After powering Delhi to a sensational seven-wicket win Round 3 Ranji Trophy encounter versus Hyderabad, Ishant Sharma gave credit to former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie for helping him to work on his weaknesses and emerge as a better bowler. Ishant picked up an eight-wicket match haul to script a sensational win for his stateside in the prestigious domestic tournament.
Speaking to the reporters at the Feroz Shah Kotla after the Ranji Trophy match, Ishant confessed that he was told about his problems in the past by many but there was only one who provided him with the solution. The Delhi-born pacer named Gillespie as his true mentor who provided him with all the answers he was seeking for the longest time.
Ishant also feels that ‘better communication’ with years of experience between him, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav also worked wonders for the country’s finest pace unit under Virat Kohli’s captaincy. “The problem in India is that everybody tells you about the problem but no one tells you the solution. Now knowing the solution is an important aspect,” Ishant said on Saturday.
“I have realised that maybe one or two people worked on the solutions. The problem everyone can tell you but one who is a good coach will tell you about solutions,” said the veteran of 96 Tests and 292 wickets.
So what was his problem? “A lot of people would tell me that I need to increase the pace of my fuller deliveries. No one told me how to do that? It was when I went to play county cricket, Jason Gillespie gave me the solution,” said Ishant, who played for Sussex under Gillespie’s coaching.
“Gillespie told me that in order to increase the pace in fuller deliveries, you don’t just release it but hit the deck so that it should target the knee roll,” he said.
Ishant also explained how the former Australian pacer changed his training methods to get better results. “Like first, I would put cones (on good length spots) during nets. But that’s okay for a youngster, who wants to get his areas right but for someone like me, I need to see where my ball is finishing rather than where it’s pitched. The practice is almost the same but the outcome is different. Gillespie’s instructions ensured that my fuller delivery is faster now.”
Ishant played a lot of Test matches under Mahendra Singh Dhoni and there were six or seven fast bowlers being rotated at that time, compared to three or four now.
“Look during Dhoni’s time, some of us didn’t have that much of experience. Also, the fast bowlers would be rotated a lot, that’s also a reason that consistency as a group couldn’t be achieved.
“If you know that you are a pool of 3-4 fast bowlers (now with Jasprit Bumrah), that increases communication. Earlier, there would be 6 to 7 bowlers, communication wasn’t there.
“But when Virat took over, we have all by then gained fair amount of experience and that helped. Now when you play more, stay in that dressing room more, spend more time with team compared to family, discussions are free and frank. And then you start enjoying when you go out there in the middle. That’s a different feeling,” said the man who will be the second pacer after Kapil Dev to complete 100 Tests.
Ishant now bowls in short bursts with increased pace and it has happened after he stopped bowling his stock back of length deliveries which was a routine under Dhoni, who used him for long spells. “From the beginning, I got a tag and people started calling me workhorse, workhorse. So seniors at that time would tell me that you need to bowl 20 overs and if you even give 60 runs, you will still end up getting three wickets.
“So that works on your mind that you have to bowl 20 overs. So you bowl back of length deliveries and batsmen start leaving those till they get set and then come back to attack you. And you end up giving away 80 runs.”
So was this role of a ‘workhorse’ given to him? “No role was given to me but that became a role. Your job is to get batsmen out whenever you can. I was not experienced enough earlier but now I know my job.”
Purely because of his longevity, his name is taken in the same breath as Kapil or Zaheer Khan, the latter also being a guiding force for the better part of his career. “I am not into comparisons with Zak paa or Kapil paaji to be honest. They have performed a lot for the country.
“As far as I am concerned, I can tell you whatever experience I have gained, I try and pass it onto the juniors. That’s important. So that in coming years, there is another fast bowler who can play for Delhi. That would make me proud,” added Ishant.