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I believe in empowering players: B Arun

India’s Bowling Coach B Arun in a tete-a-tete on the versatility of the unit, his role and more…

Fit, agile, accurate are a few adjectives that describe Virat Kohli and his current Indian team. With all departments of the game duly covered, it makes this team one of the best in world cricket as it stands firm as No.1 Test team and joint No.1 in ODIs.

While the batting prowess has been on display for a while, the bowling unit has come to the fore off late with some exceptional performances and revelations.

Legends of the game call the current Indian bowling unit as one of the best and versatile line-up with a lot of young guns pitching in with some spellbinding performances.

From a debutant picking up four crucial wickets against world-class batsmen and changing the course of the game to another pace bowler who picked up the most wickets in a bilateral series featuring five matches, the young guns have come on in leaps and bounds.

We at bcci.tv, caught up with Team India’s bowling coach, Mr. B Arun and found out more about the current bowling setup, rotation policies and more….


You were a part of the coaching team a couple of years ago and you came back this year. What do you make of this Indian team, especially the bowling unit?

I am honoured to be a part of this Indian team. It just feels like you’ve never left this team. There was a year’s gap, but having worked earlier with the same team and coming back again this year feels like you’re home again. What I make of this team is that it is probably one of the most versatile bowling attacks India has ever had. Extremely talented, which could suit any conditions.

Cricket pundits call this bowling unit as one of India’s best with the armory equally poised in Test cricket and limited overs. Your thoughts?

Like I mentioned that this is India’s most versatile bowling attack. Each one is different. If you look at the four fast bowlers we have, each one is very unique. Umesh Yadav is very good with the new ball and the old ball as he reverses it well.

Ishant Sharma has got the extra bounce, which makes him that potent.

Mohammed Shami has one of the best seam positions in world cricket.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar can move the ball both ways and they all do it at a very good pace, which is close to 140 plus all the time. That makes each one of them extremely potent and also the fact that we have Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the Test matches who are amongst the top 5 spinners in the world. They are backed up by Kuldeep Yadav who’s an upcoming and talented bowler. So, this augurs very well for the Indian team.

Sir, Bhuvi recently mentioned about your contribution to the bowling setup and how it’s invaluable. Tell us more about it.

My job is to give feedback to the players, most often what they are actually doing compared to what they think they are doing; they are two different things. So, my job is to bridge that gap and the way you do it is by empowering them, make them more aware of what they are doing. Their arm positions, their body positions, release and things like that for which I effectively use videos to give them the feedback and once they understand those positions well, it’s very easy for them to get back to their basics.

You are one of the unsung heroes of the coaching unit. We only here the prominent whistles during the training sessions, but very little is known about you as a person. What do you have to say about it?

I guess you hear the whistles, which I blow during the nets session, but my job being one of the members of the support staff is related to doing the backdoor work. I will only strive harder to give the bowlers better feedback. If there is one thing that I believe in, it is empowering the players. They have the skill, they have the fitness and once they understand themselves more, it gives them the best chance to go out there and succeed.

Coming back to India’s bowling, if you were to pick up a few recent spells that impressed you the most, what would they be?

On the basis of recent spells, I would say that the Test match in Kandy against Sri Lanka when the fast bowlers bowled on a placid wicket, they looked really quick.

Especially, Shami and Umesh Yadav. They were brilliant and in fact, the Sri Lankan team said that for a minute they thought they were playing in England. Shami was clocking 145 plus throughout and that is probably one of the best spells that I have seen him bowl.

Also, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s spell against Australia in the ODI here in Kolkata. These would probably be my pick of the spells.

You have made clear the rotation policy will continue as it is keeping in mind the number of matches India has been playing through the year. Will it continue for a while now?

Yes, it should continue as it has worked very well for us as it keeps the bowlers fresh. It’s not easy to play all forms of the game and remain fresh throughout. It gives specialist bowlers a chance to perform in each format and this way, we also have a great pool of bowlers to choose from and they could fill in for the gap anytime we want them to. 

