Ravi Shastri walks into the Indian dressing room. India’s World Cup squad is sitting there; a few of them more than a bit nervous about the pep talk to come and the heads that shall roll, financially committed as many are to playing the game till they are 37.
Ravi Shastri: “Now look here boys. I am a no-nonsense guy and will cut straight to the chase. Many of you may be asking why I have been chosen to be coach. After all, I was an unexceptional batsman, a mediocre bowler and while fielding would go down on my knees and wait for the ball to roll into my hands.
However there is one thing I was the undisputed king of, and still am.
That being the art of seduction. The art of the fling.
That art is what, my dear boys, I, Shastri or “Sahasra Stri” (the one with thousand women), the king of the Mumbai party circuit, have come to teach you.
And lest I forget, if there are any doubts about my legendary chick-magnetness, let me remind you that I am the only Indian cricketer to have had a movie named after him (Still from movie: Ravi Shastri to the top left)”.
Dravid: “Wait, wait. Look here Mr. Shastri. We are cricketers. Many of us are married men with kids or in committed relationships. We need to learn fielding and perhaps all other basic skills. Sure. But the art of seduction–why? What does it have to do with cricket?”
Shastri: “This is precisely the wrong mindset that has led to the atrophy of this once great team. Let us take Sachin here. When he came as a young kid, I think it was Bishan Singh Bedi who said that the older women all wanted Sachin Tendulkar. When he said “wanted”, he meant “wanted”. And Sachin knew it. He was cute, sexy, dashing and debonair. He batted like a hormonally charged kid, caring not for bowler or pitch.
Now look at the same man. Married with two kids. When he goes out to bat, he looks like a dad going to pay his son’s fees at school. Careworn and deliberate and mostly ineffective. Why? Because somewhere down the line, that super-achieving stud became a family-man taking all the cares of the world on his shoulders, only thinking about the next paycheck.
Sachin, unless you use it to pick up girls what good is your beloved Ferrari? Even an Ambassador with AC will get you from one point to another.
Remember that the main action in a sports car happens in the back seat.”
Shastri: “That’s why I am here. I am going to teach you to live a little. Party again. Little unofficial matches here and there…nudge nudge wink wink…a little 20-20 ehhhh? And maybe those thundering drives through cover might just come back.”
Now Shastri moved to where Sourav Ganguly was sitting.
Shastri: “Dada, when was the last time…”
Ganguly: “Yes I know. I know. I have not made a century against decent opposition for a few years. That’s your point is it not? I am aware of the fact that you have always, ever since I came to the Indian side in 96, called me a regional politics selection….
Shastri smiled :” See this is the problem with you. I did not even finish the sentence. When was the last time you had an extra-marital dear Dada?”
Ganguly: (flustered) I do not know what you are talking about….emm….whatever….
Shastri: “2002. Yes that was when the affair with weighty Southie actresses ended and the crouching tiger metamorphosed into a paw-licking pussycat. Remember when you came into cricket, you were having a forbidden romance with Dona…the daughter of your family’s arch enemy. There was spice and excitement in your life. Your passion found outlet in the swinging of your bat, and spinners all over the world felt the rumblings of the volcano inside.
Then there was the affair with Nagma and at least one more reported dalliance. Such were the stirrings in your soul at that time that you took off your shirt publicly, so ready were you to leap into action at any provocation.
And now? When the ball comes out of the bowler’s hand, I can detect the hesitancy —on one hand there is that basic instinct that tells you to dance down the track, abandoning all prudence, and then there is that other part which, afraid that you will lose your place in the side, keeps you back. Just like the dilemma of the married man when a beautiful woman walks past. Should I stare or look away? He usually does a little of both and this ends up being an embarrassment for all concerned. Kind of like your aborted swing which ended up in Murali’s hands in the Sri Lanka match: the roaring, unrepentant tiger that you used to be would have sent that into the stratosphere.”
Sehwag: “Sirr…mera kya hoga?”
Shastri: “Sorry Veeru. You are beyond help. All your mother’s halwa has accumulated here in your tummy. To top it of, you have lost all hair. It’s tough for even me to teach you any tricks….very sorry to have to tell you this.”
Shastri: (Turning to Dravid): “You sir. Girls died and still die for you. Your posters have adorned many pink walls while you concentrated on being the Wall. Remember the ad you did many years ago: surrounded by many models, taking photographs. Recreate that scene with real ladies: show the world that even the Wall can have a ball.”
Shastri (to Yuvi): “I agree with Chappell when he said that maybe you are too talented for your own good. You are a really handsome dude. You are young. You should be playing the field. And what do I hear? You were pressurizing Kim Sharma for marriage and that it was she (wise lady) who was not ready for commitment. You? Asking for commitment? What are you maann?”
Shastri: “Now this Dhoni kid. I am telling you. He is the real deal. Not even two years and he has already been linked with Tanusree Dutt and Koena Mitra. And the sixes this boy hits: you know which part of himself that is coming from.
Bhajji. Do you realize why you no longer get wickets? If you use the “doosra” every ball, then there is no variety: it is like getting committed to your “doosra” girl-friend. You need, my young man, a very hush-hush “teesra” and a “chautha” —-understand?
I can go on forever but the thing is I need to have individual coaching sessions with all of you. Yes you Sreesanth, I like the way you move your hips. Just wanted to tell you that. And Pathan. Do it faster. Really. Right now, your bowling speed is close to what a Frenchman would say is ideal for foreplay. Not for taking out the middle stump.”
“Realize this all of you. When I see India on the field, I see a bunch of care-worn 9-to-5-ers walking out with the cheerfulness of one approaching a loan officer for a second mortgage or going to the train station to receive his mother-in-law. And then I see the Bangladesh team –taking the field with all the eagerness of men on forbidden, impulsive journeys caring not whether their path ends in fulfilment or disaster, secure in the knowledge that the magic that happens tonight, they shall carry with them. Forever.
Go out men. The grass is green.
Spread the joy.
And, most importantly, get some.”