Live Interview with Sandeep Patil, Southampton

30 June 1996

Sandeep Patil is currently the Manager of the Indian cricket team touring England. Patil was one of the most attacking batsmen produced by India. He represented India in 29 Test matches and 45 One-day Internationals. He made his highest Test score, 174, against Australia in 1980-81, but his most spectacular innings came in England in 1982. During the course of this innings, he set up a world record for the maximum number of runs scored in an over by scoring 6 boundaries in an over from Willis (which included a no ball). He shares this record with Andy Roberts (WI), Ian Botham (ENG), Kapil Dev (IND) and Ian Smith (NZ). We met him at Southampton, where India was playing Hampshire and fielded him questions from cricket fans around the World.

Seran, USA: There are more youngesters/debutants in this tour than any other tour in the past. How do you (as a manager) motivate the team and the debutants?

Patil: Well... first and foremost, manager's job is to win respect. This has been my new assignment. I have just taken over from Wadekar. It becomes more interesting to handle two lots of players - some have tasted success and failures, and some who are trying to establish. So the job becomes - I am not saying difficult - but it becomes interesting. It is my job and I am handling it and trying my best to encourage the youngsters...

It is very different from managing Under-19s. The problems, worries, the questions, the atmosphere - all are totally different... The cricket at the highest level is totally different.

Suraj Uthappa: You have had the chance to be involved with the Indian team for more than 2 decades. How has your earlier involvement with the team (as a player) helped you to shape the current side ?

Patil: I left International cricket in 1986, so I am back after a decade. I played from 79 to 86 - a wonderful experience. As a player it is different... As a manager you have different responsibilities to shoulder...

You have to think for others, not yourself, especially the youngsters who have come in... Not necessarily problems on the field but problems off the field also.. Very essential to have a personal touch for all players... Man management is the key.

Atul Raghunath Khanzode, USA: How would you describe your management style?

Patil: My style is very simple. I allow players to relax, I allow him to settle down, rather than expecting too many things in a short time. I have given him time, not expecting things in a short time. I have given myself time, and I am giving the players time. Can't expect hundreds all the time... it may not last...

Must have a long term plan. I allow them to relax, settle down, talk, allow myself to learn about their thinking level, their attitutdes...

I work with 16 individuals... not a team... Strategies are with a team. But, for individuals, I sit with them alone...

Every manager is different, this is my own style.

Shashin Shah, Kenya/USA: How does your management strategy differ from Ajit Wadekar's?

Patil: I've just started.. yet to prove my points. I haven't done anything special on this tour. Nobody wants to fail in life... I want Indian cricket to survive, I want it to give results, I am working on that..

What is important is Indian cricket.

Sameer Amte, Kingsville, Texas, USA: Can you explain your decision to talk to the press over Kambli's dismissal?

Patil: He has been disciplined, not dismissed.

Mr. Bindra has clearly stated and given the reasons for his being dropped. He has been disciplined. He was not picked because of earlier problems with the Board, before I took over.

I believe he had some problems previously, the reports were discussed in that meeting which Mr. Bindra has clarified. I don't know what period the Board has in mind though for his disciplinary action. The Board is in a better position to answer this.

D. Sanyal, Tokyo, Japan: Congratulations to you and the Indian team for a much better performance in the second test. Your decision to field the new faces has been rewarded by the performace of Ganguly and Dravid. Since the third seamer Paras Mhambrey has not been too effective, would you like to include Hirwani in the third test considering his recent success against British Universitites and the general weakness of the English batsmen against leg spin ?

Patil: Well, it's nice to hear questions from Tokyo. It's great that people are following Indian cricket from there.

It is not I who have selected new faces... It is the selectors who have faith in youngsters and rightly so! My captain Azhar felt that this is the right time to introduce new blood.

Talking about Mhambrey, it is too early to judge whether he has done good enough or he still has a point to prove. You cannot judge just on two matches, I would like to give him many more chances.

Hirwani's inclusion will depend on the kind of wicket we will get at Trent Bridge. He is on the tour because we know the English are not comfortable against the spin bowling. We will definitely play an additional spinner at Trent Bridge.

Alak Chakravorty, Chicago, USA: On the fourth day of the Lord's Test of this series, India scored only 60 runs in 30 overs in the morning after having erased England's total within about half-hours play. Was this a conscious strategy, or did England just bowl well to restrict India? In retrospect, should India have batted more aggressively during this session?

Patil: Well, saying things from outside the boundary line is one thing, going in the middle and performing is another.

Every batsmen who goes in wants to score 100 every bowler with the ball wants to get 5 wickets. Rahul Dravid and we wanted more runs, but we couldn't get it because the English bowlers bowled very steady. I am not trying to defend Rahul Dravid, but it didn't happen. Things never happen the way you want, if it did there would be no problem in cricket.

D. Sanyal, Tokyo, Japan: What is the reason of Kumble's lack of form ? (he is showing signs of recovery, though)

Patil: We only talk about batsmen going off form... It can also happen to bowlers. I presume he was just off form, but the 2nd innings [of the second Test] shows that it is coming back.

Vipul Buddhdev, USA: The Indian batsmen often seem to panic when Sachin Tendulkar is out. Is that why Sachin has been moved from position 1 to 4 in the batting order ?

Patil: He bats #1 only in ODIS.

