By Rohit Bhandiye
Vinod Phadke, Manager of India’s U-19 World Cup winning team and President of Goa Cricket Association is the man in the hot seat. With him as the manager, India colts also won the U-19 Quadrangular tournament in Australia earlier in April and followed it up with the U-19 World Cup, last Sunday.
In an interview with The Navhind Times, Mr Phadke talks about the World Cup win, his rapport with the boys and the future of Goan Cricket.
You seem to be a lucky charm for India’s U-19 Cricket team. First, they won a Quadrangular series in April with you as a Manager and now the World Cup.
Yes... it seems so. Even in 2006, during India’s U-19 team tour of England I was the Manager when we won the three Test and One-Day series 1-0 and 3-0 respectively. Two Test matches were drawn. This World Cup win type moments come once in a life time. Nobody can forget that. These are one of the most defining moments in Indian Cricket history.
How was your rapport with the boys?
I was very friendly with the boys. I made it a point that discipline is maintained. When the boys came to know that I was the manager they were so happy. When I went to Bangalore 2 days before the departure, the boys told me that now you have come we will win the World Cup. Such was the confidence in the team. Because they knew that I will go to any extent to help them.
Even this time, the kit bags and bag packs were of different types. I co-ordinated with NCA (National Cricket Academy) and forced Nike to give kit bags of the same type. And, this was done within 2 days. Even the shirts were arranged for the boys. Also, the complaints for shorts were addressed. Other teams had discipline in their material. Also, I was strict during practice session. I ensured that proper dress-code is followed. Same type of T-Shirts and Trousers should be worn by the players.
What were you guys doing in free-time?
When we had 2 days of gap between the matches, we used to barbeque on the beach. We used to take material from the super-market and cook on the beach. Also, our Indian friends used to call us for dinner. Our team was like a family.
What was the strategy during finals, considering that Australia were the defending champions and also the hosts?
We were confident of winning. We had a good batting line-up, bowlers and fielders. The only worry was Unmukt Chand. He had not clicked in the previous matches. The day before the match I talked to Unmukt and told him that I want a century from him in the finals. Like in the quadrangular series where he had scored a century in the finals, he said whatever it is he will score a century. And, winning in Australia against Australia was great. Everyone was happy – the coach, players, support staff. After the win, I took the boys for a grand dinner in an Indian hotel.
Any standout performance from the tournament which you would like to mention.
Apart from Unmukt’s century in the finals, our bowlers bowled very well. When Sandeep Sharma took the first wicket in the finals when he clean bowled Peirson, it reminded me of the 1983 World Cup final when Balwinder Singh Sandhu clean bowled Gordon Greenidge. Even Harmeet Singh, Ravikant Singh bowled very well. The only worry was about the middle order. Aparajith Baba did very well and played the role of No.3 batsman to perfection.
There has been a controversy over Unmukt Chand’s attendance in his college – St. Stephen’s, Delhi. He has not been allowed to answer his exams and thereby denied a promotion to second semester of BA.
It’s very bad. These boys have spent the last one and half year in preparing for this tournament. They had played the Quadrangular series in Vizag, Quadrangular series in Australia, Asia Cup in Malaysia before this World Cup. You cannot make them study and play at the same time. How can you expect them to have a good attendance and play cricket for the country at the same time? It is ridiculous. They are World Champions and not some ordinary boys. And, Unmukt is a clever boy. He scored 80 % in his Class X and 74% in his Class XII board exams in spite of playing cricket.
There should be some exceptions made by the University in their rules. When you can make Sachin a doctorate, Harbhajan a Dy Sp. Then this is nothing. The central government should do something about this. These are exceptional cases.
Did you manage to interact with Greg Chappell, the Australian U-19 team coach?
I knew him from a long time. He is a nice guy, very much down to earth despite being a great player. I used to tell him "Greg, we will win". Then he used to say "Vinod, let’s see".
Was there some problem with the food served to the players?
If we go to Australia or any other European country, there they don’t use masala. Only boiled food is served. And the food is cold food not hot. Our senior team doesn’t have this problem when they tour abroad because they are such big stars that they have their own sources who supply them with good quality food. But, our junior team had this problem. They are not used to such kind of food. Also, some of the members were pure vegetarian. So, I have suggested BCCI that in future one cook should be sent with the Indian Junior team who will carry all the Indian masala and cook good Indian food for the boys. Also, after the practice session was over no food was served for the boys. Only water was provided. I used to buy bananas and sandwiches and give it to the boys.
How will your trip help Goan Cricket?
I have seen the boys are so hardworking and disciplined in their approach. Our Goan players, coaches and trainers should follow their example and learn from them. I have requested NCA (National Cricket Team) to have a high performance camp in the first week of October here at our premises in Porvorim. The entire support staff of U-19 team will be present for the camp. The camp will be for 8 days.
Dilip Sardesai and Paras Mhambrey are the only 2 players of Goan origin who have played for the Indian senior team. Why is it so?
Goa being a small state, we have less talent pool and resources. In other states which are very big in comparison to Goa in terms of size and population, there is tremendous competition between the boys to make it to the Indian squad. But, still Goa’s Anant Bhagwat, Saurabh Nadekar and Rahul Keni have played for the Indian U-19 team. Swapnil Asnodkar played for India A team. Shadab Jakati could have played for India’s A team. He was unlucky. He had an injury and was not considered during the selection trials.
What about the plans for GCA’s residential academy?
There are about 20 boys in GCA’s residential academy who were selected from different parts of Goa. All their expenses including the school expenses are borne by the GCA. They have also a tuition teacher for them. All these boys are in the age group of U-14 and U-16. There is one coach, physio trainer and an overall in-charge manager who is looking after this. These boys go to different schools in and around Porvorim like Vidya Prabodhini, People’s High School, Don Bosco. We will see their progress in a year’s time and those who are not improving will be told to leave and new boys will be taken. The total expenses for this is about Rs 20 lakh per annum.
What is the status of GCA’s own stadium at Tivim?
It is not yet done. The case is still going on in the court. Land will be finalised within next month. Once the land is finalised then the construction for the stadium will start. Everything will be ready within 2 years time. It will be about 45,000 – 50,000 capacity stadium.
Any IPL matches to be staged in Goa in the near future?
Until and unless we have our very own stadium no IPL matches will be held in Goa.
As a GCA President what is your vision?
In my tenure as a GCA Present for the next three years, my top priority would be the completion of the cricket stadium at Tivim, at least one Goan player should make it to India U-19 team and India A team.