Every time Umesh Yadav stepped out to bowl in the ongoing India-England series, the only question that did the rounds was if one had really seen the ball clocking an incredible 145kmph. The outcome of a ‘Yadav delivery’-whether it fetched a wicket or was dispatched to the fence, didn’t matter much. As long as he was bowling ‘quick’, everyone was happy. Wonder, why we are so obsessed with pace. Perhaps, it’s the deficiency of fast bowlers in the country which makes us crave for the skill. While we may have become a force to reckon with-becoming both the best Test team and having won the World Cup within a span of a few years, we have undoubtedly fallen short of giving back as good as we’ve got in the pace department. Hence, the excitement around Yadav’s pace. The big question though remains-is raw pace enough to sustain at the highest level? Does Yadav have it in him to galvanize this initial burst?
Umesh Yadav learnt the most important lesson early in his career-that pace alone wouldn’t do it. In fact, pace can work against you if the ball isn’t pitched in the right areas. While he was quick from the beginning, he primarily bowled two lengths-either really short or really full. His pace got him through the initial rounds (i.e domestic cricket) but he soon realized that the same pace that had got him so far, worked against him at the higher level. He needed to rework on his length and also add another dimension to his bowling to succeed. I played Umesh in this season’s Irani Trophy, and the change was apparent. He not only consistently pitched the ball in the good length area but also made the ball to swing away from the right-handed batsmen. No longer was he trying to bounce people out and it worked.
It’s heartening to know that the team management has defined a specific role for Umesh. He’s been asked to bowl as fast as he can, for that’s his forte and go for wickets, which is essential. He’s also given the license to go for a few runs in the bargain, which he would from time to time. The last thing we want is for someone to tell him to sacrifice pace for accuracy. We know what happened to Munaf and let’s hope that Umesh won’t go down that road too. Umesh Yadav is a captain’s bowler and his career graph would reflect how well Dhoni handled him. In the second ODI, Dhoni took him off the bowling attack immediately after he got hit for three fours in his first over and brought him back post the power-play overs. That was a smart move that protected his asset.
Remaining matches in this series and a few more against the West Indies will prime Yadav to face the tougher challenges in Australia. The series down under will be played with the Kookaburra ball on hard surfaces and hence he could become an important cog in India’s bowling wheel, since he’s a typical hit-the-deck-hard bowler, a must to succeed in Australia. While his ability to get bounce and movement off the surface will come handy, he may still have to work a bit more on adding a few variations and improving accuracy. That’s where the role of Eric Simmons, India’s bowling coach would become crucial, since both Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra can take care of themselves. It’s the young bowlers like Yadav and Aaron who’d test his abilities as a bowling coach and a mentor. It’s not easy to unearth talent, therefore once identified, they must be fostered.
This entry was posted on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 at 7:42 am
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