W.V. Raman on women’s Tests: They will learn the more they play

Former India women's team head coach Raman says today's players like to attack and be busy at the crease rather than scratching around for runs.

Former head coach of women's team W.V. Raman advises wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia during a practice session.   -  FILE PHOTO/ VIJAY SONEJI

One clearly remembers that December evening in 2018 when W.V. Raman left the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters in Mumbai riding pillion on a bike. The former India batsman was interviewed for the head coach job in the women’s cricket team.

He bagged the job beating the other prominent names in contention. And over the last couple of years, Raman enjoyed success as he took India women’s team to the final of the T20 World Cup.

But last week, he was replaced by Ramesh Powar as the new head coach.

In a chat with Sportstar on Thursday, the former coach talks about the road ahead for India women’s team and what they should keep in mind ahead of the tour of England and Australia.

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It has been a week since your coaching stint ended. How’s life now?

Life is the same. I have never been too consumed by things, so yeah, such things will come and go in life. (laughs)

India will be playing a Test match after seven years. Do you think this is the right time to venture into the longer format again?

There is no such thing as the right timing or whatever. When obviously the girls are doing well and there is a lot of interest being generated, I think perhaps the administration feels that it is the right time to try and engage them in the Test format. As far as the girls are concerned, it is a case of opportunity for them to try and gauge their skills, test themselves and prove themselves about how good they are in this format as well.

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What are the challenges the players may face?

They will have the benefit of being allowed a little bit of follies to be committed because they are playing after a long time. They will have that cushion in a way because people will understand that it is not going to be easy for them to play Test cricket after seven years and that too, an away game, especially in England, where the ball can perhaps seam. I am not saying that they will not do well, but if in the event, they can’t do as well as expected, they will always have that leeway because they are playing after a long time. It will be a sort of great learning also.

How do you see the fact that a lot of players will be playing red-ball cricket for the first time?

That’s a good thing. They will not have any baggage in their heads, they might probably go out and do extraordinarily well. Everything is a matter of perception. There is no hard and fast rule that aisa hi hona chahiye. The thing is, it’s like the case of a bumble bee being told that it can’t fly because aerodynamically, it’s not built to fly. But it flies because nobody has told it that you can’t fly. Similarly, we do not have to tell too many things to the players who are young and have not played this Test format. Let them go there, work it out and do very well.

Raman in conversation with the players.   -  FILE PHOTO/ VIJAY SONEJI


You have worked extensively with strokeplayers Jemimah Rodrigues and Shafali Verma, who have only played white-ball cricket. How difficult will it be for them?

Even in men’s cricket, you get a lot more results as compared to what you would get four decades ago. The way the cricketers are brought up has changed. Today’s cricketers like to play their shots and they want to be busy at the crease. They don’t really like to just hang in there and scratch around for runs. That’s the way cricket is today. So, you have to sort of accept that this is how the pace of play will be. It’s as simple as that because everybody is the product of the environment or he will be shaped by his upbringing. So, these girls - just like the boys - are brought up in a generation or an atmosphere or an environment, where it is all about playing shots and playing attacking cricket. Moreover, all these days, they have only played shorter formats, so that sort of allows them to be impatient and they land into trouble at times, but they will learn the more they play.

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Pink ball Test in Australia will be a different ball game...

Look, it’s like damned if you do, damned if you don't. Let them have some experience. Why are we even taking it for granted that the girls will also find it difficult or they will have a bad game? Let’s see how it pans out. Let them gain the experience, let them play and then only we can talk about it. Why are we even thinking of repairing something when it is not even needed. Let it all happen.

What are the things that the players should keep in mind ahead of the England tour?

The most important thing is that they should live in the present. Gathering and talking to people who have played in England in the past is one thing, but going meticulously about what is told to them by people who have played this format, may also not be a great way to go about things. They have to go out and find out things for themselves. They will have to go out into a situation and work out their own way - that’s the best thing. It is better to work things around rather than listening to somebody else’s methods and trying to follow their methods is not something that these people have in their DNA. They should take things as they come and handle it.

But the English conditions are obviously different to Lucknow or a Surat…

For example, in England, you are not playing the pitches. You are only playing the weather. If the weather is decent, it’s okay, but nowadays you see, the pitches are more or less the same everywhere across the world. You do not have the characteristic individual behaviour of every venue today as compared to yesteryears. This has happened because of the standardisation of the pitches. So, unless the weather is a bit wonky in England - which it can be - if things are fine, I don’t think there will be any kind of devils in the pitches.

A lot of the senior players have played in England franchise leagues, will that help?

In a way that will help, but there is always a first time for everything. Those who have not played, for them, this is the first time.

How tough will it be to keep all the changes and controversies aside and perform well overseas?

If you are a professional, you should not worry about what is happening around you, which means, the cricketers will have to get back to their jobs and focus on what they have to do.

What is next for W.V. Raman?

WV Raman will now get into doing something which is very important for the family because there is a momentous occasion being planned. He is going to be busy with planning and executing that. (laughs)

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