Category: _author:Baidurjo Bhose

New Delhi: The trait of a good coach is to not change a player, but to work according to the strength of his ward. And that is exactly what former Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath believes in. Known for his immaculate line and length in a career that saw him take 563 Test wickets and 381 ODI wickets, the fast bowler who now works closely with young fast bowlers at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai feels that one should never compromise on pace. Also known as Pigeon, one of Australia’s greatest fast bowlers told budding fast bowlers at a two-day camp organised by the Haryana Cricket Association in partnership with MRF Pace Foundation, that a bowler’s ability to bowl fast makes him unique and being able to pitch the ball in the right areas at pace is what makes him lethal.

Speaking to CricketNext, on the sidelines of a two-day camp at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium in Lahli, McGrath cited the example of Mitchell Johnson when he said that the left-arm fast bowler was the biggest example of how the perfect combination of pace and accuracy made a bowler unplayable – during the Ashes in 2013-14 in Australia as he finished with 37 wickets in the series.

“Pace is what makes you unique and you just need to work on control. Mitchell Johnson is a good example during the Ashes series in Australia where he kept his pace and worked on his control, sorted out his action and suddenly went from a dangerous bowler to a lethal bowler. So you should always try to bowl at your quickest, but work on your accuracy,” he said.

There have been cases in India over the years when bowlers who broke through on the scene due to their ability to bowl fast turned to bowling line and length. But McGrath said he hated the idea of seeing someone cut down on pace to increase accuracy. He went on to add that a bowler cannot be taught to bowl fast, so if one has that ability, that shouldn’t ever be compromised.

“I think you always try to bowl quicker there is no doubt about that. But what we are trying to improve is our control. If we can improve our control and land the ball where we want, there is more chance of taking wickets. Pace is something that is unique. You can’t teach someone who bowls at 130kph to bowl at 160kph. And if there is a bowler who can bowl at 160kph, I hate to see them slow down to 140 to get control. That is just ridiculous,” he smiled.

Senior bowlers like Harshal Patel and India fast bowler Mohit Sharma were also seen at the camp as it is not every day that one gets to work closely with one of the best the game had. And McGrath said that some things only come with experience and cannot be taught at the training ground alone.

“I think it comes down to experience. You can talk to guys who have done it before and that will give him ideas on what he should do, how he should be thinking and how he needs to go about his job. But then, at the end of the day, it is on the individual to execute the plan at the wicket.

“Also, it is important that the bowler has faith and belief in himself to try things. If you try something and that doesn’t work, then when you face a similar situation again, you know what doesn’t work. But if you are hesitant about trying something new, then you will never learn anything. Plenty of people can give you advice and suggestions, listen to them, but do what suits you,” he explained.

The two-day camp saw young bowlers not only asking the Australian legend about the do’s and don’ts of fast bowling, but also on how to ensure that they manage the workload and train in the off-season. One of the fast bowlers at the academy shared his experience and said: “He is so humble and approachable. He told me that with the workload and the hectic schedule it is tough being a fast bowler on the body. We have to be physically strong enough and fit enough to put up with the stresses of fast bowling. At our age, we should look at starting to get a little stronger. He went on to explain that if we have a good bowling coach who can give us a few pointers in terms of technique that always helps. But there are a lot of fast bowling coaches out there who are not technically sure what they are doing.

“He even added that when he was playing, he honestly had no idea. It has only been in the last six years that he has worked out the technical side of things. He added that at our age, we have to be prepared to work hard as there is no substitute to hardwork. If we can find a balance between how much bowling we should be doing and the amount of strength training that we should do, that would be ideal.”

Signing off, McGrath had just two points that he wants all young bowlers to remember. “One you need to know yourself and secondly you must get to know your game,” he said.

New Delhi: After the 31-run defeat in the first Test of the five-match series against England at Edgbaston, there is more bad news in store for skipper Virat Kohli. Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah is unlikely to win the race against time to be fit for the second Test that starts at the historic Lord’s on Thursday.

