Disappointed with Rohit Sharma’s captaincy; no accountability for coaches and captain: Sunil Gavaskar

A former Indian skipper also wanted to know if a proper analysis of India’s losses had been done by selectors and BCCI. Speaking specifically about India’s World Test Championship loss to Australia last month, he said coach Dravid and captain Rohit should have been asked to explain the decisions they made.

They should have been asked questions: Why did you take the field first? Okay, during the toss it was explained that it was cloudy and everything. After that, the question should be: Were you unaware of Travis Head’s weakness against short ball? Why was the bouncer only used when he scored 80 points. You know, as soon as Head went to bat, Ricky Ponting in the commentary booth said: Knock him out, knock him out. Everybody knew that, but we didn’t try.

After the WTC loss, Rohit Sharma talked about the lack of preparation and how in a perfect world the team needs 20 days to prepare. Gavaskar didn’t believe that argument. What kind of preparation are we talking about? They have now gone to the West Indies. You have an example of a world championship test in front of you. Do you play any matches? So what’s all this talk about 20-25 days? …When you talk about preparation, be sincere about it. Go 15 days in advance, play two warm-up matches. The main guys can rest, and the secondary players can challenge those who aren’t doing well. He doesn’t get a chance to show he’s good enough.

Gavaskar puts the blame on the reluctance of the senior players because they are confident in their spots. The truth is that the core guys don’t want to leave early. Because they know that no matter what, they will get picked. And when you get out early, they talk about the workload. If you call yourself the strongest team in the world or stronger than first generations, how can you break so soon? How can you have a workload problem when you’re playing a 20-quarter game?

The first batsman to cross the 10,000-goal mark also raised the issue of coaches’ responsibility. While batting coach Rathur was left over from the previous Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri regime, bowling coach Mhambri started under head coach Dravid.

If batters make the same mistakes over and over again, you need to ask what happened to your technique. How have you tried to improve the batter? Have you tried to tell him to maybe take a different defense. Don’t take the stump kick defense, take thee protection from hitting in the middle and away from the stump.

I remember one day calling Virender Sehwag unexpectedly. He wasn’t scoring many points. I said to him, Viru, just try the stump side kick defense. He asked: Why, Sonny Bhai? Then I said to him: Look, you’re not known for good footwork. Sometimes when you’re out, you reach for the ball, and that makes it hard for you. So maybe if you take the kicking defense, you’ll know right away that the ball is off the stump. That’s where the coach can make a difference.

In a recent interview with The Indian Express, Ravichandran Ashwin said teammates used to be friends, but now we’re just colleagues. Gavaskar believes this is the most telling statement about the team environment.

It’s sad because you should be able to get together after the game and maybe not talk about the game, but talk about the music, the movies you like, the interest in space. But if that doesn’t happen, it’s disappointing. That being said, the new thing that started 20 years ago or more is that each player gets a separate room. That too may be a factor…

As a commentator, Gavaskar has been present on the pitches in almost every match played by India, both at home and abroad, and has been available for batsmen to get any advice on batting. Has anyone contacted him in the last 5-10 years?

No, no opril. Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.S. Laxman came to me regularly. They came to me with a particular problem, and you could tell them something that you observed, he said.

I have no ego about it, I could go and talk to them, but since there are two coaches on the team, Rahul Dravid and Vikram Rathore, sometimes you hold back because you don’t want to confuse them with too much information.

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