Same goes for Lara and WI, Mark and Steve Waughs and Aus, Atherton and Hick and England... same goes for India, but it is not true.

Cricket is played by 11 players, not by individuals...

Tim Brocklehurst, UK: What, have you found, is the best brief to give Sachin Tendulkar before he goes out to bat?

Patil: Don't get out!!

Indian fans at Lords: Ganguly seems to have justified his selection. Did you expect he would so well? Do you think India has found its number three? Do you see him as an all rounder or as a bat?

Patil: The moment he was selected proves that he was good. Only 16 were selected, from thousands. He must be good. He has already played and toured... It is not his first tour. He has rightly proved his selection. It is too early for anyone to say whether he will be settling down at #3. He has just started his career. The sooner he does settle down, the better for him and for Indian cricket.

Sadiq Yusuf, USA: Can you give us your opinion on some promising young middle-order bats who played under you in the A team last year - VVS Laxman, Amol Muzumdar, S Sharath etc - their strengths, weaknesses ?

Patil: VVSL is certainly a very bright prospect. He came very very close to getting on this tour. S Sharath is not young, but has got plenty of runs. Muzumdar looked very promising, but has not shown the consistency we expect... He will have to work much harder. I don't believe in weak or strong points. The kind of cricket they have played is very different from Test cricket. Unless they play Test cricket, it is difficult to say if they are good or bad.

Sadiq Yusuf, USA: Who do you see as the promising young test-match-type opening batsmen of the future for India ? Are there any names that come to mind ?

Patil: Yeah, we are having a problem with establishing an opening pair. We don't have an established one. It is a major concern. I don't have anybody in mind. When we go back, the Indian selectors will have to give it a good thought. I have not seen any promising opening batsmen back home.

Kiran Godbole, India: Why does India perform consistently poorly abroad, but well on home soil?

Patil: It happens with all the sides. When England tours India, they perform badly but this is no excuse. The record says so. When Australia tour India they have problems. When WI tour India they have problems. When we tour WI, we have problems. It is going to be like this for the next 100 years. We need to select a team which is suitable to play in those conditions. When we tour England we need to select a team for the English conditions, not depend on players who have done well at home.

That is not my problem. I have no say in selection. I can only suggest.

Sadiq Yusuf, USA: Who do you see as the promising young fast bowlers for India ? What is your opinion of Ankola, Mhambrey, David Johnson, Iqbal Siddiqui etc. ?

Patil: Three months back, people said we have no one but Srinath. Now, we have Srianth and Prasad. So in 3 months, we may have more. Mhambrey is there, he is promising, so is Salil Ankola. There is also Vaidya and David Johnson in the wings... They all have potential.

Kiran Godbole, India: With the exception of Srinath, Indian fast bowlers like Ankola and Vivek Razdan have not been given a proper chance to prove themselves. Is that a fair comment?

Patil: I would say yes. Ankola and many others earlier did not get a fair deal but I can assure that as long as I am here, every selected player will get a fair deal. Ankola may play in the test... All 16 could get in the side... It depends on the wicket.

Prakash Melwani, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong: Since India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka are so close geographically and have so many talented players, why are Tests and One-day internationals not arranged on a regular basis between the three countries?

Patil: It is very easy to say why not. The International calendar is planned much in advance. It is decided at the ICC level. When they meet they decide about 5 years in advance. Indian calendar is planned for next 2 years already. The Board representatives meet and decide. We have no say.

Ranjit Gupte, USA: Sandip, let me just first say that I am a huge fan of yours. You were dropped after Delhi Test Match for playing an irresponsible shot. Do you think that it was fair to you? Do you still hold any grudge against the then Indian Captain (Gavaskar) or the Indian Cricket Board?

Patil: I have no complaints or regrets with my career. I am more concerned with the future of the Indian cricket. I am very happy and hope to carry on with the good wishes of my friends and fans.

Ranjit Gupte, USA: What are your abiding memories of the World Cup in 1983 ?

Patil: Well, winning the World Cup was certainly the most memorable day. Those who played in 83 WC would remember that as a career highlight. There have not been many personal highlights in my career, so I definitely remeber 83 victory on a personal level too.

Shashin Shah, Kenya/USA: As an Indian residing in Kenya, I noticed that you played a year of league cricket in Kenya. Who do you reckon are the best upcoming players or Test material players there?

Patil: I think Steve Tikolo and Maurice Odumbe undoubtedly! Their attitude and approach has been so positive, I won't be hesitant to say that they can play Test cricket.

Anonymous user from New York, USA: What, in your opinion, is the public's greatest misconception about International cricket as it is played today?

Patil: Difficult to answer... Depends on what every individual expects from the game. It varies at different levels. I always played for fun. I never had any ambitions to play for 10 years or score 25 centuries. There are many seniors who come and still enjoy the game, so many youngsters who come and criticise.

Ranjit Gupte, USA: Any future plans of going back to Movies?

Patil: Well, if given a chance, yes, why not? But I don't think anyone would dare to give me another chance! (laughs)

Ravi, USA: Tell us more about that disk which you cut (some Reggae songs etc.)

Patil: I've got so many of them... so many of them... Reggae was very popular in the early eighties. Now I have kids and they have different tastes. I have to now listen to what they like. Reggae has more rhythm. I really like that.

CASIO Photographs courtesy of Casio's QV-10 Digital Camera

Date-stamped : 07 Oct1998 - 04:33