Life ban on Smith and Warner will be too harsh, says Ashish Nehra
"I see only two buttons on my phone - green and red. I just recently learned how to use WhatsApp!"
Untroubled by the changing times and the invasion of social media, former India pacer Ashish Nehra likes to live life at his own sweet tempo. Ever-so-nonchalant, the 38-year-old, Royal Challengers Bangalore's bowling coach for IPL 2018, was at his candid best during an event in New Delhi.
He spoke to the media on varying topics, ranging from his new role for the T20 franchise to the recent Sandpaper saga that has taken the cricketing world by storm.
Here are the excerpts:
On the Cameron Bancroft-Steven Smith ball-tampering saga
Everyone has their own views. If someone has done wrong, the ICC is there to penalise them, and they have done it already. They have made a mistake, and I give credit to Steve Smith for having accepted the folly.
This is not the first time it is happening. The kind of players that Smith and David Warner have been for Australia, it'll be very sad if their respective IPL sides lose them.
We should keep all these things aside, it is up to the Sunrisers and Rajasthan Royals, but I will be really sad and it will be really harsh on them if they don't play the IPL, especially because they have accepted their mistake. He [Smith] has relinquished captaincy, and the incident shouldn't be dragged further.
A life ban on Smith and Warner will be extremely harsh, not just for them, but for any player who has admitted to ball-tampering.
With the game so heavily loaded in favour of the batsmen, do you think changing the condition of the ball is an art and should be looked at differently?
It is an art, but it isn't allowed (*chuckles*). Even stealing is an art, it doesn't mean thieves who steal well don't get jailed!
It is not always in the batsman's favour. If you are highly skilled, you will definitely fare well, but the pitch has a very important role to play in the game, unlike, say, F1 and basketball (sic).
Even when it comes to reverse swing, you don't need to always prepare the ball in a certain way. SG balls reverse naturally; at the Feroz Shah Kotla, the ball gets 'prepared' for reverse swinging as early as the 10th over.
Steven Smith himself admitted that he was frustrated. He wouldn't have done the same in Australia, he would have definitely devised a way to get the batsmen out there. If you can prepare the ball in a legal way, go ahead and do it!
You have played against Australian players ranging from Steve Waugh to Steven Smith. The current team have received a lot of flak for their recent behaviour. What difference do you see in the current lot from their esteemed predecessors?
Australia have always had a trend of playing 'hard' cricket. If they are doing things within the limits set by the ICC, it's all well and good. Personally, sledging isn't about abusing, it's about performing under extreme pressure.
You can't question someone's nature. MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli both performed as captain, despite being completely different. Kohli is very animated - more than a 100% - and that is more important. As long as you are doing things within the set limits, there is no problem.
Players like Steve Smith and David Warner aren't just attacking verbally, everyone has seen them play.
You said that the playing and captaincy styles of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are very different. As a coach, will you stop Kohli from sledging while representing RCB?
Do you think he'll stop if I ask him to not sledge? (*laughs*)
The way Kohli plays, that is completely his nature. I won't ask him to change it, and I shouldn't. You have seen the kind of performances he has given.
If he was doing something wrong, the ICC would have banned him every other game. Nothing like that has happened.
Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid were very different. If they are playing in their own way, without crossing the lines set by ICC, everything is fair.
How, as a bowling coach, will you help correct RCB's perennial bowling woes?
We have had players like Mitchell Starc before, and someone like Yuzvendra Chahal across seasons. The thing is, we have had three-four main bowlers over the years, but not a complete unit. Mumbai and Bangalore are two grounds which are different for the bowlers, but if you bowl well, you will get results.
All teams are evenly balanced this time, and one of them is RCB. I hope that I can add something to it and ensure that the current lot fares better than in previous seasons.
Is there a possibility of RCB fielding the 'dream' opening combination of Brendon McCullum and Virat Kohli?
Only time will tell. We'll think about the batting order later based on the pitch and the playing XI, the format is such, even though 70-80% of the batting order is already set. In Tests, you can still plan things like this because you know who's going to open beforehand.
What kind of coach will you be - will you be a hard taskmaster or will you carry your carefree attitude in the dugout?
Everyone has a different way of dealing with things. Virender Sehwag's ways will be different from mine, but we'll stay true to that.
Despite being a coach, I won't change as a person.
A coach is required when the team is not performing well. When you play well, everyone is behind you. If a bowler has given 40-50 runs in four overs, that's the day he needs my help.
My motive is to share my experience with the players, I have played 10 years of IPL and know it is important to read the situation. The players will have to, no doubt, use their brains on the field themselves, and learn from their experiences.
Someone like Washington Sundar is so young but is doing so well. You need to give players a certain amount of freedom.
The next two months will be mentally taxing for me. The franchise has big names like Kohli and AB de Villiers, hopefully, the rest of the lot can learn from them as well, because we have to play with the same players for three years.
What has been the reason that a team like RCB, despite having several big names in the past, has failed to win the title even once?
The main thing is to play good cricket throughout the length of the tournament - the side has played the finals three times, including the recent one against SRH, when I was there (in 2016).
It is important that the batting and bowling click together, and the difference this time is the bowling. We have a team that can play well both at home and away.
In Moeen Ali, we have an overseas spinner who can also open the bowling if required, Chris Woakes can bat at No.6 and No.7, bowl with both the old and new ball. We have two Indian spinners in Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal as well, who can bowl in the powerplays.
We also have Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj to complete the line-up.
The Chennai Super Kings, your previous franchise, are making a comeback. What are your views on that?
CSK, including big names like MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina, have been fantastic for the IPL itself. I have been a part of the franchise for three years myself, and they have been the most successful team in the tournament.
I am happy to see both CSK and the Rajasthan Royals, with the latter bringing in Shane Warne as their mentor, who did so well with them in the first edition. The IPL had been missing the yellow jersey and the tournament will be more enjoyable now.
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