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Shastri@60: 'You won't hear one negative word out of his mouth'

By HARISH KOTIAN
May 27, 2022 14:13 IST
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Former India batter and national selector Jatin Paranjpe regards Ravi Shastri as one of his mentors.

Jatin, who made his debut for Mumbai in domestic cricket under Shastri's captaincy, hails Shastri -- who, alas, captained India only in one Test, defeating the mighty West Indies by 255 runs in that memorable match -- as one of the best readers of the game.

Ravi and Jatin enjoyed a fruitful relationship when Paranjpe was a national selector and Shastri India's head coach. Perhaps their most memorable moment in their association was India registering a historic Test series triumph in Australia in 2019.

"He is one of the best readers of a cricket match. He is fantastic. He has great foresight about many things in life, more so about a game of cricket, foresight about talent," Jatin Paranjpe tells Rediff.com's Harish Kotian on the occasion of Ravi Shastri's 60th birthday on May 27, 2022.

 

IMAGE: Ravi Shastri in action during a match against Pakistan in Sharjah in 1987. Photograph: Allsport UK/Allsport/Getty Images

Ravi Shastri and me, both are Boscoites (Don Bosco School, Matunga, north central Mumbai) and Podarites (Podar College, also in Matunga)). So I knew of him right from my school days, because although he is 10 years elder to me, I always heard about how Don Bosco won the Giles Shield (one of Mumbai's two premier school tournaments; the Harris Shield is the other) under his captaincy.

When I was 16/17, I used to go to England with (former Rajastan cricketer) Kailash Gattani's team Star Cricket Club. I remember both his and my mothers were professors. His mother used to teach chemistry and my mother used to teach English literature.

Ravi used to play for Glamorgan at that time, so my mother was very insistent that I take Ravi's number and if I needed anything I should call him. I told her that I hadn't even met him, so how can I just call him? But she said, 'I have taken his number from his mother, so at least give him a courtesy call.'

I remember the first time I called him, his phone went on voicemail. Those days you didn't have mobile phones. But he called me back; I had left my number on the voicemail. He called me and said, 'If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask me.' I thought it was very nice of him to do so, he was such a big player at that time.

When I made my debut for Mumbai, he sort of took me under his wing a lot. He used to talk to me a lot about the history of the game, about his experiences in the West Indies, his experiences of playing in county cricket. He was a very generous sharer of experience.

He is stepped in tradition so his heroes are the Pataudis, Bedis, Gary Sobers of the world.

He is one of the best readers of a cricket match. He is fantastic.

He has great foresight about many things in life, more so about a game of cricket, foresight about talent.

He is a perennially positive guy. You won't hear one negative word out of his mouth.

He is generous with advice and never petty about anything.

I remember an incident in a Ranji Trophy match in Haryana. I was in great nick that season. I got out after scoring a century. I was walking back thinking it could have been a bigger score. And as I was making way back, I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder.

Ravi stopped me and told me, 'This is one of the best innings I have seen by a left-hander in a long, long, time'. And I thought that here is a guy who is going out to bat himself. All batsmen going into bat are a bit nervous, but he stopped and spoke to me.

I think he did that because obviously he enjoyed the innings, but he also wanted to send out a message to the rest of the team, which was a young side, that 'I am here for you guys'.

In that same match, Haryana coach Sarkar Talwar told Paras (Mhambrey) off. Ravi went running across to him and said, 'If you have to talk to my player, you have to talk to me first.'

Leadership came very naturally to him. Mumbai went through a couple of games that season because Ravi out thought the opposition.

He was always confident, he was an outgoing character. He would love to sit at a bar and talk cricket for hours and hours... so very few like him around!

IMAGE: Jatin Paranjpe with Ravi Shastri. Photograph: Jatin Paranjpe/Instagram

When I was the national selector and Ravi the head coach of India, the very fact that Ravi and I go back a long way kind of helped create a bond of trust between the selectors and the team management.

We understood the players they needed and we kind of kept pipelining, and things kept falling into place, whether it was Mohammed Siraj or Shardul Thakur or Washington Sundar.

I remember Sundar playing that innings against Australia (in the Brisbane Test in January 2021). He was never thought of a Test cricketer. I remember I suggested it to Ravi once when we were in Pune before the India versus South Africa Test where Virat (Kohli) scored 254.

I told Ravi that this guy (Sundar) is also a red ball cricketer and he immediately agreed.

As I said, leadership came naturally to him and that leadership is also like a relationship-leadership. You don't need to be a captain to be the leader, but as a coach you need to be the leader not only of your superstars, but also of the young kids who will be superstars later on. So all this comes very naturally to him.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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