The Delhi Capitals’ coach hopes that has changed “because if we can get the best out of him, he could be a superstar player”
Ricky Ponting has seen Prithvi Shaw from close quarters for nearly three years now, ever since his appointment as coach of the Delhi Capitals (then Delhi Daredevils) in 2018. He has seen Shaw’s prodigious abilities in IPL 2019, his poor batting rhythm in IPL 2020 and his struggle against the new ball in Tests in Australia last December. And Ponting’s verdict is out. Shaw has the abilities to be a “superstar player”, but for him to achieve that, Ponting believes, the young Indian batsman needs to change his approach to the game.
Ponting, however, believes Shaw might have already changed, having recently amassed 827 runs in eight matches in the 2020-21 Vijay Hazare Trophy, India’s domestic 50-over competition, but interactions with the Indian opener during IPL 2020 had left him confused.
“I’ve had some really interesting chats with him through last year’s IPL, just trying to break him down, trying to find out exactly what was the right way to coach him and how I was going to get the best out of him,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“He had an interesting theory on his batting last year. When he’s not scoring runs, he won’t bat, and when he is scoring runs, he wants to keep batting all the time. He had four or five games where he made under 10 and I’m telling him, ‘We have to go to the nets and work out [what’s wrong]’, and he looked me in the eye and said, ‘No, I’m not batting today’. I couldn’t really work that out.
“He might have changed. I know he’s done a lot of work over the last few months, that theory that he had might have changed, and hopefully, it has, because if we can get the best out of him, he could be a superstar player.”
Ponting said that during IPL 2020, he had let Shaw know that he disagreed with his philosophy about practice. Shaw – who started the tournament as the Capitals’ incumbent opener – averaged 17.53 in 13 innings last season and eventually lost his place in the XI due to poor form.
“I was going pretty hard at him,” Ponting said. “I was basically telling him, ‘Mate you’ve got to get in the nets. Whatever you think you’re working on, is not working for you.’
“It’s my job as a coach to challenge someone’s preparation if they’re not getting results. So I challenged him and he stuck to his word and he didn’t practice much at all towards the back-end of the tournament, and didn’t get many runs towards the back-end of the tournament either.”
Ponting, however, believes that Shaw’s form coming into the tournament, having averaged 165.40 at a strike rate of 138.29 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, is perfect for the Capitals because it gives the side a better balance. Talking beyond the IPL, Ponting said that a successful Shaw makes the Indian international team stronger too.
“Maybe [his training habits] have changed for the better, because [his success] won’t just be for the Delhi Capitals, I’m sure you’ll see him play a lot of cricket for India as well in the coming years,” Ponting said. “He’s diminutive, in the Tendulkar sort of mould but hits the ball incredibly powerfully off the front and back foot, and plays spin really well.
“If we can get him to take that form that he’s just shown into the IPL, it just makes the balance on our Delhi Capital side so good. If [the penny] does drop – I’m not sure I’ve seen many more talented players than him in my whole time of playing the game.”