As Team India take on the Aussies in what will be their last ODI before the World Cup today, the stage is set for T20 fever to take over the imagination of cricket lovers world over. With the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League set to kick off on March 23, VVS Laxman is looking forward to set aside his commentator’s cap and slip into the role of a mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad . “The best part of being a mentor to the Hyderabad franchise is getting to work with Aussie all-rounder Tom Moody and spin maestro, Muttiah Muralitharan. We share a great rapport and have immense respect for each other. We have some very talented players in our fold and the management has given us a free hand to take all cricketing decisions. I believe we have it in us to win the trophy this year and that’s going to be our prime focus for the next couple of months,” says Laxman, as he settles down for a chat with Hyderabad Times. Excerpts:Of course! Warner is one of the best batsman in the world and he’s been brilliant for us both as a captain and a batsman. In the last 4 to 5 years, his success has been a boon for the franchise. So yes, him being a part of the team will definitely strengthen our chances to lift the title.(Smiles) I’m afraid I cannot reveal that right now. The management will make an official announcement soon.Yes. I’m very happy with the quality of players that we have got in our squad. More importantly, it’s a balanced team. With the spin trio of Shakib Al Hasan, Rashid Khan and Shahbaz Nadeem, our bowling strength is unmatched. We picked up Jonny Bairstow in the auction this year and he will definitely strengthen the side. Momentum is everything in a tournament like this, so we’re working on team bonding right now.Today’s youth is fearless and that attitude is visible in their body language and the way they play their cricket. I think aggression today is not confined to cricket alone as it’s equally prevalent in other sports as well, because the new generation of Indians are a confident lot. And it’s not a bad thing. I can say this because, while growing up we had a sense ofinsecurity in us and there was a dearth of career opportunities. But that’s no longer the case. Today’s youth has everything — self belief, exposure, knowledge of what’s happening in the world and so on. So it will naturally reflect in the way they play and express themselves.There is no fixed method as such. Every player is different — while some are expressive, others are shy. And as a mentor, I have understood that well and have changed my teaching methodology to suit the changing times. Earlier, the coach had the final word; they used to dictate rather than demand. But now you can’t do that in any field, let alone cricket. My personal experience says that after you make a student identify his/her pros and cons and leave it to them to choose what’s good for them. Every player approaches the game differently, thinks differently and has a different style of playing the game. All we can do is encourage them.Oh yes, the change is immense. To start with, I think I was fortunate enough to go to an academy which had good infrastructure. Back then the focus was more on honing the primary skills of the cricketers, whether it’s batting, bowling or fielding. But today there is a lot of stress on physical fitness and psychological aspects of the cricketer. Our coaches in the academy also conduct video analysis sessions with the students where they study clips of established players. Whenever I’m in Hyderabad, I visit the academy twice or thrice a week and when travelling, I monitor things on the phone.I was fortunate that my parents gave me the freedom to do and choose whatever I wanted to; they never imposed anything on me. So I’ll do the same with my kids — Sarvajit and Achinthya. I must say that my children love sports and outdoor activities. But my daughter Achinthya is more inclined towards Kuchipudi and singing. What we, as parents, are trying to do is give them all the exposure and opportunities to choose whatever they like and want to pursue in life. Ultimately, it’s up to them to decide and realise what they want to be. And as parents, it’s our responsibility to encourage them at every step. My wife has been extremely supportive and she inculcated ethics and values in them while I was away playing for the country. In fact, whenever I’m with them, I feel I disrupt their discipline by pampering them (laughs).I am very proud of our women’s cricket team. Not just Mithali (Raj) but the entire team for achieving unprecedented success across the world. In fact, I am proud of all the women sportspersons of India because I know how hard they have worked to be successful in their respective sports. Sometimes listening to their extraordinary stories makes someone like me, with years of experience, feel that I still have a lot to learn. Our sportswomen have dreams and they are leaving no stone unturned to realise them. I would like to urge all parents out there to help and support their wards realise their dreams. In today’s world, education in not limited to academics alone but is about all round development of a child. From boosting one’s self-belief, confidence, leadership qualities to focus, commitment and competitiveness, sports can induce a lot of qualities in a person for their betterment.