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Feb 06, 2016

Up Close With Ravi Shastri

Published Date: 14 Apr, 2008 (12:50 AM)

By Suraj Rebello and Chris Vaz for
Pics:  Joachim D'Souza

Muscat April 13, 2008: Ravi Shastri, ace cricketer and commentator par excellence, arrived in Oman on April 12th to be a part of the Olympic Torch relay to be held on April 14th in Muscat.  Though bound by a tight schedule, Ravi Shastri was gracious enough to spend some time with Team Mangalorean at the Hyatt Regency, Muscat.  Shastri was his usual svelte and confident self as he walked across the hotel foyer to meet us.  It was not difficult to believe that at the height of his cricket career he had had a vast female fan following.  He bowled us over with his charm, wit and most especially with his love for everything that was Mangalorean. 

Excerpts from the interview (Interview date – April 13, 2008)

Mangalorean.Com:  Congratulations on the Indian Team's victory against South Africa today in the third test. Any comments on the win?

Ravi Shastri:  I did not expect the win within three days especially since the players were very tired as they had played a lot of cricket recently but this match was a good comeback. Anyways I am obviously happy with the result as it is very good news for Indian cricket.

M.Com:  What are your views on Mahendra Dhoni's captaincy?

Ravi Shastri: We have two very good leaders in cricket - Anil Kumble and Mahendra Dhoni, both of them are extremely good and they have done well to sustain the interest of the team. 

M.Com: It was a young team that won the match today.  Do you think the senior players should now take a backseat?

Ravi Shastri:  Indian cricket is on an upswing at the moment.  There's a lot of cricket still to be played so the team has to be balanced.  I believe, the one day cricket team needs young players and specially for the twenty/twenty matches in particular.  We need the senior players specially in the test matches because they are experienced.  And yes, the standard of fielding has to improve.  Plus you have to rotate the players around. One has to look after the senior players like Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid and try and get the best out of them so that they can play for another couple of years.

M.Com: Since twenty/twenty matches are in vogue now, do you think this trend will replace the 50 overs match in future?

Ravi Shastri: Again a balance is needed.  I definitely feel the twenty/twenty will eventually be more popular than a 50 overs match.  In future we may not have the same number of one day cricket to be played because of the 20/20 coming in to play so they will have to share the slots.

M.Com:  You started your own cricket career at a very young age and announced your retirement very early when your career was at its peak.  What made you take this tough decision?

Ravi Shastri:  I had two very serious knee injuries which started becoming chronic and I had no choice but to leave as I knew that I could not possibly play to the best of my ability.  So literally I was forced out of cricket because of knee injury and nothing else.  Now, I enjoy being a commentator as this still keeps me close to cricket.

M.Com:  Why does India go for foreign coaches when we have so many good world class senior cricketers?

Ravi Shastri (slightly annoyed):  It's not the question of foreign or Indian coaches.  I have stressed this again in the Indian press also a hundred times, but people don't get the point.  The point is the best man for the job.  Whether he is Indian, Pakistani, Australian, English….whatever, you hire the best man for the job.

M.Com: Why is ICL called a rebel cricket organization?

Ravi Shastri (a bit more annoyed):  I don't know.  I am not part of the ICL.  I am part of the IPL.  If you ask me any questions on IPL you are most welcome.

M.Com:  Talking about IPL, we feel there is too much of money, media hype and entertainment involved.  Will the crowd come to see the entertainment or cricket at the end of the day?

Ravi Shastri (back to his charming self):  I don't think so.  I think the game needed something new. This could revolutionize the game of cricket.  There's nothing wrong in people making money. It's also tremendous entertainment.  You see a lot of families coming in to watch cricket.  The good thing is it gets over in three hours.  Another good thing is you don't know the result.  Because its 20/20 any team can beat anybody. It's like a lottery.

M.Com:  Should sledging on the field be allowed?  If yes, then when and how do you draw the line between sledging and abuse/racial abuse?

Ravi Shastri: I never had problems with sledging but if it does get out of control, I think the match referee should reprimand the players.  You know you don't want it to go out of hand.  At the same time you don't want the players to 'wear bangles' and play a game of cricket.

M.Com:  So what your saying is, sledging is acceptable but it should not involve racial abuse?

Ravi Shastri:  You have to accept that in the heat of the moment, the tempers of the players are bound to go wild, so you got to expect sledging in sport, but you got to draw a line as well so it does not go out of bounds.

M.Com:  What is your take on the recent Harbhajan and Symmonds controversy and the India/Aussie rivalry both on and off the field?

Ravi Shastri:  I think it was nothing but media hype.  It was completely blown out of proportion. If not, it would have been settled on the field itself.

M.Com: According to you, who is the greatest batsman and bowler? And who do you think is the best in the present times?

