Interview with R.J.Shastri (by Joseph Hoover - Deccan Herald) (Excerpts)

Q. It must have been a great feeling to be chosen as the Champion of Champions ? A. Surely, I was elated. It was a great honour.

Q. How does it feel now, especially when you have been ignored by the National Selection Committee ? A. I wouldn't say that I have been left in the lurch. I am recovering from two serious injuries - a ligament tear and a cartilage damage on the right knee. Thus, without me being fit, there was no way the selectors could pick me.

Q. When did the injury occur ? A. It happened during my double hundred against Australia at Sydney. I was in peak form at that moment. From January to September 1993 there was absolutely no cricket for me. Naturally, I missed the game. And when I returned to competitive cricket, I felt rusty.

Q. I must have been depressing ? How did you take it ? A. I must admit it was frustrating. I was, however, glad that the injury did not occur much earlier than it did in my career. Had it been so, it wouldn't have been possible for me to achieve so much.

Q. Have you recovered from the surgeries ? A. I am really happy that I have recovered fully. I have lasted the whole domestic season (1993-94). That gives me confidence and I think I am now good enough to compete for a spot in the national side. I will try harder to regain my place. I am glad that my knees have held together. There have been many other cricketers whose careers were cut short due to injuries. Take the case of Jeff Thomson. He injured his shoulder while taking a catch and could never return to bowl again.

Q. Do you, in retrospect, feel that you shouldn't have returned to Australia after the orthopaedic surgery ? A. I went back too soon. Perhaps, had I not gone, my second injury would not have occured. I regret it now. Had I taken time out, I could have recovered from the first injury.

Q. Isn't it disappointing being out of the national side ? A. Honestly, I am not worried of not being in the Indian squad. Getting back one's place depends on one's own ability and mental toughness. I believe in myself and the rest should not be a problem. Nevertheless, I am happy that I have gone through the current season without further damage to my knees.

Q. How have you shaped up over the season ? A. My bowling form has not been satisfying, I need to work hard in that area. As far as batting is concerned, I know I can always do well. I have scored around 800 runs this season.

Q. On your comeback, do you want yourself to be considered as a specialist batsman or allrounder ? A. I want to comeback as an allrounder because I believe I am capable of doing both. I have tonnes of confidence in my batting. But if I turn out good performances with the ball, it should motivate me. I am confident of realising my potential.

Q. You were captaincy material at one stage of your career. Everyone spoke so much about your astute captaincy. Suddenly this slump. How would you explain it ? A. Well, things don't remain the same forever. Times change. The injury has turned the table around. What can one do with an injury. You miss out on a lot of things.

Q. Which has been your best innings ? A. The ton (107) against the mighty West Indies at Barbados in 1989.

Q. Why do you rate it so high amongst the other knocks, especially your 206 against the Aussies ? A. The situation was bad. We were tottering at 60 for six when I stood up against the pace battery. Moreover, the quality of the attack - Malcom Marshall, Ian Bishop, Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh - was fantastic.

Q. How do you see your future ? A. I won't be upset if I don't make it to the Indian squad. I will not be frustrated either. All I want to do is realise my potential as an all-rounder. If I can gain satisfaction from my performance and contribute to whichever team I am picked for, I will be happy and contented man. At the moment my aim is to bowl well. I believe in myslef. If I train hard and dame luck smiles upon me things will be very different. My cricket is all about determination. I play hard and I give no quarters or ask for any. As long as I believe in my ability, I will never give up.