Despite his fractured thumb, the national selectors had picked him in the Test team for the first three games and had said that he would be considered for the second and third Test. But CricketNext has learnt from sources in the know of development that there could still be some time before Bumrah is a 100 per cent and ready to take the field. While Bumrah has been bowling regularly at the nets and keeping ready for when he can get onto the field, the thumb will need a little more time before he can bat, bowl and field with ease.

The BCCI while naming the squad for the first three Test had said: “Jasprit Bumrah who has been included in the squad, will be available for selection from the 2nd Test onwards based on his fitness.”

Even though the Indian bowlers did a good job otherwise, the inconsistent performance from Umesh Yadav will definitely be a matter of thought for the team management. In 24 overs in the two innings combined, he gave away 56 runs in the first innings at 3.29 and the English batsmen scored 20 runs off his seven in the second innings at 2.86. He picked just 3 wickets in a game that was dominated by the fast bowlers.

Bumrah was injured during the first T20I against Ireland and while he was with the team till the end of the series, he returned home during the ODI series against England after undergoing surgery in UK. He was back with the Test squad when the likes of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Cheteshwar Pujara flew in to join the Test squad before the warm-up game against Essex.

With the Lord’s known for its slope and the way it aids seam movement off the wicket, the angled-in action of Bumrah could have been more than a handful for the English batsmen, as on display during the third Test between India and South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg earlier in the year.

New Delhi: BCCI officials have raised eyebrows about the appointment of Delhi coach KP Bhaskar and former Delhi and India batsman Gursharan Singh as coaches of the India Green and India Blue teams respectively for the upcoming Duleep Trophy. Divakar Vasu was named coach of the India Red team and have been asked to report on August 15 in Madurai to prepare for the tournament, as per a letter from GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim on Friday.

However, the move to appoint the coaches, especially Singh, came as a surprise to BCCI officials who questioned the process followed in the appointments. On checking with the office-bearers, CricketNext learnt that secretary Amitabh Chaudhary’s approval wasn’t sought before the appointments for the three positions. In fact, one of the senior officials questioned if Karim’s association with Singh in running a cricket academy in Delhi before the former India wicket-keeper’s appointment in the BCCI, wondering aloud if that made this a case of conflict of interest as per the recommendations of the Lodha committee.

“It does raise eyebrows,” the official told “Singh was involved with cricket academies in the Capital and Karim was a part of one such set-up. Isn’t that then amounting to conflict of interest? As per the proposals of the Lodha panel when an individual has a direct or indirect independent commercial engagement with a vendor or service provider in the past, which is now to be engaged by or on behalf of the BCCI, its Member, the IPL or the Franchisee, it falls under the conflict scenario.

“I am surprised that while the selection was made from the pool of Zonal Cricket Academy coaches, two of them are from Delhi itself. I am sure there are coaches from other places as well who have completed certification and are eligible to be appointed for the positions. The process involved must be looked into.”

While Karim wasn’t available for a comment, another official defended the appointment.

“The conflict of interest clause comes into picture only when it is national duty,” he said. “WV Raman is busy with the U-19 team in Sri Lanka, Narendra Hirwani is also busy with cricketing duties. It was felt that picking from the pool of ZCA coaches was the best option as has been the norm when it comes to these short-term appointments.”

In a similar scenario, during the recently concluded DDCA elections, questions of conflict were raised against presidential candidate and former India all-rounder Madan Lal as he runs his cricket academy in the Capital. Lal had then said that he would sever ties with the academy if he won the election as that would otherwise amount to a conflict of interest.

New Delhi: While refusing to divulge specifics on their practice routines ahead of the series in England, Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma described his ward’s effort on Day two at Edgbaston as “one of his best innings.” Sharma, who has mentored and trained Kohli since his initiation into the game, told CricketNext that he was particularly pleased to watch how well Kohli “countered the pressure” brought on by the English bowlers on his way to making his first triple figure score in the country.

“I am extremely pleased,” a beaming Sharma told CricketNext. “One of the best innings I have seen him play. Scoring hundreds isn’t something new, but to take counter the pressure put by the English bowlers and to show the determination that he did brought a smile to my face. I have been hearing a lot about how this was the biggest test that awaited Kohli. I am happy that he silenced them with the bat. But something that one needs to realise is that he has been scoring consistently in the last four years. You cannot forget that.