Ravi Shastri: It's very difficult to compare generations.  In my generation, Vivian Richards was the best batsman and the fastest bowler I ever played against was Malcolm Marshall.  In today's generation, I would say Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara stand out in the last decade and a half, and if you look at the bowlers, you can say Shane Warne, Wasim Akram and Muthiah Murlidharan who is still going strong.  And you can't forget our own Anil Kumble.  He's really not got the credit he deserves - he's an outstanding bowler, a real champion.

M.Com:  How do you find the Oman Cricket Team?

Ravi Shastri:  I really didn't get a chance to observe the team closely.  I think they need more help from the ICC so that facilities improve here.  I think for starters a stadium is built here to encourage the players and that could make a big difference.

M.Com:  The younger generation of cricketers is visibly more aggressive compared to the older generation.  What is the reason for this?

Ravi Shastri: It's in all walks of life. You can see it in all fields not just cricket.  Compare your generation to the new generation.  It's the same thing, and its watching a lot of sports, its growing up in a different era, that all makes a difference.  But one needs the right balance between experience and youth.

M.Com: When did you last visit Mangalore and did you stay in your ancestral house?

Ravi Shastri:  I went to Mangalore in August/September 2007.  I didn't stay in my ancestral house but in a hotel because most of my family there has left and moved out of Mangalore.  It's always nice to go to Mangalore.  I'll try and make a point to go back every year as I have fond memories of Mangalore. 

M.Com:  Can you communicate in Sanskrit?

Ravi Shastri:  No, I cannot speak in Sanskrit.  The 'Shastri' in my name is more of a title than anything else.  When my parents talk to me in Kannada, I respond to them in English. But when I go back to Mangalore, even if I stay there for four or five days my Kannada improves.  I understand Kannada very well and can speak a bit too.

M.Com:  Congratulations on being a father after 18 years of marriage.  How do you feel on being a father?

Ravi Shastri:  Obviously it's a great feeling.  We're over the moon.  We've named our daughter Aleka.

M.Com:  We have a large number of cricket fans on  Your message to them.

Ravi Shastri: Cricket is a sport as well as entertainment.  Watch and play this game in the right spirit. I wish all the best to

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Drona, India Feb 9, 2014
Ravi Shastri was so slow in his batting that we could easily take a nap and come back to see the score board stuck.He is one of the most boring cricketers India has ever produced in my opinion.He would not make the Indian team with the current crop of players who are very aggressive.
Sushma, India Feb 8, 2014
Ravi shastri was a great cricketer of my time even admired by me. can't forget his Man of the series in sharjah
Ravikumar, India Apr 6, 2011
Ravishastri is my favourite cricketer and during his playing days I used to support and love him very much.
Sanjoy, India Apr 4, 2011
Best ever allrounder is Ravi Shastri :)
Sushang Jathal, India Feb 13, 2010
I am agree with ravi that worlds best bestmen is sachin & lara. But now lara is far behind against sachin. Sachin is best great. Also ravi is great allrounder. I am salute to ravi for his crickting brain. I am said to say that if the ravi was indian captain in 90s india became on no.1 position before 15 years.
rashmi ranjan, India Jul 18, 2009
Mr. neilson, perhaps u have never seen ravi playing in the match situations. He was as slow as a Gavaskar or a Boycot, true, but he could be as destructive as a Viv Richards on his day. The australian spin legend Warne who has repeatedly told that Ravi is one of the all-time great players of spin bowling he has ever bowled to and also considers him as one of his top 100 batsmen in his latest book. In the cricketing community he is held with high respect becoz he is an ACHEIVER.

During his time he had the highest ODI 100's among the indians(4 each with Srikant), the only indian double hundred maker in australia and 6 sixes in an over in any 1st class match against any bowler is no matter of joke. Also 15(11+4) international 100s cant be by an ordinary batsman. not only that one can take 150+ wickets in ODIs but not in test matches.

HE is a true CHAMPION cricketer of india. LONG LIVE RAVI.
Shaly Pereira, Oman Apr 21, 2008
I agree with u there Jaya. Suraj, Chris n Joachim have done a great job in pinning Shastri down for an interview. It was wonderful to see him pictured on along with all the leading newspapers and tabloids in Oman. A dose of appreciation for team mangalorean is what is most appropriate under this write-up.
Jaya Ramesh, Oman Apr 20, 2008
I felt very elated to watch the Champion of Champions Ravi Shastri as one of the Olympic torch bearers in Oman. Indians in Oman and Mangaloreans are very proud that Ravi Shastri was the Celebrity torch bearer in the Olympic Relay in Oman, amongst expatriates from Syria, UAE, Kuwait. Ravi was my senior and I am very proud to state that we were students from the same Alma Mater in Mumbai,India.
Chris and Suraj, and Joachim, You have done an excellent piece of interview with Ravi Shastri. Kudos to you all and M.Com Team. We appreciate it immensely especially, his valuable views, which are enlightening info on cricket today.
Nelson Lewis, Bahrain Apr 17, 2008
Dear Mr. Amarnath Bantwal,

Well, you are talking about the 182 runs and eight wickets that Ravi Shastri took in that series. Though I do not have statistics of that series, I concede with the statistics that you have provided as facts.

