Those who saw Pravin Kalyan Amre's brilliant 103 on Test debut against the likes of Allan Donald, Brett Schultz, Brian McMillan and Meyrick Pringle at Kingsmead in Durban in November 1992 still vouch for his guts and gumption, and ability to play fiery pace bowlers with aplomb.
He was a supremely gifted batsman in his own right. He began well and impressed for a while, but gradually failed to live up to the early promise.
Of course, there were certain factors for it. He did not have a fixed position in the batting order and usually came lower down, which did not leave him too many overs to play big innings. As if that was not enough, he had often to sacrifice his wicket, particularly in One-Day Internationals, in order to score quick runs in the few overs that were left when he came in to bat. After being persistently overlooked by the selectors, he eventually called it a day.
In the following interview with Haresh Pandya, whom he once famously told that he did not have a godfather and that was the reason why he was taken for granted by the selectors, the former Mumbai batsman-turned-coach expresses his views on India's triumph in the Twenty20 World Cup and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's captaincy, among other things.
What impact will the triumph in the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa have on Indian cricket?
The impact of any World Cup win could be mind-boggling. I can say from my own experience that I decided to become a cricketer only after I saw Kapil Dev with the World Cup trophy that India won in 1983. I was only 14 then and I made up my mind to play for my country one day. The 1983 World Cup victory had a huge impact on the budding cricketers of the country. By the same token, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team's success in the Twenty20 World Championship will herald a new era in Indian cricket. It will definitely help Indian cricket in many ways. There is no dearth of promising players in the country and I am sure many talented, tough and competitive cricketers will emerge in the near future thanks to the impact of the Twenty20 World Championship success.
What if India had not won the Twenty20 World Championship? After all, it was such a close thing in the end, wasn't it?
So what? The important thing is that we won. And victory in the World Cup, by whatever margin, means a lot. I think we deserved to win. We produced good cricket, we played competitive cricket and that is why the result was in our favour. Considering our team's poor performance in the World Cup in the West Indies earlier this year, I think the win in the Twenty20 World Championship must taste sweeter. This is the best thing that could have happened to Indian cricket in the present scenario, just like our win in the World Cup in 1983 keeping in mind the circumstances then, all things considered.
Maybe it is a bit too early to say, but do you feel some of the youngsters who performed brilliantly in South Africa should form the nucleus of Team India for the quadrennial World Cup on the subcontinent in 2011?
Yes, of course. They are very young and it will be good investment to encourage them in every possible way. Age is definitely with them and they have got tremendous potential. We have to groom them properly. We have to take proper care of these exciting talents. The ongoing one-day series against Australia is a very tough one. We should not be in a hurry to judge them on the basis of how they perform against the world champion Australians. We have to give them enough time to settle down and blossom. We must show faith in their abilities. We have to keep reminding ourselves that these youngsters are winners.
Who are the ones who have impressed you the most?
We have many talented players who are actual performers, too. Piyush Chawla was very impressive with the ball in England. Dinesh Karthik played very well as a batsman. Robin Uthappa played well in England and South Africa. Rohit Sharma batted so well when it really mattered in South Africa. It is a very good sign that there will be very tough competition among these and many other talented players. It is an embarrassment-of-riches scenario of sorts.
How do you rate Dhoni as a captain?
He was outstanding in South Africa. He led from the front and always seemed to motivate his players. For one so young, he has shown a lot of maturity. I think that besides the collective effort of our players, Dhoni's intelligent captaincy went a long way towards India winning the Twenty20 World Cup. He played a major role as a captain right through the competition. He has it in him to be a great captain.
He has been elevated to the captaincy of India's one-day squad now. Considering the fact that Dhoni is a regular member of Team India, don't you think he should be appointed to lead the country in Test cricket as well?
I think we have to go step by step. Dhoni was perfectly suited to the Twenty20 variety. With the success has come a reward in the form of captaincy of India's one-day side. And he fully deserves it. But I think we should give him some time before giving him the Test captaincy also. As I said earlier, we should groom these youngsters with care. He should be gradually appointed Test captain as well. So much responsibility all of a sudden should not prove to be a burden on him.
What are your comments on Rahul Dravid's decision to step down as captain of Team India?
Well, it was his personal decision and we should not read too much into it. As he said, he was not enjoying the captaincy. And this is very important. Ultimately you should enjoy your cricket, whether you are playing your first Test or hundredth.
Don't you think it is high time the BCCI appoints a full-time coach for Team India?
The BCCI is in the process of appointing one. They have already advertised for the same. And many people have sent in their applications. So I think it will not be too long before Team India has a full-time coach once again.
Are you one of the applicants?
No, I have not applied. Right now I have been coaching the Ranji Trophy team of Mumbai. I had not applied even for the Mumbai side. But the Mumbai Cricket Association authorities wanted me. So I accepted the offer and I am happy coaching the Mumbai team.
You are still quite young and fit as a fiddle. Given your experience as an international player, aren't you keen on becoming the coach of Team India? If the BCCI offers you to coach Team India, will you accept it?
Of course, I will. Who will say no? It is always a great feeling to represent your country, whether as a player or as a coach. Nobody can deny this. But I personally believe that just like you have to earn the Indian cap as a player, you have to earn your country's cap as a coach, too, on the basis of your talent and performance.
Who are you in favour of, an Indian coach or a foreigner?
Whoever is best for Team India is very important regardless of his nationality.