'I stopped caring about results and really enjoyed the game'
What was the experience of playing T20Is for Australia at two different points - in 2009 and 2013 - of your career like?
The experience is obviously amazing, playing for your country. But the T20 team is not always our full-strength team, with a few guys coming in. It can be a bit disheartening when you're not in the best team. But you always play for your country when the opportunities pop up. So good fun.
Why do you think the Australian T20 team has not done very well despite so many clubs and the BBL there for a few years now?
I think it's because our big guys, like Steve Smith and Davey [David Warner], are always away. They don't actually play a bulk of T20 cricket during our T20 time. They're always playing Test matches and we're playing Big Bash. They come in and they're probably not as sharp as they need to be and it's normally a one- or two-game series. I think it's one thing Australia is pretty disappointed about back home, that we haven't performed very well in the World Cups and these bigger tournaments.
You retweeted a stat that since the start of 2016 you've taken 18 wickets at an economy rate of 6.58. In the second innings, your economy rate was 5.57. What have you done differently recently?
Yeah, I was a bit shocked when that stat came through. They are pretty good, aren't they (laughs)? I think it's [about me] getting a bit older and being really comfortable in life and almost stop caring about results, just really enjoy playing the game and competing and going well. It seems funny that when you stop caring so much, things [turn out well]. It's funny way to say "not care". It's more like not putting so much pressure on yourself. I'm in a pretty comfortable place where [if] things finish tomorrow, I can go home and spend time with my family. Keep riding while it's going. It's good fun, but if things finish, so be it. I'll move on to the next chapter.
What were your expectations from the IPL auction this time round and how were you following it back home?
It's always a bit hard to get IPL stuff in Australia. It doesn't seem to get much free-to-air coverage. I ended up just watching the Twitter feed. I thought I had a pretty good Big Bash and if I was going to get picked up again, this was going to be the year. So I was a little bit disappointed and annoyed after the first round had gone through. I think my wife and I were a bit depressed, eating dinner quietly. And then I refreshed the screen and saw that I got through. Almost woke my son up, which wasn't great, but I was very excited when I got picked.
Which Australian player is going to perform the best this IPL? Will Warner do it again?
I was talking to Kane [Williamson] the day before the first game and I said, "Davey can't do this again, can he?" Just trying to jinx him. We're so early in the tournament and we've already seen Steve Smith play amazing, Glenn Maxwell play amazing, Davey is playing amazing. There's definitely a lot of talent coming from Australia and these boys can turn it on.
Who are the players you have gelled with in your first couple of weeks in the Sunrisers set-up?
I've spent a bit of time with Kane, which is really good. Our thought process is very similar. I actually play for Kane's local team in New Zealand [Northern Districts], which is cool. Shikhar Dhawan's an awesome and really funny guy. Bipul [Sharma] and even Vijay Shankar, who I spent some time with at CSK [Chennai Super Kings], is here and he's a great guy to hang out with.
What do you miss the most about Chennai Super Kings?
I think CSK was a pretty amazing squad, having MS [Dhoni] and [R] Ashwin and [Ravindra] Jadeja and [Suresh] Raina. An amazing squad, which probably won't be seen together again with the way it's all panned out. Just seeing the kind of culture in India compared to back home, like MS can't go out anywhere. But they are all such normal people when you get to know them and talk to them.
You've bowled in different parts of the world in recent times. Which ground did you not like?
I really don't like bowling at the Gabba, which is weird because I'm from Queensland and I've played a fair bit of cricket there. The Gabba has got one very short end and I always bowl from that end. Chris Lynn is at the other end, which isn't great fun. Internationally, I did get to play one game in Mumbai for CSK and didn't fancy it. It's quite a small ground. I haven't had the pleasure of bowling at Bangalore. The boys say it's not a great place to bowl. So those are the top three which are a bit scary.
Your Twitter bio has three words: "future block contestant". Is it about the TV series in Australia?
It is about a TV show called The Block, which is about renovating houses on TV. I've been a carpenter and a builder since I was about 17, so I've done a few renovations over the time. It's a bit of tongue in cheek. You never know, one day I might pop up on the TV, doing a few renovations. We'll see.
Do you fix and renovate things in your house too?
I do. I'm renovating at the moment and I'm almost finished with a phase. A couple of months to do when I get home and this one will be finished, which will be nice. It's good fun.
Did you study carpentry or was it a hobby?
I wasn't very good at cricket till I got to the mid-twenties, so I did my carpentry apprenticeship and worked up until then and have been chipping away ever since.
Dale Steyn once tweeted: "I enjoy watching Ben Laughlin bowl. Plenty skill, skiddy pace, always smiling."
