It’s been a year since Zaheer Khan bid adieu to international cricket but the former left-arm pacer continues to inspire the current crop of international bowlers, including James
Anderson. The English pacer recently credited how Zaheer unknowingly helped him master the art of reverse swing. Zaheer, who was in Chennai for the launch of Tamil Nadu Premier League’s
(TNPL) Chepauk Super Gillies team, on Sunday (August 21), spoke on who impresses him the most in the current crop of bowlers, on how Twenty20 cricket has become a bowlers’ game and more. Excerpts:
How crucial is it for Tamil Nadu players to have a platform like TNPL?
I believe TNPL is a good platform for the youngsters to showcase their talent. The franchise owners of other leagues as well will be keeping an eye on the ones who do well in this competition.
Would you be interested in picking some of the talents who come out of TNPL in the Delhi Daredevils team?
(Laughs) Of course, it’s (selection) an administrative decision as there are rules and processes and if someone does well, then why not – since a good talent never goes unnoticed.
How much has someone like Mohammed Shami impressed you since his comeback? Would it be fair to preserve someone like him for the Tests alone?
I have always endorsed the theory that you play more games and across all formats. Once you bowl more, you tend to develop a bowling rhythm, and that’s extremely important.
In Shami’s case, he took time to recover from the injury and it’s nice to see him in good rhythm. Shami has always been a good talent. With regards to preserving him just for one format, I believe it’s an individual’s call as to how many matches he should play. When I was at the highest level, I preferred playing more matches all the time.
Would you be interested in taking up the Indian team bowling coach role?
I am right now focused on what I have on my plate. I am really focusing my energies on playing the next IPL season for Delhi Daredevils, and also on ProSport – a sports and fitness clinic. But, I am open to different roles and haven’t thought about it (bowling coach role). However, if an opportunity arises, I will think about it.
You reckon having a bowler as a coach (as in the case of Anil Kumble) changes the approach of the team?
When you play the role of a coach, the responsibility is definitely bigger. A good coach is a good coach, whether he is a batsman or a bowler. Obviously, what counts is an experience at the international level. It’s eventually up to the players to go out there and perform. A coach can do everything he can to prepare the players, and if he has got the exposure at the international level it definitely counts.
James Anderson credited you for unknowingly helping him explore the art of reverse swing. Your thoughts?
I really appreciate his comment, though I have never personally interacted with him. Anderson has been a great bowler for England and has been someone who had the ability to swing the ball and proved his capabilities across the globe.
Who among the current crop of players have caught your attention?
Someone like Mitchell Starc (has been impressive), and is shaping up to be a bowler who could be a good Test and limited-overs bowler. He is someone who is delivering in all formats of the game. For me, a bowler at the highest level should have the ability to pick wickets in bunches, which changes the course of the game and Starc seems to be doing that well.
T20 is often hailed as a batsmen’s game.What’s your advice to someone (in TNPL) who isn’t exposed much into this format of the game?
(On the contrary) Twenty20s are turning out to be a bowler’s game these days. There are a lot of tactical inputs which goes on during the course of a game and you actually see more and more bowlers being game-changers these days in T20s. As far as my advice goes, I would always say the one thing that never goes wrong in death overs in T20s is having a good yorker.