Umesh Yadav’s rise as a fast bowler of genuine promise from Vidarbha — in the back-waters of Indian cricket — has been nothing short of fascinating.
His value to the Indian side as a quick, impact bowler with a chest-on action is immense. The selectors have wrapped the 25-year old, who has already suffered two back injuries, in cotton wool for upcoming Tests. His work-load is being monitored.
More than his 32 wickets in nine Tests at 32.50, the manner in which he has hustled the batsmen, often beating them for speed, has been impressive.
The Hindu caught up with Yadav during the South-Central Duleep Trophy semifinal here recently.
How he first learnt to bowl fast
I remember bowling with soft tennis balls in the street. You hardly got any bounce, and you had to bowl quick and beat the batsmen in the air to get wickets.
Actually, I learnt to bowl yorkers that way.
His strengths as a bowler
I can swing the new ball away, and reverse the older ball. I have a useful short-pitched delivery.
Whether he would cut short his speed because of the two back injuries he has suffered
No. Speed is my strength. If I reduce my pace I will become like the others. In Australia, they say that if a paceman has not had a stress fracture of the back, he is not fast (laughs).
God did not make us to bowl fast, with all that stretching, bending and twisting. When you do so, you have to be prepared to go through the ordeal.
I consistently bowl around 145 kmph. I have bowled over 150.
I like the feeling when the ball hits the batsman’s helmet. In my heart, mind and body, I am a fast bowler.
Pitches slowing down around the world
I have seen matches of the 80s and 90s on television. There used to be so much grass on the pitch and so much more pace and bounce. That is not there now. I got five wickets in Perth last year, but even that pitch, supposed to be the quickest in Australia, was slower than I expected.
Challenges of adapting to different formats
Each format is different, and a bowler should adapt. But the basics remain the same.
Variety helps. I am learning to bowl cross seam; when the ball hits the shiny side, it skids through quicker.
On him remaining a simple person with rustic charm despite money, fame and glamour
I come from a family of farmers. I know my roots. I never forget where I come from.
Something that inspired him in his life
I saw the movie Three Idiots. It had a strong message: follow your dreams. I did that.
His hero as a fast bowler
Javagal Srinath. He was a quick bowler. Gave us belief.
A moment that he cherishes as a fast bowler
Ricky Ponting is a fantastic puller. So when I struck him on the helmet with a short ball, it gave me plenty of satisfaction.