For the first time in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Parthiv Patel failed to make an appearance in the tournament and had to watch the action unfold from the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) bench. In an exclusive interview with Cricket.com, the India wicketkeeper opens up about various topics including the best player to ‘keep wickets in Tests, whether Rohit Sharma should lead India in white-ball cricket and his thoughts on Virat Kohli’s captaincy.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
IPL 2020 must have been a strange season for you, having not played a single game
It was disappointing not to get a game, especially when the team was doing well. I don’t think I am in a position to explain why I didn’t get a game. The team management can answer it in a better way than I could. As a player, there are certain things which are not in your hand, you just got to make sure that you keep training hard, you keep yourself ready, available when there’s an opportunity. That’s exactly what I was doing in Dubai – staying in a bubble, training hard, was making sure that I stay ready. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way I wanted.
Were you disappointed that someone of your stature, didn’t get at least a couple of games in the tournament?
As I said, it was disappointing not to get a game throughout the tournament, especially when so many players were tried. As a player, your hands are always tied. You can’t do much. The only thing as player you could do is keep working hard. Having led a first-class side here in Gujarat, I can understand, you can’t give an opportunity to everyone. When some kind of a combination has been set, if there is some kind of thinking behind one combination, which the captain, the coach and everyone has believed in, as a player you have to respect that and try to make sure you help anyone in any which way you can.
How do you explain RCB’s performance in the two halves of the tournament?
IPL is such a tournament where you have to make sure you keep the intensity going throughout the tournament. If not, you’ve got to peak at the right time like Sunrisers. At the other end, a team like Mumbai Indians, who made sure they kept the intensity going throughout the tournament. These are a couple of things that I thought were extremely crucial going into these long tournaments. Our first half, we batted brilliantly, we bowled brilliantly, but we lost a bit of intensity, lost a bit of momentum. Momentum is very, very big in this kind of tournament, especially in 14 games, when you win one or two, suddenly you get on a roll. Similarly, if you lose one or two, you get into that roll of losing as well. I thought we got into that roll of losing in the business end of the tournament.
What are your thoughts on Virat Kohli’s captaincy?
He is very attacking player himself. He likes to get on with it. I thought he was slightly defensive in taking those decisions as a captain. Other than that, he has been a very successful India captain, no doubt about it. But if you look around RCB’s records in eight years, it is obviously been a long, long time. I am sitting at this point of time neither in Sehwag’s shoes (Backing Kohli to continue as captain) nor in Gautam Gambhir’s shoes (replace Kohli as captain). The franchise should decide on it. I don’t think as players, we have anything to say about it. On the other hand, if you look at how Rohit (Sharma) has led the team, how he has matured players – Bumrah or a Hardik Pandya or a Krunal Pandya.
They were young players when they got into Mumbai Indians. They’ve been there since 2013, 2014. If you look at pressure games or success ratio in pressure games, I think Rohit has done really well in making sure that he takes those decisions very wisely and correctly as well. I would say, Rohit is a slightly better experienced captain in terms of winning those playoff games.
India is no stranger to split captaincy. Keeping that in mind, do you think Rohit Sharma should be handed the white-ball captaincy?
I don’t think there is anything new that you should be afraid of trying. If there is something that can benefit Indian cricket, if something can benefit India winning world titles, ICC trophies and stuff like that, why not. If the selectors and the BCCI believe in it, why not. I don’t believe in “it is not in our culture.”
There is only one culture which we should be thinking about is how we can win. Everything else should be measured by performance. I don’t see a reason why we should not give captaincy to Rohit because it has never happened.
RCB had all their bases covered this season. Do you think they had as strong a team as Mumbai Indians, if not more?
I personally felt that we had a team that could win the tournament. Everyone in the camp felt it. We had all the bases covered. Sometimes the playoff games just doesn’t go your way. Scoring 130 in a playoff game, we came very close. I thought we fought really hard. But as I said, you can’t just blame the captain. There are a lot of other things as well – there is director of cricket, there is head coach – there are a lot of other things involved in it. To blame the captain is also not true. I personally feel he (Kohli) should not be the only one held responsible for RCB not winning. The role of Mike Hesson, Simon Katich – quite experienced coaches, been there and thereabouts. There isn’t just one factor that is responsible. I feel Virat is not the only one who is responsible for RCB not winning.
Do you think there is a bias when it comes to appointing overseas coaches ahead of Indian coaches in the IPL?
