Having seen Indian quick Ishant Sharma reap excellent rewards of his stint in the County Championship before the start of the Test series against England, Sussex head coach Jason Gillespie has revealed how he helped the experienced fast bowler become a better wicket-taking weapon.
Ishant was on a 2-month county stint for Sussex, where Gillespie happens to be the head coach of the side and playing under the wonderful guidance of former Australian and one of the most well-renowned coach, helped Ishant immensely and the evidence can be seen from the way he is bowling currently.
“Sometimes he would stand there and stare if a decision hasn’t gone his way or he wasn’t happy with the delivery or whatever. He would slowly trudge back. It wasn’t ideal. So I would keep telling him to show some urgency. When he started to do it – that was the turning point for me, not any particular spell in a match" Gillespie was quoted revealing.
“I would keep telling him to show urgency. In county cricket, you had to bowl 96 overs in a day. So first of all, I had to sort it out in that respect. Secondly, it meant he wasn’t wasting his time thinking about irrelevant stuff." he said and added, “Get back to the top of the run up. Take a breath. Think what I am looking to achieve with this ball. What would allow me to bowl that particular delivery. Just crack on after that. And Ishant would run in and do that. No trudging, no drifting mentally, just crack on and bowl. It was good to see that he took it on board early and it showed me he cared.”
It is not a surprise that a change in length has coincided with Ishant taking more wickets. He bowls fuller than he use to and gets more wickets these days.
“It was clear what Ishant needed to do. Sometimes, he can bowl a little bit short and little wide and not test the batsmen’s front foot defense. The length was I think due to bowling a lot in Indian conditions. Even when you are trying to hit the top of the off stump in India, you can hit a back of length because of the (lack of) bounce." Gillespie said, "The key to bowling in the UK is the length. You have to challenge the stumps. That was what we worked. He needed to get the ball fuller, inviting the batsman to play off the front foot. And get them thinking about looking towards a positive stroke on the front foot. You are then bringing in all sorts of dismissals.”
One thing that has always stood out about Ishant is the effort. His work ethic and willingness to toil hard with immaculate consistency and control has made him the strength of India's bowling attacks.
This is what first impressed Gillespie too. He said, “I was impressed with his work ethic and attitude. He would ask a lot of questions and was very open to listening and taking in feedback. We worked on his seam and wrist position at release. The aim was not to get this ball swing in. Have an upright seam and we talked about adjustments needed and how to keep the wrists and fingers in a particular way. We also talked about how he could use the crease better – create different angles to keep the batsmen guessing.”
“I would say he is now playing to his strengths. Sometimes you end up trying too much. He has cut out all that. He now runs in to bowl, thinking about his strengths. That’s the difference really.” and concluded.
(Inputs from Indian Express)