“If you saw the innings yesterday, you would have seen how he was constantly stealing singles, converting singles into doubles. In an innings that lasted 225 balls, you can only do that when you are supremely fit. The point that needs to be noted is that Kohli spends as much time working on his cricketing skills as he does on improving his fitness.”

Rajkumar Sharma with Virat Kohli. (Facebook)

In 58 innings as captain, Kohli had scored 14 centuries going into the first Test. However, ever since India landed on English soil for the limited-overs and Test series, there has been plenty of talk about his wretched run in the 2014 series. Sharma, who has been known to work closely with Kohli ahead of every series, said that the doubters have been silenced once and for all after that performance. Though when asked what exactly Kohli worked on to ensure he had the best preparation for the challenge, Sharma kept his cards close to his chest.

“We can’t get into details, but I have always told him that he should just go out and enjoy himself in the middle,” he said. “He doesn’t really need to prove a point. What he needs to do is play to his strength and that is exactly what he did yesterday. The fact that he didn’t take pressure and was enjoying himself in the middle was evident in the way he batted when the English bowlers were bowling a probing line and length.

“You have to give credit where due. They were all bowling well and the conditions suited them. I was really impressed by Curran and then Stokes. Stokes looked to be in great rhythm and was constantly asking questions. I was happy to see how Kohli was ready to wait for the bad balls and punish them.”

New Delhi: Former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Anurag Thakur, who was removed from office by the Supreme Court on January 2, 2017 for obstructing the reforms proposed by the Lodha panel, has now filed a petition in the apex court to make him party to the proceedings and recall the earlier order. Thakur’s has urged the court to hear his side of the story about the circumstances that led to the situation.

In his plea, accessed by CricketNext, Thakur says that despite serving Indian cricket with distinction as an administrator since 2000, first in the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association and then in the BCCI, he was unrepresented when the court decided to remove him from the president’s chair. He added that his name has been under public scrutiny ever since the decision and has caused a lot of embarrassment to him and he wishes to present his side to the apex court.

Thakur in his petition has said that he wants the current bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud to hear him out at least once as despite pleas to the earlier bench, he was never heard in person or through a counsel. As a result of this he wasn’t aware of any hearing, discussion or debate about his conduct in the whole matter as the then chief of BCCI.

Former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, had on December 15 threatened to initiate perjury charges against Thakur for allegedly lying on oath about asking the International Cricket Council (ICC) to get involved in the situation and term the Lodha reforms as government interference.

It was said that Thakur had written in his affidavit that he had sought Shashank Manohar’s opinion as ICC chairman while Manohar had said that the question had been posed during an ICC meeting. In fact, ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson had backed Manohar and said that the BCCI had sought a letter from the world body. Richardson went on to add that Thakur had criticised ICC for not helping the Indian board at a time of crisis.

The court had given Thakur time till January 19 to reply to the charges levied against him. On March 6, Thakur’s lawyer PS Patwalia read a statement in which his client “tendered my unconditional and unqualified apology”. The apology had in fact saved Thakur from a potential jail term after the SC had threatened him with that outcome if he was found guilty of lying under oath in an attempt to stall the implementation of the Lodha reforms.

New Delhi: A move by the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) to invite state associations for an inter-state 50-over tournament has led to murmurs of disquiet among the BCCI officials. The point of contention is that current administrators in charge of running the JKCA appear to have overlooked the fact that prior permission needs to be taken from the BCCI general body before hosting any such tournament.

As per the mail sent out to the state associations, accessed by CricketNext, the tournament is to be held between August 10 and 30, 2018. The motive behind the tournament is to prepare teams for the upcoming national tournaments and also help the players share their experience of playing state-level cricket as per a letter by JKCA CEO Ashiq Hussain Bukhari.

Currently, as per orders from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Justice CK Prasad and Justice Syed Rafat Alam are the administrators in charge of looking after the daily functioning of the JKCA and former DIG Bukhari works as CEO.

