Sunday, 22 May, 2022

Howell a world citizen in T20 cricket

Benny Howell isn’t a run-of-the-mill all-rounder. The Englishman started as a batsman for Hampshire before being released and getting a chance at Gloucestershire and developed his bowling to such an extent that it became his strongest suit.

Howell has a lot of bowling weapons in his arsenal - seam, medium pace and spin and because of that describing his bowling is difficult considering he might come up with a knuckleball and the next one can be a wobble seam while he follows it up with a conventional seam up and ending it with a conventional off-spin.

Howell became obsessed with pushing the boundaries of what a bowler might do with different balls after seeing a baseball game whilst on holiday in America and he became fixated by how the baseball pitcher goes about things - curveballs and knuckleballs in their armory.

However, in the ongoing Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League T20, the 33-year old shows another side of the coin and now seems to be enjoying his batting and in the process rescuing Chattogram Challengers with his willow.

Howell scored 112 runs in three innings so far in the tournament with an average of 56 and also scored at a strike rate of 189.83 – the highest by a batsman in the tournament so far who scored at least 20 runs.

“I always thought of myself as a batter and then I turned into a bowler,” said Howell on Thursday.

“I didn’t concentrate with my batting the same as it was in the beginning. Now the batting is coming around again and hopefully my batting and bowling performances have set some high standards. Yeah, I think of myself as a T20 all-rounder,” he said, adding that his love for baseball is not only helping him as a bowler but as a batter as well.

“On baseball, a few years ago I got fascinated with Major League and got fascinated with the pitcher and the batter. The batter’s job was to hit the ball out of the park while the pitcher’s job is to stop him and he had to do it by changing his speed, pace and everything and I came to love that. That’s how it started,” he said.

“When it comes to power-hitting, batting in baseball helps batting in cricket and especially the number I bat my job is to score as many quick runs as I can and that’s the job in baseball as well.

“Basically getting into a really strong hard position and keeping your head still and watching the ball as hard as you can. Sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t but if you stick with the same thing like that and practice well hopefully more often than not it will come off well and you score runs.

“I do a lot of research of other bowlers before going into a game so that I have a rough idea on what they are going to bowl. Then I have a clear plan in my head when I go out and bat. And like I said before that I keep it simple - my head still as much as I can which makes me wait for the ball and by doing that I can start to hit the ball a lot harder and a lot cleaner,” he added.

 In the cricketing fraternity, Howell is known to be a world citizen considering he lives in Bristol, England while his mom and dad live in Melbourne, Australia and his brother lives in France.

His wife’s mom lives in America while his wife’s dad lives in Argentina and according to him, each culture provides him with different tastes. “It’s fantastic because I don’t belong to one place. I experienced all the different cultures and loved all the cultures and especially been involved in all of those and am now enjoying the culture of Bangladesh and other countries I have played in and it is fantastic.

“Trying to get my two kids to their grandparents and extended family is quite difficult. Some of them live in America, some in Australia and my brother lives in France and trying to go there sometimes can be difficult otherwise it’s great to be a world citizen,” Howell concluded.