One casualty after the Indian team’s early exit from the T20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy was bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad. He tells Abhishek Raghunath why his removal is not justified and why bowlers fade away soon.
Abhishek Raghunath: What do you have to say on the way the BCCI terminated your services?
Venkatesh Prasad: I would have loved to continue. It makes sense for me to stay on and contribute till the end of the World Cup [in 2011]. How has the board measured my contribution? Just by the end results? You have to assess my contributions objectively.
ASSIGNMENT NEEDED: Former pacer Venkatesh Prasad says BCCI has not judged him fairly.
With regards to practical and technical knowledge, I am ahead than most other coaches and players. Someone cannot get bad suddenly. We say batting is our strength. So even if the bowlers give 40 runs too many, our batsmen should be able to chase it down. But the batting fell short. So it was not just the bowling that was at fault.
Abhishek Raghunath: Why do most young pacers lose steam after the first two years?
Venkatesh Prasad: Fitness and over-loading play a key role in this. As soon as we see a youngster bowling fast, we get excited. We don’t think about the formation of their body structure. He does well in the under 19 team and he’s straightaway brought into the Indian team. Unless it’s an exceptional talent like Sachin Tendulkar, he shouldn’t play internationals. It holds true for both batsmen and bowlers.
He does not have the mental maturity and his body cannot cope with the physical strain. He starts doubting his own ability after a bad phase, and niggles start affecting him because his body is still developing. Why do you think Australians, the English and South Africans make their debuts when they are 24 or 25? They are strong mentally. Once he’s done in the under 19, let him play for the state. All players go through a bad phase. If he comes out of his bad phase with flying colours in domestic cricket then he’ll be very good in the Indian side.
Abhishek Raghunath: Do players neglect national pride for money?
I don’t think that’s true. It is a professional sport and there is so much money coming in. That’s good for cricket. Players need to understand their responsibilities to the nation and the clubs and their employers. Loyalty shouldn’t only lie with those who pay you the most. You have examples like Kumble, Dravid and Tendulkar who give their best in all formats of the game.
Abhishek Raghunath: Do you think playing too much cricket is bad for the players?
No. You cannot pick and choose your events. The amount of money you make now is 40 to 50 times of what players made some time back. The person who pays you so much will expect more from you. Lifespan is shrinking.
You should be able to play for 10 years properly if you manage yourself well. The player should be able to manage injuries and his physical training schedule. The amount of money you can make in 10 years is a lot.
Abhishek Raghunath: Are seven-match ODI series getting to players?
I am a firm believer in rotation. We need to have good bench strength. Seven match series’ are demanding but cricket boards have made their decisions and that’ s how it’ll be. The coach should make sure that rested players don’t feel that they are been dropped.
Will firebrands like Sreesanth and Harbhajan go the Symonds way?
That’s a very individualistic characteristic. You need to be aggressive but you need to control it. We need to set up counselling centres and also workshops where players are taught how to speak to the media. n
Work experience: Bowling coach, Indian cricket team; bowling coach for Indian Premier League franchise Chennai Super Kings; former player India and Karnataka
Education: Bachelor of Commerce from Bangalore University, England Cricket Board certified Level 3 coach, Administration management degree from Asian Cricket Council
Interests: Playing golf, watching football and tennis