How are you dealing with retirement?
Oh, I am very satisfied with myself. First few days were tough. You need to come to terms with the fact that you are not an international cricketer anymore and that’s certainly difficult to come to terms with. But then I love going to my farm and spending time with my family. Drop and pick up my kids from school and play cricket as well. I am enjoying every bit of what I have and feel blessed to have done what I have been able to do for my country.
England started out as overwhelming favourites and then all seemed to go wrong and then the game against India. How do you see the campaign so far?
That’s what sport is all about. Five days back you were fifth (in the points table) and if you have five good days you are in the semi-finals. And then it is just about two good days and you can be world champions. As I said ahead of the India game, all England need to do is look at every game as a knock out. They had to play the India game as a pre-quarterfinal, New Zealand as a quarter-final and then the semi-final and final. That’s how they need to approach the remaining games and if they play to potential there’s no reason why they can’t win the tournament from here on.
England have fared well while batting first. While chasing they have stuttered against good sides. Do you think England have a one-dimensional game and that can be an issue?
I am sure England have a plan B and also a plan C. They have played some outstanding white ball cricket in the last three years but in this World Cup, we haven’t seen them implement the plan B and C. That’s why you are saying what you are saying. But this team has immense potential and as I said three more games and they can be world champions.
When you know you need to win one more game to be in the semi-finals, it boils down to how you handle the pressure. How did you as captain and player deal with pressure?
Yes, it does boil down to how you can embrace the pressure and soak it all in. In my case, I’ll give you the example of the Indian tour of 2012. I was captaining England for the first time and many felt India at home would avenge the 0-4 series loss of 2011. India started brilliantly in Ahmedabad and we knew we were up against it. That’s when the pressure is at its highest. I wanted to enjoy the challenge and it was important for me to do so as leader of the team. It is important the players see the leader do the same thing. They should never feel the leader is anxious and behaving abnormally. I scored hundred in Mumbai and then again in Kolkata and we won the series. Here, Eoin Morgan needs to do the same. He is anyways a calm person and he shouldn’t do anything different to what he does normally. His boys should always feel the leader is in control of things and that’s how you deal with the pressure. It sends a signal to every member of the team that the captain knows what is at stake and is in charge of things.
What is your assessment of India? Except the game against England, India have played some fantastic cricket?
They have looked impressive. Rohit (Sharma) and Virat (Kohli) have batted very well and while (Shikhar) Dhawan is a blow for them, they seem to have all bases covered. (Jasprit) Bumrah is according to me the best in the world at the moment and (Mohammed) Shami has also bowled very well. They also have very potent spinners. India is certainly looking like a team to beat in the tournament.
There has been a lot of talk about former players versus current players in the English camp with Johnny Bairstow saying that some people don’t want England to win. Your thoughts?
If you have lost matches and not played to potential, criticism will come your way. Critics and media will say what they see and take you on. They will say things which you might not like to hear. But that’s professional sport. You need to buckle down and just go out there and perform. The moment you do like what you did against India, all of this falls into place.
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