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FEATURE: Michael Kasprowicz goes from bowling to business

THE heat was well and truly on.

Not only were the Aussies playing in oppressive conditions in a sweltering Bangalore, the pressure cooker environment was only made worse with Indian great Sachin Tendulkar at the crease.

Michael Kasprowicz recalls sweating to the point of losing almost 9kg on that tour of India in 1998, to Australian Regional Media's Josh Spasaro.

AUSTRALIA had lost the first two Tests and Kasprowicz had gone for 208 runs with just two wickets leading into the third Test at Bangalore.

Arguably the best Test batsman of his generation, the Little Master was in his prime.

Tendulkar went on to score 446 runs from just five innings in that series, in one of his many dominant series against Australia in India.

"It was 40 degrees and it was hot. It was the toughest thing ever," Kasprowicz said.

"(Australian fast-bowling legend) Dennis Lillee was there at training - he turned up because he was over there doing his MRF coaching.

"It was like an oasis - here's the greatest fast bowling resource of all time just there."

Surely, Australia's greatest fast bowler at that time could have given the big Queenslander some valuable information on how to dismiss the Indian prodigy, right?

"So I asked him 'you've seen Sachin's technique and the way he plays - can you give me a hint or have you seen any weaknesses or ways we can get him out?'" Kasprowicz said.

"And he looked skyward, rubbed his chin and looked back at me and said 'no mate, just make sure you walk off with pride'.

"Even Dennis Lillee at the time didn't have an easy solution."

But that little conversation, which offered Kasprowicz little hope, certainly built his character.

In the third Test at Bangalore he took 5-28 in the hosts' second innings to help Australia to a breakthrough victory in India.

Kasprowicz actually dismissed the Indian legend twice in that series.

More importantly he learnt how to adjust to the different conditions on the subcontinent, and that's something he now does in the business world.

He was appointed Queensland Cricket's chief executive last month after the resignation of Geoff Cockerill, and brings some impressive credentials to the role.

Kasprowicz holds an MBA, is the founder and managing director of trade and business consultancy firm Venture India, and is on the boards of the Australia India Council and Bulls Masters.

He also formerly served as president of the Australian Cricketers' Association.

The life skills "Kasper" learnt under the Baggy Green cap have enabled him to succeed as a businessman.

"One of the biggest lessons I learnt in cricket was every time you're playing - every match - it's all about adapting your skills to suit the conditions," he said.

"I learnt life lessons from cricket that transfer seamlessly (into the business world).

"Put it this way - while fast, bouncy outswingers might work at the Gabba, they don't work at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore."

Kasprowicz also went on to excel on his next tour of India - where Australia won the four-match series 2-1 and broke a 35-year series drought in the country - with the paceman taking nine wickets at an average of 28.33.

The 44-year-old finished with 505 wickets for the Bulls at an average of 24.43, while also taking 113 wickets in 38 Tests for Australia.

Eighteen years since he seemed helpless in his quest to dismiss the great Tendulkar cheaply, Kasprowicz has now built a high profile for himself - on and off the field - on the subcontinent.

"I like to call it my 18-year love affair with India - seeing the transformation in opportunity and energy and really where Australia can be part of that story," he said.

"Cricket plays a part and it enables Australia to start the conversation."

Now as interim chief executive of Queensland Cricket, Kasprowicz also sees a huge opportunity to grow the game in the sunshine state.

"Last season we saw those young batsmen in the Queensland team (Matt Renshaw, Sam Heazlett, Marnus Labuschagne, Charlie Hemphrey and Jack Wildermuth) who came through scoring hundreds," he said.

"Cricket is in a really exciting place - participation levels from the development ages right through are great.

"The numbers are great as well as the number of volunteers involved in the game.

"That's what we need to keep doing - keep supporting the volunteers because the game of cricket wouldn't happen, certainly not in regional areas, without their support."

Topics:  cricket sport


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