James Franklin
James Franklin has been a consistent performer for the Leo Lions in the inaugural edition of the MCL.Reuters

New Zealand have produced a number of talented all-rounders over the years and one of them is James Franklin.

The left-arm all-rounder played for the Black Caps for 13 long years, before retiring from the game in 2013, and now he is featuring in the Masters Champions League (MCL) for the Leo Lions.

Leo Lions have made it to the semifinals of the MCL as the second-best-placed team in the points table, and they will face Virgo Super Kings in the second semifinal of the tournament. Franklin believes that there are a number of quality players in his side who can help the Lions reach the big final of the MCL.

Franklin spoke at length with IBTimes India -- about playing for the Leo Lions in the MCL, New Zealand's chances at the ICC World T20 2016, Brendon McCullum's retirement, Martin Guptill being snubbed at the IPL 2016 player auction and last, but not the least, sharing a dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar in the IPL.

Excerpts:

How has your journey with the Leo Lions been so far in the MCL?

It has been good fun. The kind of cricket that the players are still playing in this tournament has left the world stunned. It has been so competitive out there. And playing for the Lions has been a good experience. Dubai is a nice place to come and play cricket.

You think the Lions can make it to the final of the MCL?

I believe we can. We have a lot of quality cricketers in our side. We have played good all-round cricket so far. We just have to play as a team against Virgo Super Kings in the semifinals. Don't know about the result, but whoever plays better cricket will win and seal a spot in the final.

Even if you qualify for the final, you are likely to face the dangerous Gemini Arabians. You think the Lions will be able to overcome Virender Sehwag's team?

Look, they are a superb side. they have been the best team in the MCL so far. But don't forget Sagittarius Strikers are also a good side. They have Adam Gilchrist, Mahela Jayawardene, Daniel Vettori and all of these are world-class players. The strikers will fancy their chances against the Arabians. You never know we might face the Strikers in the final if we win. A team, even if on a dream run, can have a bad game.

Share your thoughts about Brendon McCullum, who is going to retire after the Test series against Australia:

Brendon and I have played together since teenagers. He has been a fantastic cricketer. Recently. Baz along with coach Mike Hesson have galvanised the young players and have converted them into a force to reckon with. New Zealand now play a fearless brand of cricket and clearly Brendon is responsible for this change.

You think New Zealand  have a good chance in the ICC World T20 2016?

Oh absolutely! They have done so well in recent times and they will surely be a team who will be tough to beat. However, they will have tough opponents like India, Australia, Pakistan or may be Bangladesh in their group stage. they will have to play very good cricket. If somehow they can manage to sneak into the knockout rounds, then the Kiwis have a good chance to go all the way. Watch out for Kane Williamson and Mitchell Santner!

Martin Guptill went unsold in the IPL 2016 Player Auction. Why do you think that was the case?

Everyone in the world of cricket was surprised when he went unsold. I think the eight franchises had their strategies in place much before the auction and probably Guptill was not there in their minds. But it is unfortunate for someone like Guptill, who is going through a purple patch with the bat. This should not dishearten him and he should continue to play in the same fashion as he is doing for New Zealand.

Your memories of IPL and playing for Mumbai Indians:

Sharing the dressing room none other than Sachin Tendulkar was one of the best experiences in my life. I can never forget those moments playing in front of a crazy Mumbai crowd and brushing shoulders with Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard, Ricky Ponting, Rohit Sharma was indeed a fabulous experience. IPL is a wonderful platform and I am grateful to the Mumbai Indians, that they allowed me to play for them.

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