That was a nice tweet from such a legend of the game. I've only met Dale once or twice and he's an amazing person. He has a really good outlook on life. I'll say I've been taken away with the way Dale plays. He's always hard and aggressive but always happy and just loves being in the contest.
He was your first wicket in ODIs. Do you think he remembers that?
Probably not, knowing Dale. I do. It was a little slower ball, which he popped up to Mike Hussey. So I put that one in the bank. Would have been nice to get AB [de Villiers] as my first ODI wicket, but I'll take Dale.
But you did dismiss AB twice in four international matches.
I don't want to talk that one up too much. One was a full toss that he missed somehow and hit to cover. Not amazing wickets, but I'll definitely take them.
Who was a bigger batsman to dismiss for you in 2009 - AB or Younis Khan?
AB was pretty good still but the Younis one was actually a pretty good ball. It kicked away and he nicked it through to the keeper. But probably AB - there was pressure in that game.
Which batsman has been the hardest to bowl to for you?
One of the main reasons I signed for Adelaide [Strikers] was because Brad Hodge was going to Adelaide. I'd hate to see my stats against Hodgy, they'd be horrible. He just whacks me everywhere. At least now it's only in practice games or in the nets, so no one gets to see on TV, which is good. But then Hodgy is an exceptional player.
You've taken some stunning diving catches over the years. Which is your favourite?
I took one in an ODI - the one in which I got AB out - caught Albie Morkel with a jump sort of a thing at the boundary. It was by far my best catch. I took a good one this year for Adelaide in front of a full stadium but the one in South Africa sticks in my mind.
Do you scream at yourself when you put one down?
Yeah, I get pretty shattered when that happens. I am a firm believer that if you can touch it, you can catch it.
How would you advise Ben Laughlin of 2009 to become a better player overall?
When I went on the Australian tour, I felt like I had made it and that I was done. I probably switched off mentally a little bit when I got there instead of realising that I'm here now and I've got to go again and train harder and get better and better. It was quite interesting that I was playing grade cricket nine months before that and I had a pretty good one-day tournament for Queensland and got picked for Australia. So it all happened quite fast and I didn't have massive experience in training and preparing and all those things. In hindsight, I would have knuckled down a bit more and worked a lot harder. But hindsight is a great thing.
What was it like to play an international match in 2013 after 2009?
It was probably a personal goal. I got picked early in 2009 and sort of got discarded. It was always a goal to prove to everyone that I wasn't just a one-hit wonder and that I could get back in there. So that was really satisfying to get back in there. I didn't perform too well in the last couple of games, which was really annoying so I was looking to get back in. You never know, hopefully I can get another couple of T20 games for Australia. That would be lovely. Just show the world that I can be better.
If you could change one rule in T20s in favour of the bowlers, what would it be?
One rule that annoys me is that you can bowl one above the shoulder and if you bowl another one above the shoulder, it's a free hit. It's a no-ball and it's a free hit. I think it's pretty harsh on missing your length by an inch maybe. So maybe fair enough to call it a wide but having a free hit for a second bouncer is pretty harsh. Not a huge tinker of the rule, but I think that would be better.
Of all the colourful jerseys you've worn, which is the closest to you?
I actually really enjoyed my time in New Zealand, playing for Northern Districts. That's probably my longest-standing contract; I've been there four seasons in a row now. It's the place I most correlate with home. I've kept a jersey from every team I've played with. It's all in the closet. One day I'll get them all up in the bar and stuff. I spent a lot of time in New Zealand. I really enjoyed it there. There's not a lot of money in cricket in New Zealand but the boys play because they love it. The passion is there and I found it a very nice environment to come in and compete in.
Do you remember all the T20 teams you have represented?
I can probably rattle them off. I started playing for Queensland, then I played for Australia, I played for Hobart Hurricanes, Adelaide Strikers, I played for Nagenahira Nagas in Sri Lanka. I played one game for Canterbury in New Zealand, then Northern Districts. And then CSK, Antigua Hawksbills. I don't know if we can count this but I'm with Sunrisers now. Then in the MCL, I played for the Capricorn Commandos. Am I missing any?
Nope, all done. So who was the messiest in the Strikers dressing room?
Who was always late for training or the team bus?
Not late but probably cutting it very fine - Polly's (Kieron Pollard) on the minute. So if you've to be there at 5.30 then he's there at 5.29. So he's never early.
And who was the quietest?
Some of the young kids are quite quiet, but from the experienced players, Polly's pretty quiet. And Dizzy's (Jason Gillespie) quiet too - the coach. So there's a few different characters there.
You've played with George Bailey at Hurricanes. Is there any moment when he's not smiling?
No, George has a really good outlook on life and cricket. Once or twice maybe when Tasmania have had some bad games, he got a little bit grumpy. But the smile's always back in ten minutes. He's a lovely person and it's great to see him still do very well in first-class cricket.
Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo