The only big change in the Indian cricket team’s support staff after the disappointment of the ICC World Cup has been the replacement of Sanjay Bangar with Vikram Rathour as batting coach.
Even though Bangar seems to be far from impressed by his removal, the man who has taken his job in the Indian team has his eyes set on the future. In an interview with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Rathour reflected on his new role and responsibility.
“I see myself supporting the team in whichever way I can,” he said. “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.”
The 50-year-old Rathour played six Tests and seven One-Day Internationals for India in 1996 and was a domestic heavyweight for Punjab. Till 2016, he was a senior national selector under Sandeep Patil’s chairmanship. And apart from this, he has also enhanced his coaching credentials over the years.
“I did Level A and B from BCCI and Level C from Cricket Australia. I learned this art. I think coaching is something that you keep getting better at. The idea is about getting better after every session. You can make mistakes and you need to accept that you’ve made mistakes but need to analyse them and sort them out,” he said.
“At this level, man-management is the key. How you support them, how you look after them in tough times has been my strength. The three courses have given me an edge in understanding the technique and technical aspect. I have been the Head Coach with Punjab and Himachal and also the Director of Cricket at Himachal and know what the players expect.”
Middle-order muddle in ODIs
Rathour says his focus will be to create an environment where players are allowed to make mistakes. The key for him is to keep building confidence within the group.
“I want to create an environment where players aren’t scared of making mistakes, where mistakes are not looked down upon because they are learning opportunities. You can fail once in a while, but you must learn from your failures and get better,” he said.
India’s strength traditionally has been their batting, but over the past few years it’s the bowling department that has stood out. While this change can surely be attributed to Jasprit Bumrah and Co’s immense ability, there’s no denying that there have been glaring shortcomings in the team’s batting order for a while now.
This weakness, of course, was laid bare at the World Cup, where India’s middle order looked unconvincing right through the tournament. And at the center of the problem was the No 4 slot. For Rathour, though, the issue is more than that of just one position.
“It is not just about the World Cup. It is one slot (we must look at). The middle-order in one-day is not doing well and we must, of course, sort it out,” he said. “Shreyas Iyer has done well in the last couple of games and we also have Manish Pandey. These two guys have done very well in domestic cricket and with India A. These are the batters who are capable of doing the job and I have no doubt about it in my mind.
“It is a matter of getting it right at the top level. We need to back them and provide them with the right preparations so that they can be there for a longer time. They have enough talent in them to do well. The other area of concern is the opening partnership in Tests. We have options and there is healthy competition. We need to find a way for them to be more consistent.”