Vikram Rathour’s appointment as India’s new batting coach is a good move for Indian cricket, particularly because of his inter-personal skills, players who have worked under him believe.
Rathour, who played six Tests and seven ODIs for India between 1996 and 1997 and has been a part of the selection panel in the past, also had coaching stints with Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in India’s domestic circuit, and a spell with Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. He has himself identified man-management as the key aspect of his coaching style, telling bcci.tv: “I was a good man-manager and during the last stage of my playing career, I was doing a lot of things that coaches normally do. At this level, man-management is the key. How you support them, how you look after them in tough times has been my strength.”
Mandeep Singh, who worked with Rathour at Punjab and at Kings XI, said the Indian team would be in great hands with him coming on board. “Not just cricket, but in general I have learned many things from him,” Mandeep told ESPNcricinfo. “Somehow, he will make you feel good. He’s so positive and optimistic.
“For example, let’s say I have not been selected in some team, so he’ll sit down and ask me, ‘Okay how many runs did you make last season?’ I’ll tell him I made 600 runs, so he’ll say, ‘Koi nahin [Doesn’t matter], make 800 runs next time, make 1000 runs.’ He won’t let you crib, he’ll just focus on how to get better.
“I don’t talk about my batting with anyone else, just him. If someone else tells me something and I feel it’s good advice, I’ll still discuss it with him. I think it’s great for the Indian team, they’ve got a very solid guy. I haven’t seen anyone else having the man-management skills he has. I don’t think anyone he has worked with would ever have a negative word to say about him.”
Mandeep offered an example of Rathour’s coaching style. “When he was the Punjab coach, we were playing against Saurashtra in Mohali. We won the toss and chose to bowl and they made 550 runs (542) and then bowled us out 250-odd (278) in the first innings and 100-odd (120) in the second innings. I mean it was a bad defeat. Generally, if you lose so badly in a home match when you have a good team, coaches give you a talking to.
“But he said, ‘Okay, what’s happened has happened, so now I’ll give you guys a punishment’. Everyone was nervous. But the punishment turned was that he told each of us to wear one of the official jerseys left over from the World Cup that happened that year, which were an awful orange-yellow colour mix, and come out for dinner together. Nobody talked cricket. The next day was given off, and then after that in practice, the next day he spoke about what went wrong and what didn’t.
“I have seen the biggest coaches get very upset and angry after these kind of defeats. But he always stays cool. Even if he gets angry – I mean he doesn’t actually get angry – but if he has to say something, his style is such that you’ll never take it to heart. Instead, you get motivated to do better.”
“He shows you a big vision, and says you must not think small,” Kalsi said. “I bat at No. 4 (for Himachal), so he tells me, ‘Your competition should be with Virat Kohli, who bats at No. 4 for India. Don’t think that you are competing with other No. 4 batsmen in domestic cricket. You have to think about the next level.’ He keeps pushing you towards bigger goals.”