In conversation with former cricketers Venkatesh Prasad and Sunil Joshi
The Sports Committee of IIM Indore invited former cricketers Venkatesh Prasad and Sunil Joshi to the campus in order to woo all the cricket enthusiasts here. After they were introduced to the audience, I got a chance to have a formal interview with the mighty players. This is how it turned out to be.
Interviewer to Venkatesh: When you see your career in the past and now managing, coordinating and coaching in the present, which journey do you enjoy the most and why?
Venkatesh: Well obviously I have always enjoyed playing more, because that was my dream. I was more passionate about playing the game than representing the country or achieving laurels. My point was to play cricket and if someday I happened to miss playing because of the weather or any other reason I used to feel bad. I used to play tennis-ball cricket as well. Coaching is altogether a different thing. I don’t have to focus about what I am doing, instead, I’m focusing on different individuals and different mind sets but the goal remains the same. I have coached at various levels, and it is a bigger challenge than playing. I have witnessed the same during the 2007 T-20 world cup or during under-19 world cup coaching the star players like Chiteshwar Pujara. But playing remains the essence of it all.
Interviewer to Sunil Joshi: Despite hailing from such a small town, you were able to reach such great heights. What inspired you?
Sunil Joshi: I was always interested in playing cricket. It sometimes took a toll on my mind and body. I come from a small town from Karnataka. I used to wake up at 3.30 to catch a train and reach the location at 6 in the morning and then walk 6 kms to the practice ground with my kit. I would finish practice at 9 a.m. and go back to bus stop a km away and then attend school. This journey started to be easy, but in due course I left all my friends and all other things. Only one thing struck in my mind and that was I wanted to play cricket. I witnessed a lot of ups and downs. People doubted whether I would be able to do it or not. In less than 15 selections at Karnataka, Mr Kirmani, the captain, was doing fitness training on the ground and he saw me bowling, it was then he saw the spark in me and convinced others to select me. Coming from a small town there were lot of tough situations I had to face, but I had the support of my family and especially my brother who gave up all his personal work, in order to support my cricket interest. All these factors were my inspirational factors to excel in cricket. Never be afraid of hard work and relentlessly strive for excellence.
To Venkatesh:- The life of a cricketer is a challenge each day, you may not garner 100 appreciations for doing good 100 times, but you get 100 criticisms for performing bad once. What used to be your source of motivation in such times?
Venkatesh: Just believe in yourself used to be my thought. I used to accept my mistakes and shortcomings and just work harder and believe in myself. I didn’t want anyone to point fingers at me later. I did not have great pace as my peers. I then used some of the management concepts like SWOT analysis way back in 1990s to find out my strong points and overcome my weaknesses because I believed in myself. So just believe in yourself and figure out where you are going wrong.
Interviewer: How important do you think is the role of “on field aggressiveness?”
Joshi: Probably this question would have been better answered by Venkatesh! But yes I feel that on field aggressiveness is important. It is a mind game. More than aggressiveness it’s important to frame your reaction as well. Your calmness will determine your reaction and consequently better reaction will help you handle the situation and emerge as a winner. Channel your aggression and emerge out as a winner.
Interviewer: Whenever India goes abroad they are not able to perform well, people usually mock saying that is it that we don’t get good food there? But the bigger picture being we getting to understand the culture of foreign players through PACE academies, yet we are not able to perform there, what could be the probable reason for the same?
Venkatesh: It’s nothing to do with food. Initially it was also one of the reason. When I was playing with Azhar & Srinath we had a huge issue with respect to food. But later on the issues were different. It is not that we have performed badly. We won couple of series and matches abroad. But now with interaction through IPL and other such platforms there is more of interaction. The understanding of the culture has also increased, so the situation is improving. But it would always be great if the coach for our team is from our country only. I have always been in favor of Indian coach, because the person is better able to understand and comprehend the player. So PACE academy won’t be a good fit in our country.
Interviewer: These days being an all-rounder is stressed in Cricket, whereas in management we are focusing towards specialization. What is your opinion about the prevailing thought?
Venkatesh: Well it is very individualistic. It depends from person to person. I am a pure bowler; I may not be as good as another batsman. There were a few all-rounders in cricket as well. All round development must be stressed. All aspects of the game are taught to us, and then we specialize. So it’s all about realizing where you are good and where you need to compensate. So this is how we work.
Interviewer: You have played under several captains, which captain is your favorite?
Venkatesh: I played under Azhar, Sachin, Saurav, Rahul Dravid and Ajay Jadeja. Well everybody had their own style of leadership. Azhar never used to talk much; he was a fantastic leader and used to lead by example in fielding. Azhar never critically analyzed moves. He used to be very polite in conveying the point if we were not doing it right. Sachin wanted perfection in all moves. He could play right hand, left hand and all such moves and he expected his team mates also to do the same. It was his style of leadership. Sachin is my role model but the execution he demanded, we were unable to deliver owing to our own constraints. Ganguly was very empathetic and emotional. So each leader had their styles. That is how leadership is, using your style to bring about the best execution. As management leaders use your style to bring about the best change. Be a team player and be aware of the dynamics of the team and utilize it in the best possible way.