Rajlaxmi Arora

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Rahul Dravid sir has asked me to trust my game: Shreyas Iyer

After his maiden T20 call-up, the Mumbai batsman looks forward to joining Team India

Shreyas Iyer, a stylish batsman, has been making his presence felt with consistent performances across formats in the domestic circuit as well as with some impressive knocks for India ‘A’. The lad from Mumbai was recently also appointed captain for India ‘A’ against New Zealand ‘A’ and also for Board President’s XI.

The day before the third round of the Ranji Trophy 2017-18, Iyer received a call-up to India’s T20I squad against New Zealand. While reflecting on the remarkable moment, Mumbai’s top-order batsman told bcci.tv, “I actually came to know (first heard) when I was walking back to the dressing room (at the Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy, BKC) after practice. Few of the journalists were congratulating me... wishing me. I have been receiving the news previously as well so I wasn’t that excited. I just wanted to first make sure that I have received (the correct news) and it is official, so I was waiting for it and after that I was really happy.”

The youngster had the opportunity to be a part of the Indian dressing room, albeit briefly when he was named in the Test squad for the fourth Test against Australia in March 2017. “Anyone who starts playing for any club, his dream is to play for the country and getting there (dressing room) was like a dream come true. I have worked hard for it.

“It was a really nice experience to share the dressing room with all the legends. The day before the match, I had a chat with Virat (Kohli). We discussed about their bowlers – they (Australia) had a really good bowling line-up. I had also played against them in one practice game. It was just like a (another) new day. Since I have been playing in the IPL against many good players and in front of so many people, it wasn’t a nervous situation for me, but to be part of Team India was a great feeling,” he said while looking back on the occasion.

Although he wasn’t part of the playing XI, Iyer got an opportunity to showcase his fielding in Dharamsala. “It was really special getting a run out. My coach told me, ‘Go on the field and get us a wicket. It could be a catch or a run out.’ So, getting a run out was a really special thing; to do something to contribute little bit for the team as well. I really enjoyed that moment,” he recalled. 

Asked whether playing against national sides in practice games, representing India ‘A’ has been different, given that he has played against and with international players in the Indian Premier League as well, Iyer said, “It’s not at all different because we have also travelled to South Africa and played in those conditions, so it is kind of a similar feeling to play against a national side which comes from outside. It is challenging for them because when they come play away from their country, we are on the top, we have an advantage (but) we also have the pressure to perform for the team and see to it that we don’t lose a single game. So, it was a great experience. Luckily, I captained in two of the games and did well. It gave me more maturity and responsibility in all three departments – fielding, appointing bowlers (strategising) and batting as well.”

Iyer’s consistency and ability to adapt has also been impressive. Discussing the work put in to develop the crucial qualities, the batsman said, “After a bad patch or lean patch, you would say after last year’s IPL, I realised that I shouldn’t take advise from everybody or rather everybody who talks about my batting. I shouldn’t listen to everyone. I need to trust myself, trust my batting. I need to back myself. Whenever I go on to the field, I decide that I am going to back my instincts and then whatever the result is, I am going to accept it. What I learn from the ground is really important and that has really helped me throughout the season. I am just following my processes.”

The youngster continues to work on himself during breaks. “Whenever I get time, I work with Pravin (Amre) sir regarding technique and skills. And Rahul (Dravid) sir has been a great support for me in the India ‘A’ side. He is more into the mental aspect. He has asked me trust my game because I have been really playing well lately; and he believes that I have a good capacity to play at the higher level,” he mentioned.

Iyer got off to a good start to the 2017-18 season with crucial knocks on the India ‘A’ tour to South Africa. “It (the performance) has boosted my confidence. Winning the finals against South Africa ‘A’ (in the Tri-series where he scored 140 not out) and playing a match winning knock. I didn’t score that well in the first few games, but I was really batting well. I knew that once I get a good start, I have to convert it big and as long as I stay at the wicket, my team is going to win. That was my thought process and I stuck to it and it resulted in a good win and a good series as well.”

On back of performances and diligent efforts, Iyer now hopes to wear the blue jersey and a take step forward towards playing at the next level. “It is again going to be a learning process. I am just going to stick to my process and no matter what comes my way, I am going to accept it and just enjoy the moment. (I) Just (want to) go there, trust myself and enjoy whatever comes my way,” he concluded.  


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