Shiva Vashishat led his side to
the national championship
Ganesh Sanap, the president of the Northern California Cricket Association, says Shiva Vashishat has the qualities of a natural born leader on the cricket field. He has watched the 18-year-old grow up "before my own eyes" since he was 15.
"He comes from a good family and background," said Sanap. "He puts himself in harm's way and takes responsibility."
Shiva's leadership skills were rewarded when he was named captain of the US Under 19 team after he successfully led the North West Region in the recent national tournament.
A psychology student, Shiva, who came to the US with his family from the Punjab in India eight years ago, is no stranger to the captaincy. He has led the North West Region in three of the past four years and has been skipper of his local team, the Broncos, in a Super 25 competition.
"I like the leadership skills, setting an example from the front and getting the team together," he told DreamCricket.com.
Even though he is still a teenager, Shiva is aware that a captain's job is a lot more than tossing the coin before a game and leading the team onto the field. There is the responsibility of field placings, when to make a bowling change and sometimes change the batting order, among others. And off the field he has the role of representing the team and handling press conferences.
The captain is the face of the team.
Shiva understands that discipline on and off the field is part of his job and to keep the team together in what he describes as "clutch situations. Unity is very important."
He often uses words like togetherness and setting an example by saying: "I like setting an example from the front and getting the team together." He gives the impression that the team does not revolve around him and that he works on it being a close unit.
Shiva said the national captaincy was "a huge honor. It was a dream that came true. I did not completely expect it. I was happy," he said.
He says he models himself on India's Rahul Dravid. "I like his temperament, stroke play and captaincy," he said.
One of his goals in life is to play Test cricket with the US senior team. He understands he has a long way to go before selectors will call him to senior level and is aware that he has to practice hard, stay fit and healthy and perform. "It is possible," he said.
Last year Shiva was selected in the "probables team" before selectors chose the senior team and spent two days on and off the field with US captain Steve Massiah. "It was a really good experience with Steve. He was pretty straight forward with everything. He is a dedicated guy and I picked up a lot of things from him. I saw the fitness level we had to reach," he said.
Right now Shiva practices three or four times a week and works out three days a week. So far his cricket and studies are blending well. Asked if he would like to one day captain the US, he said: "That would be something."
Massiah recalls his time with Shiva and said: "He is a solid player and has a good technique. I think he has a bright future and I wish him and the entire Under 19 team all the success they can get," he said.
Wicketkeeper Saami Siddiqui said that one of Shiva's strongest points was his ability to communicate. "He is very good that way with the players," he said. "He listens to advice and then makes up his mind. He is not a stuck up captain."
Saami, who was chosen as the US Under 19 wicketkeeper, said Shiva was prepared for matches and always had a plan for his bowlers. "He really is good and has leadership qualities," he said. "It is not the easiest bunch (Under 19s) to control."
Abrar Ahmad, the manager and chief selector of the North West Region team, recalls Shiva beginning with the Bay Cricket Alliance League in 2002 and Kulwant Virdi, who was a coach at the time, saw leadership qualities in the youngster even then.
"I think he was only 14 when he was captain in social and conditioning games," said Ahmad. "They were prepping him to be a captain. I remember Shiva being very involved, he helped prepare the field and also played."
Ahmad believes Shiva has to stay focused and not let his recent achievements "get to his head." He added that he also showed experience out in the middle. "He doesn't panic, he gets guys involved, makes the right bowling changes and field placings and impressed selectors (at the Under 19 tournament). He was at the right place at the right time," said Ahmad.
Saqib Saleem, a batsman and leg spinner who was chosen in the Under 19 team, said Shiva was always talking to teammates so he could get to know them better. "He is very smart and a fast learner. He knows when to make bowling changes and the right field placings," he said.
"We have been friends for four or five years and Shiva is always trying to improve himself," said Saqib.
Owen Graham, who played in Jamaica before he moved to the US 15 years ago, has worked with Shiva by passing on tips about playing and captaincy at the highest level.
"He is a good all round athlete. He is very level headed and the sky is the limit for him," said Graham. "He has tremendous potential, is a very nice young man and we talk a lot. He is a good listener and learns well. He has a good head on his shoulders."
Graham has such a high opinion of Shiva that he said: "I would take him as my son."
The US Under 19 team is in good hands and the right leadership.