However, he batted in that game as if he was playing test cricket (and not one day cricket) and the required run rate just kept piling up.

Fortunately, the latter batsmen who came to the crease, managed to play some cameo innings and not only overcome the asking rate, but also win the two matches which were in critical stages at that junctures and snatch victories considering the situations, shall we say, virtually from the jaws of defeat. Other batsmen and bowlers should also receive due credit for helping India win the series and not just Ravi Shastri, who played the series in his customary fashion. No wonder, he considers Sunil Gavaskar as his Guru. Well, he will definitely develop his game to match Guru's. In that respect, his Guru was another batsman in the Geoff Boycott mould. Are you aware of this?

For your kind information, Ravi Shastri was a purely defensive batsman and a plodder and do not be carried away because he hit six sixers and consider that a great achievement. He hit six against the Baroda bowler, Tilak Raj, and not some international or penetrative first class bowler. In fact, Tilak Raj was neither a batsman or a bowler worth speaking of and his bowling average in 26 first class matches that he played stands at an exhorbitant 64.40.

For your kind information, I consider Sandeep Patil hitting six fours against a quality bowler like Bob Willis and Kapil Dev hitting third to sixth balls of an Eddie Hemmings over to avoid the follow on as great achievements.

If my memory serves me right, hitting fours and sixes in international cricket for both Sandeep Patil and Kapil Dev was just an easy thing, but not for Ravi Shastri, who could perform hitting sixes against the likes of Tilak Raj, who considering his bowling statistics leads me to speculate that he was press-ganged into service that day. However, the Baroda team captain may have rued his decision, because it just backfired or boomeranged on him.
Amarnath Bantwal, Kuwait Apr 15, 2008
Nelson Lewis- So why were you so surprised at Ravi Shastri winning the Champion of Champions Down-Under in 1985? Show me another guy who scored 182 runs and scalped 8 wickets in that series; 3 consecutive fifties in the last 3 matches is also no mean achievement tho he shared this feat with his fellow opener Kris Srikkanth....

Boring? Belt 6 sixers in an over is boring?

Do you remember the tied test match in Chennai when he scored 60+ and 48 N.O in the second innings..the second one came off at an astounding strike rate; Ask Greg Mathews who bore the brunt of his onslaught till Maninder Singh was declared LBW out. For more, also check with the Glamorgan team that hosted Shastri- of his six-hitting prowess or his exploits with the ball....

Nelson Lewis, Here was a champion who didnt drag his feet and retired at the young age of 31. Shastri wasn't the greatest of cricketers that India produced, but some of his achievements are truly worth emulating.
radha krishnan, UAE Apr 15, 2008
Congrats on becoming a father and best wishes to his wife (who is she?)

Best wishes to the shastri family.
Nelson Lewis, Bahrain Apr 14, 2008
I have never admired Ravi Shastri as a cricketer and, in fact, I felt that during his heydays, he was a boring cricketer - be it a batsman, bowler or a fielder. I got a shock of my life, when he was chosen as the "Champion of Champions" in the "World Championship of Cricket" held in Australia in 1985 and won an Audi car. I felt he was a wrong choice.

In fact, in two matches in that tournament the asking rate had gone up due to his overly defensive and slow batting and thanks to Kapil Dev and some others who came later and batted like men possessed, throwing caution to winds, India won the match.

The best part of the tournament was the intense duel between Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev. Richard Hadlee's bowling was a poetry in motion and the way Kapil Dev scored against one of the greatest bowlers of the game, was something out of this world. It was just heart-warming to see this top-of-the-drawer bowler taking a short run-up and bowling with a smooth action and Kapil Dev batting him like a Samurai.

Yes, I do agree when Ravi Shastri said that during his time Vivian Richards was the best. The beauty of Vivian Richards is that he was an aggressive and domineering batsman from the time he came on the international area till he retired. That cannot be said of some other batsmen who are called greats. I would say that they scored their runs, centuries and fifties, just because they got an opportunity. There were times these batsmen played like supermen and at other times, they were mere funks and chickened out against hostile bowling, be it pace or spin. They did not have consistency in their batting.

I have an aerogramme that I received from the Australian fast bowling legend, Dennis Lillee, years ago who, on my asking him, said that during his time he reckoned Vivian Richards as the most destructive batsman and John Edrich the most difficult batsman to dislodge.

All said and done Ravi Shastri is an excellent commentator, besides Sanjay Manjrekar.
Nilesh Prabhu, Sohar, Oman Apr 14, 2008
Very happy to read this interview. Is Ravi Shastri coming to Sohar. If so welcome sir.
Anita, Kuwait Apr 14, 2008
When I was in college I was big fan of Ravi Shastri. Even now he looks very handsome. Off course batting was also good.-:
kenny dmello , Kuwait Apr 14, 2008

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