Enjoy being alone because trouble follows me everywhere – Prithvi Shaw
From a young age, Prithvi Shaw was destined for greatness. He rose to the top with the usual ease. As captain, he won the Under-19 World Cup, and to celebrate his international debut, he scored a Test century. He hasn’t been able to secure a spot in the national side, despite all the talent and performances. He has scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket and has made a name for himself in the IPL, but he hasn’t participated in an international match in the past two years.
Is there a particular facet of your game that you hope to advance since your last visit to the UK in 2018 when you play for Northamptonshire in a County season?
Since I was a young child, I have visited England. We have participated there before to the 2018 Under-19 World Cup as well. I played a lot of games with India A after that. I am therefore familiar with the terrain and playing environments. I had also amassed a considerable number of runs for India A. For me, this is a new team. I’m not familiar with their culture. To adjust to that can take some time. They have been quite welcoming to me since I’ve been in contact with them. So, I’m hoping for a positive experience.
Are you wanting to modify your game’s technical specifications for the English market?
I don’t believe this is the appropriate time to change my game right now. Whatever changes I needed to make to my strategy are now complete. Once I arrive and fix my gaze, all I have to do is play my natural game. Since I was twelve years old, I had been visiting there. In Manchester, I attended school there for six months. I enjoy the people and the country there. They are really lovely; I enjoy hanging around there. I have the chance to travel there and voice my opinion.
What do you hope to gain from your time in the County?
Just treat it like any other game, please. It resembles the elite games we engage in here. Just a different experience, nothing major. It means a lot to receive an invitation from them. The situation is the same; I must go there and help the team by scoring runs since that is what they anticipate from me. They have obviously watched me perform because they have called me there. They could have something in mind that they believe I am capable of. I anticipate having a nice time.
Deodhar Trophy was an option available to you. How do you think your batting development will benefit from your county experience?
Wining games would be the objective. The only thing that will matter, in my opinion, is scoring runs for the team. I’m only concerned with giving my best; I have no other thoughts. If I score runs there, I don’t anticipate anything significant. If I score runs there, it will be the same as if I score runs here. Just that I’ll try to win games for them and gain my own experience.
Bazball has gained a lot of traction among England’s Test team. Additionally, you play red-ball fairly aggressively.
What they mean when they say “Bazball” is beyond my comprehension. I can tell Mitchell Marsh plays Bazball cricket just glancing at his bat. New names will be proposed by individuals. My style of play is to hit the ball if I see it. I’m not sure what they’ll name that. At the end of the day, woh apna cricket hai (that’s our sport, cricket), regardless of what they call it: baseball, hockey, or whatever.
How do you view the scenario of being let go by a team as an athlete? It’s not something you would have encountered frequently as a child.
I was not informed of the reason why I was removed [from the Indian team]. Someone suggested that it might be fitness. Of course, I arrived here to Bengaluru, passed all of the NCA’s examinations, continued to score runs, and rejoined the T20 team. but once more missed my opportunity in the West Indies. Although I’m disappointed, you must continue. I am powerless to act or engage in conflict with anyone. I simply prefer to be alone as a human. There are many comments made about me. But those who know me well understand who I am.
Since I dislike making new friends, I don’t have any. The current generation is experiencing this. Nobody is allowed to hear what you are thinking. Personally, I find it to be really frightening. To convey my opinions, darr lagta hai aajkal. Agle din social media mein aa jaata hai (I’m reluctant to express my ideas. Everything appears on social media in some capacity). I have a very small number of friends—just a few—and even with them, I only share a limited number of things with them.
How do you reduce outside noise?
That cannot be cut. If you have ears, you will undoubtedly hear all that is spoken about you. So when people talk, it reaches your ears. I’m not sure what people mean when they say, “I don’t listen to outside noise.” Of course you’ll hear what’s being said. But if you’re focused on your game and what’s going on on the field, that’s all you need to know.
How much do you think about yourself?
I do consider a few things. But I don’t bring too much stress into my room. If I’m out early, I’m not going to be able to bat again. So I’m concentrating on my next inning. I just go back to my room and relax, take a shower, and play FIFA, Call of Duty, or Uncharted on my PlayStation. People will harass me if I go out. They’ll post anything on social media, so I’d rather not go out these days. What do I do when I go out? (laughs) Jaha bhi jaau, kuch na kuch hota hai. Jaana hi band kar diya hoon (Trouble follows me everywhere I go. I’ve stopped going out entirely).
