I played a lot with George Bailey, so we speak a bit, and I've talked to Justin Langer a little bit as well - he might send me a 'congratulations' text if I've done something well.
"I think it is realistic - I'm not completely on the outer, put it that way. If I'm putting performances on the board, staying fit, and the teams I'm playing in are winning, then I'd like to think that I'm certainly a chance."