I don’t know if bias is the right word. But I would definitely like to see more Indian coaches taking the main head coach job and maybe director of cricket job. We are playing a league where it is mostly about Indian players. If you look at teams like Chennai or Mumbai they have core Indian players. Even their coaching staff, someone is at the helm is an Indian. Mumbai has Zaheer Khan, Chennai Super Kings they have Stephen Fleming – he is a fantastic coach, he is a proven coach – but you know MS Dhoni is the one who runs the show. If you look at Sunrisers, they have VVS Laxman. These are the successful franchises. I would definitely like to see more Indian coaches taking the job of the highest post, not just assistant coaches. To understand the Indian culture, to understand the Indian players is huge. That’s where I thought our coaches can play a big role and there is no shortage. There are so many brilliant Indian coaches, who have been around, have gone out and coached in CPL or Bangladesh Premier League or other national sides as well. I don’t think there is any shortage. It’s just about giving them that opportunity.
What is your take on Devdutt Padikkal’s game?
I think he is brilliant. I thought he batted brilliantly in IPL. He has had a great domestic season. But to transfer the same kind of performance into IPL, against quality international bowling, he has done brilliantly. I have told him, he has great future ahead of him and he is a great kid as well.
He works hard at his game, he trains hard. I surely do feel that he has a great future ahead of him.
Who do you think was the most impressive Indian wicketkeeper from IPL 2020?
There weren’t many Indian wicketkeepers keeping. DK (Dinesh Karthik), Dhoni, (Wriddhiman) Saha kept in a few games and KL (Rahul) of course. Rishabh’s (Pant) there. I would like to see Ishan Kishan keep in the IPL. He batted brilliantly, I would like to see him ‘keeping if at all there is an opportunity. I feel he has a great future. Sanju (Samson) has been brilliant. Everyone knows Rishabh didn’t have a brilliant IPL season, but I feel he has got a lot of talent and flair about his game. Just one bad season doesn’t make him a bad player. I’m sure he’ll come back. I think India’s cupboard of wicketkeepers is quite full with a lot of talented players. It will just be a matter of who gets the opportunity and who makes sure that he uses it.
What will you tell Pant if he has to get rid of the Dhoni comparison every time he takes field?
Just not read about what anyone is saying. Just be what you are. You are there because you are very talented, you know what you can do. So, just be out there and back yourself, trust yourself. Work hard and everyone will talk about how good Rishabh Pant is and no one will talk about you have to be like MS Dhoni.
Do you find it weird that Pant is considered as a Test wicketkeeper and not a white-ball wicketkeeper?
He had his opportunities in one-day and T20 cricket. So, I don’t see anything strange in him not being included in one-day or T20 format. KL was India’s first-choice wicketkeeper since last six or eight months. So, nothing strange in it. Sanju Samson was always knocking on the door of Rishabh Pant because of how well he was performing in IPL and domestic games. Sanju getting the nod ahead of Rishabh – because before IPL I think it was a close call – in white-ball cricket is fair because he has had a better IPL. I don’t find Pant’s selection in Test cricket strange because he’s someone who scored two hundreds overseas, he had done well in Australia last season and he has done well in most difficult conditions overseas.
Your first ‘keeper is Saha and you need someone young and I don’t think Rishabh Pant had done anything bad to be dropped from the Test side. So, I don’t think it is a strange selection.
On an important tour like Australia, how would you address the Saha vs Pant situation?
I have always maintained that Saha is your best wicketkeeper-batsman in Test cricket. There is no comparison with anyone, as long as he is fit. As long as he is there, he should be keeping for India in Test cricket – whether you are playing abroad or India – Saha is your guy as long as he is fit.
Many people are of the opinion that KL Rahul should be made India’s wicketkeeper across formats. What is your take?
That’s a tough call. KL’s glovework is fantastic, there is no doubt about it. Test cricket is completely different. You have got to start ‘keeping in four-day cricket first. It’s not the easiest thing to do. I would give it a long thought before thinking that KL could do the job in all formats. But one-day, T20, definitely KL.
With the emergence of so many young wicketkeepers, where does that put senior pros like you and Dinesh Karthik in the scheme of things?
I can’t speak for what DK must be thinking but from my personal point of view, I was looking forward to a good IPL this season. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a game. I would still like to keep playing, I believe that there is lot of cricket left in me. I’m quite fit enough to play a lot of cricket and hopefully one more opportunity and then you never know. We’ve never given up. You never know what lies ahead. If some better opportunity comes of playing cricket or in terms of doing anything else, all the doors are open.