MUMBAI: It would not be an exaggeration to say that after Sachin Tendulkar
, the next big debut Indian cricket was waiting for was that of Prithvi Pankaj Shaw. Because like Tendulkar, Shaw scored big in school cricket. Like Tendulkar, Shaw got hundreds on Ranji and Duleep debut and like Tendulkar, Shaw is small in size, but already has developed the reputation of scaling the tallest peaks. After Shaw's debut ton in Rajkot, TOI caught up with the Master as he analysed the youngster's game and advised him to keep it simple.
READ ALSO: Prithvi Shaw's debut ton puts India in pole position
Many players begin their careers with a lot of hype. But all don't make their mark with the same confidence as Prithvi.
I'm sure it must be extremely relieving that he's been able to get a big score in his first outing. A big question mark always is 'a guy has done well at the domestic level, now will he be able to do the same at the international level?' However talented the guy is, there is always a question mark. And a century kind of seals it. The figure is magical. Everyone starts thinking differently. As far as I am concerned, the first hurdle that he was going to encounter is out of the way now. It cements your spot in the team and help you announce to the world that you belong here.
What stands out for you about Prithvi?
Whatever I have seen of him, he's been a fast learner. To me, being talented is one thing but what you do with that talent becomes more important. If you want to succeed at the international level you've got to be a fast learner. And Prithvi is a very good learner. When somebody has to perform and sustain at this level, and play cricket at different grounds and conditions across the world for a long time to come, adaptability becomes the critical factor. I feel he has the knack to adapt to different situations and conditions. To me, that is Prithvi's biggest strength.
Does the fact that a Mumbai kid gets to play so many games help in them building an innings at the higher level…
The more matches you play the better it is. The other day when I attended the Times of India event (Times Shield), I said 'for Mumbai to win so many Ranji titles, I would give credit to Times Of India for arranging Times Shield. So many top cricketers from all over would come here to play the Times Shield and that helped them as well as Mumbai cricket because the overall standard of the game went up and local cricketers benefited. That tradition needs to be continued with.
Prithvi was concerned about his back-foot play at one point. He spoke with you. Was he overtly worried?
He discussed it with me some time ago and all I asked him was 'have you been feeling uncomfortable about it?' His answer was 'no'. 'Are the bowlers feeling uncomfortable about it / Is the scoreboard speaking for you?' - Then why change anything unnecessarily. When things are not broken, don't break them so that you can mend them again. If you're being able to adjust, then it's fine. In time, there'll be a lot changes taking place in your game with experience. And you've got to ride that tide.
As a cricketer's career develops, changes do occur. We've seen you making so many changes in your own game as you tried to adapt all the time.
Changes will happen as he goes on playing more cricket at this level. It is inevitable. But until then, don't keep finding faults with yourself. Whatever changes he (Prithvi) may need to make, they will happen with time. But right now, everything is fine. So don't go looking out for problems.
You recently spoke about how you told Prithvi 'if anyone asks you to change your batting grip, you should ask that person to come and speak with me'...
That was my chat with him. All I told him was 'don't change anything till the time you're being bothered by those things'. If you're being dismissed because of one particular thing very regularly, that is when you can start looking at it.
What's your earliest impression of Prithvi? When did you first see him bat?
Yes, we had spoken almost 10 years ago. Jagdish Chavan a friend of mine from MIG once asked me to take a look at Prithvi. He said 'there's this young kid who wants to meet you and it would be nice if you could have a look at him'. Prithvi wanted to discuss his game and he was very young at that time. So I had a look at him and at first glance, I told him (Chavan), this boy will end up playing for India. I remember telling him 'you're looking at a future India cricketer'. He said 'are you sure?' I said 'mark my words, this guy will end up playing for India'. So, that was my very first impression of Prithvi.
What was the special thing that you saw?
Just basic things. At that age, the hand-eye coordination he had. The way he picked up the line and the length. It was really exceptional. At that age, no one can generate power. That comes with age. But technically how many guys are so correct. I could see that he had that natural talent, a gift and I felt not many guys have that.
It must have been special for you to see him not just make his debut, but also score a ton.
In fact, Jagdish called me today afternoon and said 'I just couldn't text you on such a special occasion. I had to call'. That's because there were a few things I had shared with him and they've all come true.
When you debut at such a young age, you're in for the long haul. What does it eventually boil down to?
It boils down to adjustment and adaptability. If you're able to make those adjustments in your game from time to time, then you're in for the big haul. At this level, it's not always about being correct all the time. It's about being able to adjust and adapt all the time. So, if you're able to do that consistently, then most of the problems are taken care of. Smartness matters. It's a combination of these things.
Prithvi has just started. He's 18. What should a cricketer keep in mind at this age, knowing he's got to keep doing this for 15-18 years…
Just go with the flow. Don't calculate or think too much. Just enjoy your cricket. Every outing is a special outing. Every outing, you go out with a lot of pride. That's what it was for me. I took a lot of pride in walking out on the field - be it for India or Mumbai or any club for that matter. Just give all the possible respect you can to the game.