In the last two years, it would seem that India have earmarked Umesh Yadav for long-form cricket. The 29-year old fast bowler has played 19 out of 24 Tests in this period, but only 21 of the 40 ODIs, and he might just prefer it that way.
“The thing with ODIs is that there will always be games. I enjoy playing Tests more,” Umesh said at a press conference at his home ground in Nagpur. “You have time in a Test and there are situations and match simulations (in the preparations) to know how to respond to a situation. I like those challenges. I like that because it increases confidence and also makes a bowler more accurate. You know the line and length you need on a particular surface and you focus on that. I am more than happy to play as a Test bowler.”
However, Umesh clarified that he was not quite ready to start picking and choosing formats. “Playing both Tests and ODIs is good and particularly for me, because I am at an age when the more cricket I play the better it is for me,” he said. “I don’t want to be at a stage where I am saying I don’t want to play this format or that, I want to keep going. I would love to play in all formats.”
To a certain extent, India now have enough seamers of quality and variety that they can manage their workloads better without losing their potency as a team. At the start of the Bengaluru ODI, Australia captain Steven Smith rated Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as the world’s best death bowlers in 50-overs cricket. And over the course of a long home season in 2016-17, Mohammed Shami and Umesh won praise from their own captain, who said they were among the top five quicks in Test cricket.
Separating them to play the respective formats they are good at seems not only the logical choice, but also helps the players function at peak fitness. “I think it’s good for the fast bowlers,” Umesh said. “If you continuously play Test cricket, it’s lot of load for fast bowler. Playing in sub-continent conditions is very tough. Slow wicket, no pace and bounce for fast bowlers, you have to give your 100 per cent. It’s very hard for the fast bowlers to come to one-day cricket with the same intensity [immediately afterwards]. It is better you get some rest. It also helps you recover from small niggles. It’s a good concept as we get proper rest and look after ourselves properly.”
Umesh also felt that fast bowlers could not afford to become full-fledged Test or one-day specialists because of their fitness needs. “If you are playing a lot of Test cricket, say 15-20 Tests in a year, then you have to decide what to do. Because you can’t otherwise say I only want to play Tests – there are fewer Tests in the year, so what will you do the rest of the time?
“It is important for a player’s body to have match practice. We say it’s good to keep practicing and everything will be fine, but that’s not the case. Until you don’t play matches, your physical form is not ideal and you don’t have that match-situation awareness. When you’re bowling in a match, you have to use your whole body and you know what lines you have to bowl. In the nets you do practice but at that time, you don’t really understand where the ball is going and what a situation is. There’s a big difference between bowling to batsmen on your team and the opposition’s batsmen.
“So if there is a situation where we are playing four Tests against a team and then there are ODIs, I prefer playing Tests first. The way my body responds and how fit I am, then I will say I am ready. But there is no such thing for me that I will play only Tests or only ODIs. If you don’t accept all the challenges in cricket, then what are you a fast bowler for?”
Source: ESPN Crickinfo