Ravi Shastri is in your face. He has total and utter confidence in everything he says. He says it as if it is his destiny. But for all of those who think this confident avatar is a result of all that time spent in the broadcast industry, this old Doordarshan interview from the Eighties proves otherwise.
For starters, sample this. The presenter asks him a simple question about when he felt he was ready for cricket at the highest level. In reply, Shastri first revealed that he only started playing cricket at the age of 13 (very interesting when one considers that he made his India debut at the age of 19, just six years later).
So when you started playing cricket, when did you realise that you would be able to make a career in it?
Shastri: In the first year itself. My performances for my school were very good and I immediately knew on the first day that I would play for the country.
On the first day? That’s rather unusual given how people don’t know for years...
Shastri: Yes, but I knew... on the first day.
The interview then veers towards the circumstances of his Test debut for India during the 1981 tour of New Zealand. He had impressed early in the domestic season with figures of 9/101 in the 1981 Irani Trophy and when Dilip Doshi was injured, he was called in. And skipper Sunil Gavaskar decided to play him right away.
He took to Test cricket like a duck takes to water. His 15 wickets in the series were the highest for either side and within eighteen months of his debut, Shastri had moved up from the tenth position in the batting order to opening the batting. Through all this, his immense self-belief helped.
It doesn’t matter which field you seem to approach, you almost always do it with a lot of confidence... where does this confidence come from?
Shastri: I have a contract with the one above. Apna understanding hai mutual [we have an understanding].
So you have signed a contract that whatever you will do, you will be a superhit...
Shastri: Hopefully, touch wood.
The interview contains many other interesting bits which make it a must-watch. The one thing you do realise while watching it is that Shastri hasn’t changed much – his personality, his confidence are all just what they were all those years ago.
Note: The audio isn’t great but the content is, so put on your headphones for this one. The link will take you to YouTube.com.