Right arm-pacer Mohammed Shami has stated that earlier India wasn’t blessed with good fast bowling stocks and cultural transformation is the real reason why the contemporary side led by Virat Kohli is so highly successful.
In the last two-three years, Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah, have been raved over their exploits in all conditions in Test cricket. In limited-overs cricket as well, a lot of young and talented fast bowlers have been emerging through the ranks.
“There is a difference in culture in the teams of the past and now. There used to be one or two bowlers who could clock 140kmph regularly. We have to accept that we didn’t have a fast-bowling culture in the past. But now touchwood, we have 5-6 bowlers who can regularly bowl at 140-plus,” said Shami on India Today’s TV show ‘Salaam Cricket 2020’.
“They have the pace, swing, bounce; everything is there. We are happy that this unit has great bonding, we crack jokes on the ground stay together, and the biggest thing now is that opponents now think a lot about what kind of pitches they want to offer the Indian team when we travel abroad.”
Speaking about his journey, from toiling under the scorching sun for Bengal to now being one of India’s leading wicket-takers, Shami said it wasn’t a smooth ride for him.
“When I was new to domestic cricket, even in Ranji Trophy, people used to call me lazy and moody. But when this 2.0 tag was attached to me, they have been asking me what have I done differently, what has been the change? They used to pull my leg earlier by calling me lazy, but my performance even back then was fine. But now when my performance has improved, with the 2.0 tag, the questions have changed.”
“I never targetted playing for India because I had been rejected several times from the UP team. I was just determined to play the Ranji Trophy. Now they ask me what have you done to change yourself. I used to perform well then, but now with Shami 2.0, they ask me what has changed?”
Shami further expressed his displeasure at ICC’s decision to impose a ban on the usage of saliva as a ball-applicator amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, mentioning the imbalance that will be created between the two main disciplines of the game.
“Bowlers have always had to bear the brunt,” Shami said. “When T20 format was introduced it became a form of entertainment for the fans where the bowlers took a beating while the batsmen made merry. Now saliva might be banned in Test cricket. I’ve started to feel scared now; I hope people don’t forget reverse swing.
“We have been used to this since childhood, and it has a huge contribution in the reverse swing. Now it will be very difficult and challenging,” the speedster added.
“We use sweat to make the ball heavier and softer, but reverse swing needs saliva, it keeps the ball harder, shinier and the ball reverses also. Now the challenge will be not to use our saliva, something which we are used to doing.”