Nothing special. I was in England playing for India A in the one-day matches. There the selectors put it in the back of my mind that I could get a call-up for the Tests. Wriddhi bhai [Saha] was injured, so they asked me to stay prepared and selected me for the four-day matches too.
It was the morning of our four-day match against England Lions. It was almost their main team. Alastair Cook, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope, Dawid Malan, they were all there. We were about to go out on the field - we had lost the toss and were fielding first. Just then Nannu pa [Sarandeep Singh, national selector] called me over. "Rishabh, come here for a minute." I went there. And he said, "You are selected." I said, "For what?" Maine kaha surety toh le loon." [I wanted to be sure before I let myself enjoy it.]
Always. Right from the start. Because at Sonnet Club [where Sinha coaches], merely an international player means nothing. He often says, "International player is nothing. Test player is the real player." It always stayed in my mind. I had played for India one year previously. But Tarak sir was like, "That's okay, that's no big deal. The day you play Test cricket, I will recognise you as a proper player." That's why after my mother, I called him up.
After a long time, he was happy that day. Generally he is very hard to please. Even if I score a hundred, he is never pleased. That was the day he was happy.
No. You face all these bowlers in the IPL. Domestic cricket has these same bowlers. Just that the ball moves a lot more in England. But that's okay, there's always a first time. But I can say that as a wicketkeeper, when I played India A matches and then against the Lions, I had a fair idea of what to expect. Also, these matches were played with the Dukes ball. And it is India A bowlers who go and bowl in Tests in the future. Unless you are a good bowler, you won't be in the India A side.
No. I didn't feel that, because if you see those byes, you will know whether 90% of those should be called byes or whatever…
Yes. People who saw the game live, England wicketkeeping coach Bruce French and Jos Buttler, both of them said they had never seen anyone keeping in England for the first time do so well. Yes, I conceded byes. Obviously it frustrated me. But if I am doing my best and I can't stop them, if the bowler himself is coming to apologise - I am conceding boundaries and he is saying sorry - then you feel…
That's the most difficult part. Especially in those conditions, and in your debut series. That pressure builds up in its own way, but as a wicketkeeper you must know this will go on. There will be byes, there will be catches that will go down, but what is important is what you do when the next chance arrives. Because there will always be a next catch. If you are not positive, if you are not in a good frame of mind, you can drop that next one too. To recover from your mistake, you have to stay positive. How you do it - as a player you should know that.
I always look at the positive side of things. Wicketkeeping is all about the feel. And I got a good feel about my wicketkeeping in England. So I didn't look too much at the scoreboard.
Yes, but what I saw was this: I was taking two-three steps, and then diving full length. If the ball goes away even after that, I wasn't that unhappy about it.
As a wicketkeeper, and as a youngster, if I don't learn, it will be very difficult. Always important to keep learning from your mistakes. I was analysing which balls I could have stopped, which I couldn't have.
All that comes natural to me.
There was never time to watch wrestling. Just watched cricket and played cricket. I did gymnastics for two-three years. This comes from there.
It is all natural. You have to keep improving, yes. Make little adjustments - where you stand, position of hands - but I didn't have to make any big changes.
I was nervous when I went out to bat. I was reminding myself to play according to the ball. I defended the first ball, but I saw what he [Adil Rashid] was trying to do. The second ball was a googly, and we Indian batsmen are good at reading spin. I read it from the hand, I felt like I could hit it, and I hit it.
Formats make all the difference. If you are playing days cricket and get out trying to hit a six, everybody knows and says it is irresponsible. But when it comes off, nobody says anything. The percentage is what matters. If you are getting out in ten matches but are getting the results in nine of them, that is important. If my percentage of results is high, I only focus on my process. And if something is working for me, it might not work for someone else. Similarly if something is working for someone else, it might not always help me.
Everything. Right from childhood. It feels like all my life I have played only cricket. By now, at least this much I know: how to play in what situation. Sometimes you have to curb your instincts, that is also important. At the end of the day, you have to score runs. Can't play just to survive.
Yes, and at that time you have two options: I can come back not out or I can go for the team goals. Everybody likes personal glory to an extent but team goals are always more important.
During that hundred in England [at The Oval], we were too far behind. You had to be careful to pick what balls you hit. In England, if you give yourself some time, you can score runs. So I was very selective at the start of the innings. Once I got used to the conditions, the runs came.
In the final session we were just thinking about how we can chase the total down. When I and Rahul bhai [KL Rahul] were batting, we were positive. The game plan was to play normal cricket, but then he got out, and then I got out…
Right now in this Indian team, we only play to win. Whatever the match, whatever the situation, every player, from No. 1 to 11, only thinks about how he can win the match for India. That is the most important thing for us. That we have to win it for India.
He said it is not compulsory that you attain experience after 100 Tests. Even in your second Test, you can do what nobody has ever done.
Yeah, I was aware, but there is no way I could land in trouble. I never abused anybody. It was normal, hard, competitive Test cricket. You keep saying those things because you want to play with the batsman's concentration. It was good banter. Personally I never felt that I crossed any line.
See, we don't go there to make the other team win the match. If you want to win it for your team, then [do] whatever it takes. They were also doing the same. Whoever executes the plans better wins.
Yes. I behave the way I usually do. There is no chance I will cross the line because I have never done so.
I am no one to decide. But what I will say is, you won't see this much banter all the time. There is time in Test cricket. You won't see it this much in ODIs and T20s. This is good competition. Good competition is important for Test cricket. But I can't say whether stump mics should be kept up or not.
I don't see it that way. The match is on. Even if the mic is off, you can lip-read what is being said. I don't feel the stump mics make that much of a difference.
I just focus on my processes. I don't see whether I am doing well or badly. Because results obviously matter, but at the end of the day, your processes are important. Whatever processes have brought me here, I need to focus on that. On my work ethic, on how much time I devote to wicketkeeping process, what I need to do before matches.
That my processes are working. That I can trust my game.
There have been quite a few changes. The support staff has changed, players have changed, the name has changed. I feel we can do something different this time. At the start of the season we are only focusing on how we can win the trophy.
The balance is quite good. Shikhi bhai is there, Ishant [Sharma] is there. We have got Colin Ingram. The mix of youth and experience will help.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo