His name is Kumaran Thirunavukkarasu. He was born in India, and is currently the assistant coach for the USA National Cricket Team. It may take a while to recite such an extended name, so his friends, family, and the cricket fraternity affectionately call him "Kenny".
This 37 year-old unassuming young man, who currently resides with his wife in Austin, Texas, comes to USA cricket with quite a resume'. Kenny was called up to represent his country, India, after taking a 10-wicket haul, as a medium pacer, in the Irani trophy match against Karnataka in Bangalore in 1999. He made his ODI debut against New Zealand at Guwahati that same year, and went on to play in eight ODI's, with the final one against Pakistan at Dhaka in 2000. He is a product of the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai, and had none other than the famous Dennis Lillee as a personal trainer. He also did some training at the Australian Cricket Academy. Recognizing that his playing days might be over, Kenny turned his attention to coaching, and has worked closely with his mentor, Robin Singh, as an understudy in India. Both gentlemen made their way across the Atlantic, and are currently employed by the United States of America Cricket Association. Kenny sat down with me to discuss his affection for the game and to lay out his goals for US cricket.
OH: Good afternoon Kenny and thank you for taking the time to discuss USA cricket with me.
Kenny: Thank you for having me.
OH: When did you arrive in the USA?
Kenny: I came over in 2010, and then I went back. My wife accepted a job here, and I returned in 2011.
OH: I understand you have played at the highest level in India. Tell me about that.
Kenny: I played some ODI's for India. I also represented the Chennai Superstars, ICL India X1 with Michael Bevan and Tamil Nadu.
OH: How long have you been coaching with USACA?
Kenny: My first assignment was with the National team in Malaysia last year. When I got the opportunity, I said yes, and from then I have been coaching the US team. OH: Where did you hone your coaching skills before joining USACA?
Kenny: I did some coaching under Robin Singh in India, and had some other coaching stints before coming over here.
OH: I understand that Head Coach Robin Singh has returned to India. Is he returning for the Bermuda tour, or will you be leading the coaching team on that assignment? Kenny: I think the Robin is back busy with the IPL, so I think I'll be coaching the team in Bermuda.
OH: Apart from the three practice games currently being played, what other match-ready preparations are you planning for the team prior to the start of the World Cricket League Division 3 tournament in Bermuda next month?
Kenny: At the end of this tour we will be giving the guys some instructions on what they need to do, as they will be back home playing for their respective teams, so they should be well prepared for Bermuda.
OH: I noticed that the selectors used a much younger team during the T 20 tournament and a more matured team in the 50-over practice match. Is this a format that you are anticipating going forward?
Kenny: It was more about player availability, and we figured that the Bermuda tournament is more critical so we had some players come in later so that they could get the time off to travel to Bermuda.
OH: I know you had an opportunity to take a look at some of the younger players this past week, who are some of the players, if any, that caught you eye in the T20 tournament that have the potential of cementing their places in the senior team?
Kenny: Steven Taylor. You have seen his performances, and he is playing brilliantly and has matured with the batting, getting two centuries, and just missing a third. If we put these young players in the right channels and give them a proper schedule it basically comes down to their desire and eagerness to practice as often as possible to secure their place in the team.
OH: Once the practice games are over, it's on to Bermuda for the Division Three competition. What are your expectations for the team as they take on such formidable opponents as Oman and Uganda?
Kenny: Right now, the way we are performing and the way the guys are reacting to whatever programs we are putting out, I think we are looking at the number one spot. We know we will have some tough competition against such teams as Oman and Uganda, but we are looking are the areas we are lacking, and we have a game plan in place. I believe after the recent performance, and the way the team is playing, that we have a very good chance of finishing in the number one spot in Bermuda. OH: The USA now has a new CEO, who is charged with the responsibility, among other things, of overseeing US cricket. How has your role changed, if any, since the new CEO has been hired?
Kenny: I think the CEO is concentrating more on trying to get more funds; I had a chance to speak with him recently. He wants us to have the funds which will allow us to practice more, so that we can be better prepared for the upcoming ICC tournaments.
OH: Well Kenny, I wish to thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to speak with me this evening, and I wish you and the entire management team success as you move forward with US cricket
Kenny: Thank you so much.