Mumbai’s batting prodigyPrithvi Shawrecently underwent a counselling session withSachin Tendulkarat the latter’s Bandra residence to help regain the focus that catapulted the 19-year-old into Team India last October. Shaw is hailed as the brightest batting talent to emerge in internationalcricketin the last 10 years, so much so that he was an automatic choice for the opening batsman’s slot for the tour to Australia. A freak ankle injury, however, ensured he didn’t play a single match in Australia, but something worse occurred alongside.
Even as Virat Kohli’s team went on to win a Test series in Australia for the first time, there were whispers of the young batting sensation not doing enough to regain full fitness. Such talks turned shriller when Shaw returned home after the second Test in Australia. Apart from talks of him not paying attention to fitness, rumours started doing the rounds about the young man picking up certain habits that are frowned upon.
While none of this may find a mention in the official report that the team manager submits to the BCCI after every series, Mirror has learnt that Shaw was given a pep talk by the senior teammates in Australia itself, emphasising on the need to handle the razzmatazz that comes along with the fame of international cricket.
Having seen many prodigies waste their talent and not finishing with careers they ought to have carved out, those close to Shaw decided he must have a session with Tendulkar, himself a teenaged international cricketer who did not step out of line even once in his 22-year career.
Considered an epitome of correct public behaviour and staying focussed on the job, even in the face of extreme crisis such as the match-fixing controversy and a spat with coach Greg Chappell, Tendulkar spoke to Shaw on the challenges modern cricketers face, how best to deal with them, and the need to block everything out to focus on the job.
The intervention of Tendulkar could turn out to be the best thing to have happened to Shaw, who has the potential to lead the Indian batting once the current stalwarts retire. Indian cricket itself has many examples of unfulfilled promise. Mumbai’s own Vinod Kambli, Karnataka’s wicket-keeper batsman Sadanand Vishwanath, the prodigious left-arm spinner Maninder Singh, and the highly rated leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan… there’s a could-have-been story alongside every success saga.
While Tendulkar didn’t want to comment on the session, Shaw’s father Pankaj, who raised the boy single-handedly after his wife died when Shaw was just four years old, preferred not to discuss his son’s career. When asked about the status of his injury, he simply said, “You should be knowing why he is not playing.”
The BCCI, meanwhile, is hoping for a quick turnaround in Shaw’s fortunes as he is undoubtedly a find of the decade. Such confidence stems from Shaw’s performance in his debut Test series, against West Indies at home, where he blasted a hundred and a half-century to finish with an average of 118.50. Now, he is not even a part of the India A team. The Board sources said that he has started batting at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore, and with India’s next Test series six months away, there’s every chance the boy will come back stronger.
While there is no news of Shaw playing in the Indian Premier League this season, he is scheduled to attend an official sponsor event at Hyderabad next month.