‘These girls keep complaining to their godmother or godfather.’
‘The people at the top listen to whatever the players say, but they don’t know what is happening in the team.’
Romesh Powar’s return as the coach of India’s women’s cricket team last week was hotly debated as he replaced W V Raman ahead of next month’s tour of England.
During his previous tenure as coach, Powar guided India to the T20 World Cup semi-final in 2018 before he was removed following a fall-out with senior pro Mithali Raj.
Raman’s ouster was surprising considering he guided India to the runners-up finish in the T20 World Cup last year. His last assignment was the home series against South Africa in March, which saw the team lose the ODI and T20I series.
Tushar Arothe suffered the same fate four years ago when he was shown the door despite guiding India to the ODI World Cup final in 2017. Arothe resigned as India coach after senior players, including current T20 Captain Harmanpreet Kaur, complained to the BCCI about his training methods.
In an exclusive interview with Rediff.com‘s Harish Kotian, Arothe asserts that the BCCI should stop listening to India’s women’s cricketers and not decide on the coaches according to the players’s whims and fancies.
What is your reaction to W V Raman’s removal ascoach?
One year of Raman’s tenure was lost due to the COVID-19 situation from the T20 World Cup (in 2020) till the South Africa series (in March). I personally feel he should have got one more chance, as under him the Indian team reached the T20 World Cup final last year.
In his letter to BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, aman has said the ‘prima donna culture’ of the Indian women’s team needs to end. Did you experience something similar during your tenure?
Honestly speaking, Indian women’s cricket team has a lot of godmothers. Each player has one person or the other at the top to whom they go and complain. Those people are sitting at the top, these are people having some hold in women’s cricket in India. They should not be listening to the girls.
Purnima Rau also faced the same thing in the past when she was removed as the coach. So, it is showing that the girls are playing some games. I would request the people in power not to listen to the girls. If someone is appointed, they should be there.
The last three coaches of the Indian women’s team, including you, were all removed after differences with the players. What do you think is happening?
There is no accountability of the players’ performances.
Whether I perform or not I should be in the team all the time. That is how they think and they go and talk to someone at the top. Then, the full blame falls on the coaches, which is not a good sign.
The coach doesn’t go out and play and that is why I always say the coaching part is more difficult. When you are playing, your fate is in your hands. But, as a coach, your fate is in the hands of someone else.
The men’s team is functioning well under Coach Ravi Shastri. We don’t see such things happening against him…
There is a lot of transparency in Indian men’s cricket, I would say, and there is a lot of politics in Indian women’s cricket!
These girls keep complaining to their godmother or godfather and keep listening to them. The people at the top listen to whatever they say, but they don’t know what is happening in the team; they don’t come to the ground every day.
If you see, in the past, the girls were not working hard and that is why the coaches were not happy. But who will listen to the coaches?
I don’t know how they can take things for granted because they are playing for the Indian team.
It is natural that if you take someone out of their comfort zone they will revolt against you, but they don’t realise that I was doing this for their betterment and the improvement of Indian cricket.
What I told them was the reason why we lost in the (ODI) World Cup final (against England in 2017) was mainly due to lack of fitness.
Our girls were comparing themselves to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, but my argument was that we need to compare ourselves with the top teams like Australia, England or New Zealand.
If your fitness is up to the mark, then your agility is good and you will be good when it comes to running between the wickets or when fielding.
The girls used to just come to the camp to do their batting or bowling. They even complained against my approach in practice sessions before the 2017 World Cup to a senior BCCI official who dismissed the issue, saying, ‘Tushar is doing the right thing; I have been watching him. He is not sitting in the shade, but he is out in the ground.’
How do you look at the appointment of Ramesh Powar, who was earlier removed after differences with Mithali Raj? Do you expect the situation to flare up again?
I don’t think that will be repeated, because both are professionals. Both have a common goal; they both want India to do well. So I am sure they will work together for that cause.
What would your advice be to the BCCI officials as far as the Indian women’s team coaches are concerned?
How do we get things right, because coaches need a long run to make an impact?
Firstly, get these godmothers or grandfathers out of the scheme of things.
Secondly, stop listening to the players, because if the BCCI has placed faith in the coach they should listen to the coach and not the players.
And when the players don’t perform to expectations, it all comes down to the coach only.
The players keep complaining about the coaches, but they should look at their own performances. So, the players should be held accountable.
Talking about the selection of the team, look at the Indian team selected for the South Africa series. How could the selectors rest Shikha Pandey or Taniya Bhatia who got a chance to play after 12 months?
There is no transparency; there is no vision from the women’s selection panel.
If you look at the last T20 World Cup, Shikha did extremely well, Taniya also performed well with the gloves.
Shafali Verma is only 15, but she was dropped despite doing well.
Do you have any valid reasons for keeping out these players? If you ask, they have no reasons for dropping these players. There is no vision.
Is having different captains for the different formats proving to be a problem for the Indian team, because Mithali Raj leads the Test and ODI teams, while Harmanpreet Kaur is the T20 captain?
Mithali has been doing extremely well over the years and her performance has not been affected by the extra responsibility of captaincy.
If you see, in the 2017 World Cup, Mithali led from the front with the bat, scoring a lot of runs.
And this story no one knows. Harmanpreet got injured during the match against the West Indies. One of her fingers got injured because the outfield was wet.
She was crying and said, “I was waiting for the World Cup and now this happened.” I consoled her and told her that “All this happens, Harry.”
At that point the selectors said that we will send her back home. But I put my foot down and said that we won’t send her back because you don’t have anyone else in India who is better than Harmanpreet and can take her place.
I told them that even a half-fit Harmanpreet is better than anyone else. If you see, in that World Cup, in the first few games she struggled to get runs, but performed well in the last few games (scoring a match-winning 171 off 115 balls against Australia in the semi-final in Derby).
I feel having two different captains is necessary because, anyway, Mithali has retired from T20 Internationals. So you need a different captain for that team and Harmanpreet is the natural choice.
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