Speaking to CricketNext, a senior BCCI official said that the move came as a surprise because no such request had been made to the general body. “As per rules and regulations, you need to take prior permission from the board,” the official said. “This is getting frustrating since the experienced administrators have been replaced and in some cases like the JKCA you have professional officials who aren’t very well aware about the rules and regulations of the board. You cannot just decide that you will organise an inter-state tournament. Certain protocols need to be followed.” he said.

Former JKCA secretary Iqbal Shah, elected first in 2015 and then re-elected in 2016, said that the association needed to be aware of the protocols to ensure that such a lapse didn’t take place. “After we stopped elections as per the orders of the Supreme Court in the BCCI matter — no fresh elections were allowed till the state associations complied with the Lodha reforms — some individuals moved court asking the Jammu and Kashmir HC to appoint administrators.

“We have two administrators now, but they hardly come to the association and interact with the staff to understand the problems we are the facing at the ground level. I am sure they weren’t aware of the rules before sending such an invite to other state associations.”

New Delhi: After Mumbai and Kerala, the Tripura Cricket Association has now written to the BCCI saying that it will not be in a position to host the domestic games till October in the 2018-19 due to the ongoing monsoon in the state.

This year the domestic season starts in August and Tripura secretary Jayanta De wrote to the board, marking GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim, to express the state’s inability to organise any matches for the first couple of months of the season.

In the letter, in possession of CricketNext, De said: “I would like to bring the matter to your notice that in our state of Tripura, the climate condition is very much peculiar and since April to October in every year, there would be bad weather and heavy shower.

“In this context, it could not be possible for us to host any matches of BCCI upto October, as because we need some time to prepare the ground as well as pitch for match fit condition after the rainy season completes. Under this circumstance, we would request you to kindly consider the matter and feel free to determine any matches of BCCI Domestic Cricket Tournaments (in every cricket season) zonal or elite/plate to host in our state from the 1st week of November.”

Most state associations have raised concerns about the decision to start the season early as the monsoon is generally known to be prevalent till September in most of the country.

New Delhi: The heat wave in England has seen the hosts recall Adil Rashid for the first Test against India at Edgbaston from August 1. So, quite naturally, the visitors too will look at their spinning trio of R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja to play a pivotal role in the five-match series.

Speaking to CricketNext, former spinner Maninder Singh, who took 12 wickets in India’s 2-0 series win in England in 1986 at an average of just 15.58, said that current form and rhythm will be an important aspect when Virat Kohli picks two of the three spinners for the first Test. He feels that the extreme weather conditions are bound to change the strategy and the option of playing the lone spinner will be done away with.

“The weather will see both teams fielding more than one spinner,” he asserted. “In such a case, I think my money is on Ashwin and Kuldeep. The simple reason is that both of them can pick wickets. On foreign soil you need wicket-takers. I am happy if my spinner gives away say 120 runs in 30 overs and gives me 5 wickets in return.

“Jadeja does give you the option of some runs lower down the order, but I have never been a big fan of bits and pieces cricketers. I like all-rounders for sure, but a little bit of batting and a little bit of bowling doesn’t work for me.”

Legendary Indian off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna, a member of the famed quartet of the 1960s & 70s, agrees with Singh’s view that the climatic conditions prevailing in England currently give Virat Kohli and his team the advantage.

“The spinners in the team know their job very well,” he said. “They will get assistance from the weather and they also have a brilliant captain in the form of Kohli. With this team always looking to go for the kill, it should be a thrilling contest between bat and ball.”

Singh feels that Ashwin’s county experience will make him all the more effective this time round. Ashwin played for Worcestershire in four championship matches last summer and finished with 20 wickets including two five-wicket hauls, helping the county gain promotion to Division One. He also averaged 42 with the bat.

“See, Ashwin not just played for Worcestershire, he also picked wickets which means that he got a hang of the line and length,” he said. “That will come in handy this time round. And Yadav is the in-form guy who troubled the England batsmen during the limited-overs series and will be even more effective in Tests with the attacking field round the bat.”

New Delhi: In another instance of the total lack of communication between the Supreme Court Appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the CoA’s decision to engage a consultant/advisor for the Asia Cup in the UAE later this year has board officials seeing red.

