How do you feel? Do you think the captaincy came at the right time?
Great. I think it has come at the right time.
You are inheriting a very weak team. Are you intimidated?
You have to make good with what you have. You have to have confidence in your guys.
Any cricketing blueprint you would like to implement?
Improve batting, bowling and fielding. Make life tough for the opposition.
Azhar had a laid-back attitude to captaincy. You are very much there…
I don’t agree with that. Azhar wasn’t laid- back. He did the right things. Only they didn’t happen to click.
Do you think captaincy is going to have an impact on your batting?
I don’t think so. It didn’t affect me when I started captaining Bombay. The extra responsibility should make me perform better.
Do you think the captain should have more say in selection?
Definitely. But today we had a very healthy meeting. They agreed to everything I suggested and I agreed to everything they suggested.
What were the suggestions?
I wouldn’t like to go into that.
Are you comfortable with Azhar continuing in the team?
Definitely. I have no problems at all. In fact, he called me yesterday after I was announced team captain and it was very touching for me. Very touching. He made it clear he would back me. That his good wishes were always there for me.
What do you think are the essentials of good captaincy?
One has to understand the team thoroughly to get the best out of the players. A few players respond well under pressure. Some don’t. The timing of the decisions you take on the field have to be absolutely right.
The pull shot has been giving you some problems lately.
I can’t do away with them. It’s one of my scoring shots. On the recent tour I miscued just four times.
You seem to have some kind of jinx with Fannie De Villiers. In South Africa in ’92 and recently at Sharjah.
I don’t think so. If you check statistics all top batsman face it. I also got a 100 against him. But people forget that.
Many people think you still haven’t realised your full potential.
There’s scope for improvement. I want to make my technique more solid. But basically, I just want to enjoy my game. I don’t want it to be torture. I like to play my natural game and I think I haven’t yet become as natural as I would like to.
You still haven’t played in the West Indies which is probably the ultimate test for a batsman. Do you look forward to doing that?
Very much so.
Do you think it’s fair to compare batsmen in different eras? Many great batsmen played when the LBW rule hadn’t come into place but you have the helmet now and they didn’t.
I don’t think it’s fair to compare. They didn’t wear the helmet because they didn’t have any option. They were comfortable playing without it after a while. Maybe 20 years from now when the game gets tougher you might have full body protection.
Do you think current rules are loaded in favour of batsmen and something needs to be done to bring the bowlers back in the game?
I don’t think so. I think the rules are fair. But, frankly I haven’t given it a thought.
Do you think a sports psychologist should accompany the team?
No, I don’t think so. You should just learn to play to your strengths.
Why? It’s a standard practice.
That’s the only thing I hate about you guys. We don’t have to do everything people elsewhere do. Our players are mature enough. They know what’s to be done.
How many fan letters do you receive in a month?
Many. Sometimes, it crosses three digits. I try my level best to answer. In envelopes.
Did you catch any action at Atlanta?
No. I just followed the fate of the Indian contingent. Leander’s performance was great. I felt very happy for him. I think a lot more is going to come from him.
Contemporary favourites in cricket?
Brian Lara, Shane Warne and Mark Waugh.
Did they call to congratulate you?