Indian cricket is extremely competitive in nature, but every year, there are so many players who emerge as forerunners. Today we had the opportunity to interact with Vidyut Shiv, a part of the 2000 Under – 19 World Cup Squad, a former India A and IPL player, and now a coach mentoring youngsters who wish to take up the game. From interesting anecdotes to time during this pandemic, here’s what he shared with us.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Vidyut and I was born to a cricketing family and my father was a first class cricketer – he played first class cricket for Tamil Nadu. My uncle was also a first class cricketer who played for Hyderabad, another uncle played for Mysore and Karnataka, so cricket has been in my blood for a very long time and that’s why I obviously took up the sport.
I started playing junior cricket for Tamil Nadu for a very young age and made my first class debut at 16. I played 10 years of first class cricket for Tamil Nadu, Goa and even one season for Haryana. I played for India Under 19, India A and even for the Chennai Super Kings in the first three years. My career had it’s own highs and lows, and I think it has made me a better coach today. I got into coaching at a very young age and retired at the age of thirty – one.
I’ve coached many state teams – Tamil Nadu at the junior level, Karnataka Premier League, Tamil Nadu premier league etc.
2. Being from a cricketing background yourself, how did your initial journey into the game develop?
Obviously my dad played and there were a lot of cricket discussions at home. I was always fascinated by the game, and I used to go and watch all my father’s games. I really loved it and was never forced to take up the game. Luckily, I did well at a young age because nowadays there’s a lot of money in cricket but that time there was nothing.
Lots of cricketers had to give up cricket for education, but nowadays the financial state of cricket is good and even if you play at the state level, you’ll be financially well – off. It was not like that in those days but I’m happy I took the decision.
3. How was the experience throughout the 2000 Under 19 World Cup, and the final win?
It was fantastic, great to be part of that team. I didn’t get to play much, but it was great being part of the squad. We played in Sri Lanka, and it was still playing the red ball in whites. People like Mohammad Kaif led the side, we had Yuvraj Singh, RS Sodhi and five – six people who went on to play for India, and a lot of people played for India A and in the IPL.
It was excellent, being my first major event. Our coach was Roger Binny, and he kept things very simple. We trained very hard and the conditions suited us and I think we played really good cricket.
It was really special, as there were some fantastic players in the World Cup. Australia had Micheal Clarke, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, England had Ian Bell, South Africa had Graeme Smith and it was perhaps one of the strongest world cups in terms of competition. It was a great learning experience, and it actually turned me from a boy into a man.
4. Apart from the World Cup win, which cricketing memory remains dearest to your heart?
I think next year when I played for India Under 19 against England at the Wankhede which was led by Ian Bell, that test match was something really special for me.
I remember going out on the last day of the test match, and they were 160/1. It was a drowned match, but in the last session I went in and bowled about 10 overs for 2 runs and managed to get 7 wickets. We won the game after that and I got 8 for 38 in that second innings.
It was really special because everything just went my way and I bowled a spell after which we managed to win the match for my country.
A very interesting incident also took place on the day before the test match. I just wrote on a piece of paper that I would get 5 wickets and win the game for my country. I had a great feeling about myself, I never knew I’d get 8 wickets, so it was really special.
That match while batting at no. 6 I also managed to hit a six off Monty Panesar that landed outside the Wankhede stadium, and it was special as he also mentioned it in his autobiography. All in all it was a great test match, and it made me believe that I do have something to offer to the game and I could take it up professionally.
5. You are also an IPL veteran. What do you think makes the IPL special? Is there a particular youngster you admire seeing play?
I think just the format! It’s like each World XI plays the World XI. Back when you think of Matthew Hayden and Andrew Flintoff playing for the same team, or even Virat and AB playing for the same team, that concept was just something amazing.
Moreover, the IPL has done some miraculous things for Indian cricket. It’s taken our cricket to a different league. Before in domestic leagues we were just playing bowlers bowling 125 – 130 kph but now suddenly you were playing bowlers bowling 145 – 150, so us doing well against them gave us the confidence that going on the World stage you could take on anybody. Our skill levels went up, our fitness levels shot up and in every aspect, be it commercially or financially or sport – wise , it has done great things for Indian cricket.
I was very lucky to be a part of it and share the dressing room with Raina, Dhoni, Hayden and Hussey and playing against the likes of Kallis, Warne, Graeme Smith will be something I’ll cherish for a long time.
I really like the way Shubhman Gill plays, and his style of playing is amazing. I worked with the Delhi Daredevils for a brief period, and I really like how Shreyas Iyer goes about his game, even Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw, and they are the people forming the future of Indian cricket.
6. What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received in your career?
I think there was an instance which I can never forget. I had the World record of being the only Number 11 batsman to score a first-class century against Delhi.
I was at the NCA at that time, and Rodney Marsh was the coach. He called the bowlers together and I was one that time and had a talk about how it was important for bowlers to go contribute with the bat. He said that anybody could do it and that there was one gentleman there by the name of Vidyut who scored a century at number 11. If he could do it, anybody could and I think that was very inspiring, coming from a legend, and it was great because it gave me the confidence to do well.
There was another great story when Stephen Fleming gave me some beautiful advice. The first IPL game I got out for 54 against Delhi Daredevils on a short ball by McGrath.
Myself and Fleming opened the innings and we had another game against Delhi. So what happened was that Fleming took me into the net and told me that McGrath was going to bowl short to me and he wanted me to practice the pull shot that particular way. He was a player at that time, not a coach but he bowled to me, made me play the shot and told me that McGrath was going to do that to me.
So the first two balls McGrath bowled bouncers and I pulled them for 4, and the best part was that Fleming was my partner and he had a smile on his face. So it was something really special and actually showed that why he was one of the best captains ever.
7. Can you tell us about the cricket ground in India you enjoyed playing at the most?
I really love the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai which is very special to me and has a great atmosphere. I also obviously like the Chepauk stadium as I have been born and brought up here in Chennai and one stadium I really admire is the CCI stadium, the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai. The art and the history that that ground has is something unbelievable and if you are a cricket lover, you will just fall in love with it.
8. How are you spending your time in this period of quarantine? Is there a particular schedule you follow to keep fit?
First of all what’s happening is really sad, and it’s shocked the whole world.
I think the first few weeks were very difficult as I’m an outgoing person and spend a lot of my time doing coaching outdoors and to be stuck indoors was very difficult.
But I’m trying to look at the positive side of things and make it a point to work out everyday because you don’t want to sit at home at just eat and develop a lazy attitude. I’ve also been doing online coaching which has been keeping me going for 2 – 3 hours a day, but it’s obviously different from outside, so I hope all this gets over soon.
I think it has taught us a lot in life, about hygiene, about not abusing nature and it has been a tough lesson but we should look at the positive things and see how we can contribute to humanity.
9. What’s something that inspires you to do better each day?
I think just watching my children grow is something unbelievable. There’s so much to learn, how they are so happy with so little, how they wish to be around people they love, and how they react to situations with so much happiness.
Sometimes I complain and grumble but when I come back and see them being happy with just the smallest things and it makes me wonder when you have such lovely children, why should one complain?
I get inspired by making a difference in children’s lives and that’s what I want to do now. I think children need good teachers nowadays that there is so much competition so they need good mentors.
I love to mentor young children who wish to take up cricket professionally and yes, hopefully, I can make a difference.