Wednesday | March 03,2021

Ravi Shastri on his cricketing journey


Tall, dark and handsome. Ravi Shastri was every bit the Mills & Boon hero for whom every ’80s girl’s heart skipped a beat. At 57, he’s still a charmer in his white shirt, grey coat, black pants and colourful socks. The Telegraph sat in on a chat on the sidelines of a felicitation by ICC’s (Indian Chamber of Commerce) Young Leaders Forum at Taj Bengal last month where he spoke about embracing challenges, his journey as the Audi man and what the game has given him.

The transition…

I always knew I could bat… when I saw some of the pitches in India, I thought your bowling is not going to get you anywhere… they were flat… so, you’ve got to start batting and take your chances. I remember I would go and sit next to whoever the captain was… if India were batting late in the day… you would get the opportunity of going in as the nightwatchman. That’s how I went from 10 to 9 to 8 and then sometimes as number 3 or 4 and you started getting runs….

There is no shortcut to success in life. It’s a terrific journey. I thank this game for taking me around the globe multiple times where you make friends with people from different countries. No better joy than to go back to places, especially now, as the coach of the Indian team.

The memorable moments…

(Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket 1985)… I think it was a great Indian side. They had won the World Cup in 1983 and it was the best opportunity to show the world that what happened in 1983 wasn’t a fluke. We were up against all the top teams in the world…. When we reached the finals, it was Pakistan we were playing against. So, the pressure was double…. Then when I got the key (of the Audi 100 that he won for being the Player of the Series)… I called that car the nation’s car… the whole team sitting on that car and I didn’t have a driving license… I took it for a spin around the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground)… those memories will never go.

The 1983 World Cup…

I think that changed the face of Indian cricket. For a guy who was just 20 years of age, I think it was a fascinating journey… as if you were living a dream.

The various hats…

If you had asked me what I would do after I finished the game when I was playing it, I would have had no clue… because of injury, I was forced to quit and the television industry exploded. The first day I did television… took the mic, I knew this was mine. I carried on doing that for 23 years. Then I got the opportunity to come and help the Indian team. And, what a bunch of players they are….

The mindset of a modern-day cricketer is a lot different from my time… the spotlight they come under, the scrutiny they go through are like chalk and cheese… incentives are multifold… that’s the big difference… the bucks in the ’80s and in the game now, are massive. So, there is no motivation needed, but discipline is needed. With a guy like Virat Kohli at the helm, you cannot get a bigger and a better role model…. It is a lot fitter side. They are aware of what the demands of the game are. This is probably the fittest Indian team you’ll see…. There is no ‘I’, or ‘me’… there is ‘we’. Individual brilliance is catered towards team. That makes a massive difference.

The important thing for me as a coach is to make sure that you look after the players in the best possible way by giving them adequate rest in between… so that they are hungry… which means you’ve got to have a pool of about 20-25 players.


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