Hrishikesh Kanitkar’s sense of calm is unmistakable. “I hate it when my players show dissent or anger on the field over an incident, a poor decision or a catch put down. The focus can be lost. The opposition will see this as an opportunity,” the former India cricketer said in a conversation with The Hindu here on Thursday.
Kanitkar’s appointment as the new Tamil Nadu Ranji coach will be formally announced soon. This is a done deal.
Kanitkar — in the City to meet Tamil Nadu Cricket Association officials — shared his vision for the State team that last won the Ranji Trophy way back in 1988. “To play with complete togetherness, enjoy what they are doing and look at the process than be weighed down mentally by thinking constantly about results… if you do things right, the results will come.”
Asked about Tamil Nadu’s lack of success in the Ranji Trophy — the team failed to qualify for the knockout stage last season — he replied, “From what I have seen, it is the failure to win key moments in a match. It could be not losing a wicket with bat during a phase or putting that extra effort to achieve a breakthrough with the ball.”
Did Tamil Nadu lack mental toughness in crunch situations? “The team needs to win key moments of a match. For this, Tamil Nadu requires presence of mind, the ability to seize the initiative. Then the killer instinct will come automatically. There is plenty of ability in the side,” he said.
Coaching, he said, was about man-management.
“If you respect each other, if you want to play for a common goal, then you have to accept the other players as they are and somehow find a way to work together.
“One of the reasons I captained Rajasthan to two Ranji triumphs was because I told the players not to be afraid of making mistakes. Only if you realise that cricket is a game of mistakes and you need to learn from them, can you play fearless cricket.”
On the possibility of L. Balaji and S. Badrinath being recruited as player-cum-bowling and batting coaches, Kanitkar said: “They have been quality cricketers. I have an open mind on the issue.”
He signed off saying, “it will be an honour to coach Tamil Nadu, a State with such a rich cricketing history.”