Dubai: Is Vikram Rathore the right choice for India’s new batting coach? The selection of the former Indian opening batsman, who beat 14 applicants for the coveted post, raised many eyebrows as he is set to join duty from the upcoming series against South Africa.
Rathore, who played for India in the nineties, clearly does not enjoy the reputation of many of the applicants who were in the fray like the experienced Mumbai coach Pravin Amre or former England batsman Jonathan Trott. In international cricket, Rathore had scored just 131 runs from his six Tests and 193 runs from seven ODIs — while he had amassed 11,473 runs at an average of 49.66 in 146 first class matches. Though it is not always necessary that coaches have to be outstanding international players, he hasn’t exactly made a name as a remarkable coach too.
Speaking to Gulf News, India’s head coach Ravi Shastri expressed his confidence that Rathore can deliver as a batting coach. “He [Rathore] is experienced as he has been around for sometime in the coaching field. It was entirely the job of the selectors to pick the support staff. Rathore is young and I am sure he will fit into the environment quickly.”
Speaking to BCCI TV, Rathore admitted that the job will be a challenge for him. “It’s a big responsibility. I see myself supporting the team in whichever way I can. I will be working with the batters and I will be there to provide any technical help they might need. I think there will be a lot of discussions. I will be trying to understand their mindset and understand the decisions they will be making when they are batting.
“My prime job will be to prepare them in an ideal way before a series or a match. I will try and replicate things as close to the real scenario and get them ready.”
It is a known fact that at the Indian team level, no players need to be groomed as they make the team after attaining a certain level of maturity. Former batting coach Sanjay Bangar was a victim of India’s semi-final defeat in the World Cup and not because he could not groom the middle order batsmen. The middle order batsmen who failed were heavy scorers in India’s domestic cricket and in the Indian Premier League and hence it would be unfair to single out Bangar for the batsmen not delivering in that crucial World Cup match.
Rathore’s credentials as coach were not unimpressive as director of HPCA (Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association), coach of the Punjab Cricket Association and an assistant coach with Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. He was also a part of the senior selection committee, spearheaded by veteran Sandeep Patil from 2012 to 2016 and hence has watched and coached the current cricketers closely. The qualities that the selectors look for today is not the reputation of a coach, but his ability to adapt with the present team’s star players and the support staff. An example is how world’s greatest fielder and coach Jonty Rhodes could not make the final shortlist for India’s fielding coach as India retained R. Sridhar.