Despite being one of the most consistent fast bowlers in home conditions, Umesh Yadav has never taken his place in India squad for granted. And it’s not just because he wouldn’t want to become callous but also because he has seldom been given a consistent run, a fact that keeps playing on his mind. Also Read - Cricket: Ramesh Powar Returns as Head Coach of Indian Women's Cricket Team, Replaces WV Raman
While he would love to get more chances, the feeling of negativity has given way to a healthy mindset that will allow him to perform at his best whenever an opportunity falls his way. Also Read - Shafali Verma Set For WBBL Debut, Signs Contract With Sydney Sixers: Report
“Thoda kharaab, buraa toh lagta hai (I do feel bad) that you aren’t getting as many chances,” Umesh told The Indian Express. “I used to feel a bit down in the past about sitting on the sidelines and watching. But it’s important that you make yourself understand the situation. I realised that it’s not healthy if I slip into pity. That feeling isn’t good as you won’t be able to perform well when you get a chance.” Also Read - England Cricket Board Reports Big Loss in 2020-21 Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
It’s not that Umesh is being targeted unfairly. The current crop of India fast bowlers is regarded as one of the most fearsome attack in the world which hasn’t made things easier for Umesh, known for ability to swing at high pace.
“You can’t complain too much as the other three- Ishant (Sharma), (Mohammed) Shami and (Jasprit) Bumrah are bowling well. So I can understand that for a team management, getting the right balance wouldn’t be easy. All four of us are experienced bowlers,” the 32-year-old admits.
Since making his Test debut, Umesh has played 46 Tests and taken 144 wickets at 30.47.
Out of these, 28 have come at home in which he has 96 wickets at 24.54. However, when it comes to away Tests, the average shoots up to 42.33 in 18 matches where he has taken 48 wickets.
The record has him labelled as a best bowler in home conditions which Umesh terms as ‘unfair’.
“You do well in Indian conditions and you get a chhaap (image) like that,” he said. “It’s sort of unfair as if I get regular chances in overseas Tests, I would definitely do well. I hardly get two matches in a row. Unless you play more in those conditions, you will not learn more about those conditions.”
Again he talks about not slipping into negativity. “I have stopped bothering too much about all this. The benchmark in our team is high, and I just want to do well in whatever opportunity I get. You have to always keep your fitness levels high, think that you can play any time. If you get into negativity, you won’t find motivation to train and be fit,” he said.
That inconsistency is getting games regularly, Umesh says, affects the confidence.
That he has played just 75 ODIs since making his debut a decade ago gives an impression of him being a red-ball bowler.
Again, Umesh disagrees.
“I haven’t understood that,” the pacer wonders. “White or red, the skill lies in swinging the ball, na? I can do it as I have done it. Of course, the lengths will vary and that is obvious and down to cricketing intelligence. If I get a series of ODIs, I feel I can prove myself as a wicket-taking bowler. I do feel I haven’t been used properly by selectors in ODIs. Get a game here and there, then sit out for six months. It does get difficult. Career has never been stable. Always up and down. I did well at the 2015 World Cup, but then again out.”
But he has no qualms over how his career has shaped out.
“It’s been a dream journey. My father used to be a coal-mine worker. He wanted me to be a policeman and I too wanted a secure simple life. Here I am now playing for India. Years ago, I told my father to stop working and enjoy life for a change. Life has given me more than I have asked of it,” he said.