BCCI officials have been taken by surprise as the Asia Cup is an Asian Cricket Council (ACC) organised tournament and the funding is to be done by the ACC itself. However, in meeting on May 18, the minutes of which have been accessed by CricketNext, the CoA recommended the engagement of an advisor and asked for a detailed report post consultation.

The CoA’s reasoning for the decision was to avoid a scenario like the IPL in 2009 when the tournament was moved to South Africa and there were various regulatory issues under the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA).

However, BCCI officials fail to understand the need for a consultant for the Asia Cup because not only is the tournament being hosted by ACC, hence outside the purview of the BCCI, but also since the board already has a consultant for such matters, who was instrumental in the smooth hosting of the first half of the IPL in UAE in 2014.

“The decision comes as a shocker,” a BCCI official unwilling to be named told CricketNext. “The CoA needs to be told that the Asia Cup is ACC’s property. Also, I am amazed that they had a discussion about the situation that arose during the 2009 move to South Africa, but there was no mention of the successful hosting of the first half of the IPL in UAE in 2014.

“Our existing consultant ensured that all issues were taken into account and the mistakes committed by the board back in the second season of the IPL wasn’t repeated when we had to move the IPL due to general elections the second time round. There seems to be no mention of that in the minutes. In fact, in 2014, the treasurer had ensured that everything should have the sign off from him before proceeding with even a single step.”

Another official went on to add that the financial measures to be taken by the ACC now that the tournament is being hosted in UAE could be completely different from the process that might have been required to host the tournament in India.

“The ACC may be required to deal with it differently from the point of view of structuring the financial aspects of it now that the tournament is happening in the UAE and not in India. I don’t see the reason to consult an additional advisor,” he explained.

India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all confirmed participants while the remaining spot will be contested between UAE, Singapore, Oman, Nepal, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Group A consists of India, Pakistan and the qualifier while Group B comprises Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

New Delhi: Former India All-Rounder & coach Madan Lal believes only a collective effort by the pace bowling trio of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav in the absence of the injured Jasprit Bumrah & Bhuvneshwar Kumar can ensure an Indian win in the series. Speaking to CricketNext, Lal said that for India to win the series, it was important that the bowling attack fired in unison and consistently over the Five Test matches.

“One Kumar or one Bumrah doesn’t win you a 5-game series,” Lal said. “You need all the bowlers to fire as a unit. There is no scope of putting the foot off the pedal even for one session. The fast bowlers will also need to ensure that they build enough pressure for the spinners to come in and strangle the English batsmen and spin a web over the hosts.”

Sharma is the leader of the pack with 81 Test matches under his belt and Lal feels that with the experience of a recent county stint behind him, he should be leading the attack.

“He has played county cricket during the IPL and he clearly knows the areas to bowl in when the captain hands you the ball in England,” Lal said. “He needs to focus on the right areas and get the ball to seam off the wicket. If he can bring the county experience into his game, Virat Kohli will have a smile on his face.”

Shami too has been a vital cog in the Indian bowling machinery till some off field issues saw him lose track. But Lal says that these things need to be kept aside when you are playing for the country.

“What is this mental aspect that everyone is talking about? He is an international player and he should be professional enough when he has been picked. If he wasn’t mentally a 100 per cent, he should have made the selectors aware and not made himself available for selection. There is no place for complacency at this level and he needs to show the world that he is back and belongs here,” he said.

Yadav’s recent performances have disappointed Lal, who believes his inconsistency hasn’t allowed him to turn his talent into performances.

“He had a brilliant IPL, but after that, he has been bowling beautifully one day and doing a 180 degree turn in the next game. Where is the consistency? He is supposed to be your match-winner. When does he start winning you the matches on foreign soil? There is no denying the fact that he has improved quite a lot in the last few seasons, but consistency is an area he needs to work on still,” he said.

While the pacers will have to lead the attack, Lal feels the spinners also have a vital role to play in this series.

“The heat wave has ensured that the pitches will be dry and take turn. But then, they can come into the game only after the fast bowlers have done a tidy job. The England batsmen will find the going tough against the Indian spinners and they must take advantage of that and keep piling the pressure. But like I said at the start, individual brilliance might win you a game, it won’t win you a series. A series has to be won by the whole bowling unit,” he signed off.