Former India paceman Venkatesh Prasad to some of the budding cricketers on the SNR Sons College grounds

“Work on the seam. That’s important for a pace bowler. Because the ball cuts through air and travels faster,” said former India paceman Venkatesh Prasad to some of the budding cricketers on the SNR Sons College grounds in Coimbatore on Monday.

A fine leg-cutter exponent the country has produced, Prasad spent a little over an hour training the young guns in the art of fast bowling. “Work on the wrist and the fingers,” he told an under-16 prospect. “Your hip and shoulder should be in line. Also, make sure your follow-through is straighter,” he told another.

In the city to take part in the cricket clinic organised by the Coimbatore District Cricket Association and Canara Bank (Coimbatore Circle), Prasad advised the coaches to allow the players bowl to their strengths. “Don’t make your bowlers follow a copy book style. Allow them to be natural. Sehwag may not have a great footwork but he has still scored two triple hundreds.”

There were quite few who worked that extra pace to impress the former paceman. But they failed miserably spraying the ball all over. “Don’t have the habit of bowling from the outside, bowl from the inside,” he said.

“This boy has got a good seam position, also a nice back foot and front foot landing,” he remarked about left-arm fast bowler N. Hariharan.

Prasad pointed out that every bowler had the same run-up. “Why? Are they all from the MRF Pace Academy?”

He was pleased that there are numerous talents coming from the districts of late. “Earlier, the city boys dominated but I am happy the scenario has changed. It’s good for the game.”

Prasad cited former India spinner Sunil Joshi as a fine example. “He comes from a small town close to Hubli. He travelled over 80 km every day, and his time begins at 3 a.m. His dedication paid off and he went on to play 20 Tests and 50 ODIs for the country.”

“If you have this will and want to work hard, you can do wonders. Also, when you spend so much time on the ground you need to make it count. You have lovely facilities here. All you need to give is your best shot,” he added.

“Who wants to play for India?” he asked the boys. And, everyone raised their hands. “Not all can make it to the team. Only those who sweat that extra bit can be there,” he quickly added.

Prasad also told the boys to concentrate on their studies. “Kindly do not neglect them. It is important. My son is mad about cricket but at home he studies hard. Only a smart student can play cricket. He can calculate the game well under pressure. Dravid, Srinath, Srikkanth and Kumble are all fine examples.”

He wished the bunch the best, posed for a few snaps, and moved on.

The boys were thrilled. “We were excited to meet him,” said N. Ajay. “I was a bit nervous, yet thrilled,” exclaimed R. Aditya.

“I got the vital tip to play the best ball bowled by a fast bowler,” said S. Radhakrishnan. “We consider it a great privilege in meeting him. He has also taken a look at our potential,” said Sanjay Raj, the CDCA U-16 skipper.

“It is a great opportunity for the boys. One small tip on leg-cutter or an off-cutter can make a huge difference for these boys,” said D. Lakshminarayanaswamy, the CDCA president.

“It is good for the boys and for the game as well,” said A.G. Gurusamy, its vice-president. “His words can inspire the youngsters,” chipped in V.R. Sivakumar, the CDCA vice-president.

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