No Shaw thing: Ponting puts heat on IPL star
Delhi's Australian coach hopeful of tapping into Indian young gun's 'superstar' potential after his disappointing 2020 IPL campaign
5 April 2021, 06:54 PM AEST
Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting has revealed his struggle to unlock the best of Prithvi Shaw, the Indian batting prodigy he rates as one of the most talented players he has seen.
Shaw enters the upcoming Indian Premier League as one of world cricket's most intriguing prospects, with Ponting making him something of a pet project ahead of his fourth season at the helm of Delhi.
The 21-year-old passed 50 just twice and averaged 17.53 from 13 games during last year's IPL, and Ponting admitted he was left perplexed by the right-hander's training approach, particularly during his lean spell to end the tournament.
Shaw scored two half-centuries in three innings early in the campaign but then failed to pass 20 in his final eight knocks, and was left out of the side altogether for all but one of their playoff games as the Capitals lost in the final to Mumbai Indians.
"I've tried (taking Shaw under his wing) the last two years and I've really enjoyed working with him," Ponting told cricket.com.au before departing for India. "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.
"But 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."
Shaw's importance to Delhi will likely be even greater in the coming weeks after captain Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury, and he certainly enters this year's IPL in red-hot form.
He recently put together the most prolific domestic 50-over campaign ever by an Indian batsman, captaining Mumbai to the Vijay Hazare Trophy while smashing 827 runs at 165.40 including four centuries in an astonishing eight-innings stint.
That came after a challenging Test tour of Australia during which he was dropped after the series opener, admitting he felt "worthless" and suffered the "saddest day of my life" when he got the news of losing his spot.
It was Ponting who memorably predicted Shaw's dismissal two balls into the Test series in Adelaide, saying on commentary for Channel Seven that he had a technical issue with balls swinging back into him before Mitchell Starc did exactly that and bowled him for a duck.
"If he does have a chink in his armour it's the ball which does come back into him... "Quite often leaves a big gap between bat and pad and that's where the Aussies will target." @RickyPonting at his peerless best for the Prithvi Shaw wicket #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/4nh67zBcpU— 7Cricket (@7Cricket) December 17, 2020
Ponting had not held back in giving Shaw his opinion a few months earlier during the IPL.
"I was going pretty hard at him," said the former Australia captain. "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."
Shaw had been tipped a future star after scoring a mammoth 546 in a school game as a 14-year-old before becoming the youngest Indian to make a Test century on debut in 2018.
Yet he has already faced his fair share of setbacks in his short career.
He suffered a tour-ending ankle injury in a practice match before India's 2018-19 Test series against Australia had even begun, while he then served an eight-month suspension for taking a prohibited anti-asthma drug.
His batting technique has since been publicly picked apart by the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Ponting, who nonetheless believes Shaw is capable of reaching his immense potential.
"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," said Ponting.
"He's diminutive … in the (Sachin) Tendulkar sort of mould but hits the ball incredibly powerfully off 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."
Don't miss The Heat Repeat on Foxtel, coming April 7. The two-part documentary will also be shown on Kayo and cricket.com.au.