I’ve been going out alone for lunches and meals lately. I’ve started to prefer being alone. I went to see the movie Insidious a few days ago by myself. It was extremely scary, baap re baap, khatarnaak movie tha bahut. It’s a good thing it wasn’t in 3D. I was alone and couldn’t even summon someone to sit next to me (laughs).
When you want to communicate your opinions, who do you contact?
I’m still chatting to my father. When it comes to cricket, I contact my coach, Prashant Shetty. I’m telling you, I’ve stopped discussing my opinions with others. I keep everything inside.
Have you stopped opening up to people because they are invading your life, or have you always been this way?
I speak the truth. Previously, when someone spoke to me politely, I would simply open up. Later, I’d find out that someone was saying the same things behind my back. This has not happened only once, but several times. But it doesn’t matter anymore. I realized on my own that this world operates differently.
We, I believe, invented the concept of best friend. ‘He’s my best friend,’ I say. A ‘friend’ is wonderful, but there are no ‘best friends’ in the traditional sense. I have friends, and I am a friend, but you will not share everything with them. You’re not going to give them your ATM pin, are you? ‘The best friend is the one who shares everything,’ they say. We can’t possibly disclose everything, can we?
Yes, I have two or three buddies who visit me in my room on occasion. We play PlayStation, FIFA, and just hang out.
Do you think your cricket success attracted a lot of ‘Yes-Men’?
100% of the time. Isn’t it changing? Whenever you have something in your life. It could also be a matter of respect on their part. It’s not just the haan mein haan milana (those who agree with anything you say) because he’s huge; it may also be respect for me. I respect people – if I’m doing haan mein haan with them, I respect them because they’ve seen more than I have. Yes, there are people, but you must know who and what to chat with.
When did you become aware of this? Was it when you first failed?
It is not about failing. I just realized what you meant. I’m not sure when it happened, but I got it. I learned about how things work here. You can’t please everyone. I dislike being unkind to anyone. My father usually says, ‘Tu thoda bhola hai isliye bol deta hain jo nahi bhi bolna hai’ (You’re naive, which is why you end up saying things you shouldn’t say). Dad has been repeating it for a long time, but I only just realized it. I couldn’t see it previously, therefore I didn’t notice. Now that I’ve gone through it, I understand.
How do you deal with your fair share of ups and downs?
That will not stop. You’re unable to stop it. I can’t just hide myself in my room and sit. We must deal with it; you have no choice. It’s okay if you know you’re right. People will say what they want to say. We can’t keep kids from saying stuff.
Who on the India squad did you confide in?
Everyone interacts with one another. But opening up… not likely. At least, I’ve never opened up to anyone. Yes, all the mazaak-masti (fun and games) takes place. However, personal space used to be personal.
Do you think about your time apart from the India team? You’re doing well, and in the back of your mind, you’re thinking about the Indian squad…
All of your efforts have been directed solely toward this goal. That is my one and only dream: to play for India for at least 12-14 years. I want India to win the World Cup. That is there [one major objective], and I must attain it in my life. I need to put in the effort and score runs. That is the only way to arrive. Let’s see how it goes.
Are you a spiritual person?
Absolutely not. Yes, if you’re talking about Gods. I pray – my favorite saint is Sai Baba. Certain events in my life have made me believe that I have been blessed by the Almighty. We used to go to Shirdi very frequently as children. There is no one deity; everyone is equal. I always pray during any festival. Ganesh Chaturthi is a significant celebration in Mumbai. We’ve been viewing it since we were little. I no longer get to dance [at festivals], but I used to like it. When you play the dhol, your hands never stop moving. It’s great fun.
Do you want to go out and enjoy festivals like these, or go to the movies, or whatever?
Yes, I do yearn for it. But I’m not able to do all of that right now. God has blessed me with a new life. I’ve inhabited the alternate reality. Now I need to accomplish something excellent because my life is going great.
Is there something you’d like to clear up about yourself?
Will they cease even if I say so? They will continue to say. They will write positive things about me if I perform well on the field. If I am not doing well (with my cricket), they will write: ‘Oh he went there, enjoyed somewhere, this and then’. It will continue to happen. It happens even to the top players. When you are not performing well, something bad emerges, even if it is not representative of the individual. Things will be said even if I don’t walk out. We are powerless to stop them.
What is your favorite mood booster?
I turn off my phone. The mood immediately improves. Because of social media, everything creeps into your thoughts.
Do you regard your time in the UK as a fresh start in your life outside of cricket?
I believe. In fact, I wake up every day hoping for something good to happen. It’s not about the location. When I get up or meet someone, even if I am upset or disappointed, I never let the other person feel as if I am going through something. Whatever it is – be it anger or crying – I do it in my room. I’ll be smiling again once I open the door.