Dubai: As the likes of Jasprit Bumrah & Co are bracing up to break into their strides again with the sports facilities opening up in India, T.A.Sekar, the quintessential ‘guru’ of fast bowlers in the country has a word of caution for them.
‘‘The fast bowlers should be very careful when they get back into business as they have not bowled for more than two months, otherwise there is a likelihood of them picking up injuries,’’ said Sekar, now the President of Cricket Operations with IPL franchise Mumbai Indians.
Now 63, the former Indian pace bowler of the Eighties has - in a way - spent a lifetime coaching and mentoring fast bowlers. Starting as a deputy to the legendary Australian Dennis Lillee in the MRF Pace Foundation, Sekar had groomed the likes of Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, Zaheer Khan and is still as focused on passing on the finer points of his art to the current crop of fast bowlers in the country.
Speaking to Gulf News in a telephonic interview, Sekar said it would take at least three to four weeks for the new ball bowlers to get back to what he called bowling fitness. ‘‘The current generation of players are a lot aware and most have been doing pre-weights traHarining, but then the coordination goes for a toss with such a long break from the sport. Unless they are in a position to go out there and bowl for eight to 10 sessions, the bowlers would not know where they stand,’’ he observed.
‘‘England bowlers like Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes have started individual practice sessions while the South Australian team has also started practice as they had been out of action since February. There should be physical trainers to monitor the progress of the fast bowlers, and in India most of our main bowlers have personal trainers now,’’ Sekar said.
The season ahead for the Indian cricketers still wears a very open look, with the overall situation of the coronavirus pandemic across the globe having a direct bearing on the fate of Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup. The earliest Virat Kohli & Co can look at a resumption of international cricket is if their white ball series takes place against South Africa in August, while the fate of Indian Premier League 2020 also hangs in balance.
Commenting on the abundance of fast bowling talent at India’s disposal, Sekar felt Bumrah stands out as a matchwinner. ‘‘Indian cricket has been extremely fortunate to get back Bumrah’s services after his surgery on the knee. It’s the marvel of modern surgery that he was back to bowling in the last IPL barely five months after his surgery - a far cry from our times when a knee surgey meant a bowler’s career was virtually over,’’ Sekar said.
It’s the marvel of modern surgery that he (Bumrah) was back to bowling in the last IPL barely five months after his surgery - a far cry from our times when a knee surgey meant a bowler’s career was virtually over
‘‘Hardik Pandya, on the other hand, had been a complete package with his intelligent seam bowling and ability to strike the ball hard. He has come out of his lower back injury well and looked in good shape in the D.Y.Patil tournament earlier this year before the cricketing action was stopped,’’ said Sekar, who had been associated with the Delhi Capitals franchise for a long period before moving to Mumbai Indians.
While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has invested a lot in the area of physical conditioning and fitness of the cricketers, the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru could not really live up to the expectations of providing a one-stop solution of the players - more importantly pace bowlers who have broken down with injuries. There have been cases where bowlers have preferred to do their rehab work under their personal trainers, while there have been hushed allegations of wrong diagnosis of injuries.
Admitting that more needs to be done, Sekar hoped things will change at the NCA with Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, and Rahul Dravid as NCA director coming together on the same page. ‘‘The two have a blueprint ready for a revamped NCA and land has been also earmarked there on way to the airport. Ganguly, as a captain, had re-written the history of Indian cricket while Dravid is capable of doing what Rodney Marsh had done for Cricket Australia,’’ he said.
‘‘I am sure that the duo will do what it takes to take the NCA to greater heights,’’ he added.