“Nowadays, they want to be like Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami”: Lakshmipathy Balaji on flourishing Indian pace attack

In an interview, Balaji praised a current lot of Indian pace bowlers and weighed on the importance of managing the fast bowlers in order to keep them fresh.

In an interview with Cricket Next, former India pacer and current Chennai Super Kings (CSK) bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji talked in detail about a current lot of Indian pacers, their workload management, and its evolution. Excerpts –

Balaji pointed out how the scenario has changed in recent times due to the rise in stature of Indian pacers and underlined the variety on offer.
“Earlier, nine out of 10 youngsters wanted to become a Virat Kohli or a Sachin Tendulkar or an MS Dhoni. Nowadays, they want to be like Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami or Zaheer Khan. The importance of fast bowling is defined with Bumrah’s pace, Shami’s modern-day skill sets, Ishant Sharma’s huge experience,” said Balaji.

Balaji feels testing out more players increases the talent pool.
“At present, Shami and Bumrah are the most skilled pacers we have and we could play one at a time. Even Ishant could be rotated. There are other fast bowlers like Bhuvi, Shardul Thakur, Mohammad Siraj among others. In the bargain, you end up widening the talent pool; they perform with the same intensity. You need to manage the fast bowlers to be fresh and sustain them over a long period of time. You need to find a formula that makes them sustainable.”

Balaji observed that first-class level and Indian Premier League have opened the gates for a number of players.
“The current Indian pace attack has evolved over a period. There was a role model in Kapil Dev in the 1980s and later we had Manoj Prabhakar and Javagal Srinath. These people set the tone in the 1980s and 1990s as fast bowlers. Look at the number of players who have made their debuts in the last five or six years. It is large. They have a lot of opportunities across all formats.”

If you are able to get recognition at the first-class level or the IPL (Indian Premier League), you are not going to be ignored. Many missed out in the 1980s and 1990s. In the recent past, the best thing that has happened is the rotation of players. Good talent is hardly missed. The opportunities and talents are justified,” he said.

L Balaji and batting coach Michael Hussey tested positive for COVID-19 in the CSK camp just before IPL 2021 was suspended on May 4. Both have recovered from it.

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