Khan was nowhere near his best during the four-Test series
India bowling coach Joe Dawes truly believes the bowlers are heading in the right direction, despite all the seamers putting up an appalling performance throughout the four-Test series against England.
However, Dawes brushed aside all the criticism and noted that pace bowler Zaheer Khan has the “best wrist in cricket” and still is one of the top six bowlers in international cricket today.
Despite recording a massive nine wicket win during the first Test at Ahmedabad, India could not continue their excellent form at home and crumbled under the pressure the England batsmen and bowlers put them under.
“I’ve been in this job nine months and it’s been challenging,” Dawes told bcci.tv. I believe that we’re making progress, although the results in this series say otherwise.
“I’ve spoken to the new selection committee about identifying a number of bowlers who we can invest on. This morning we sat down and made a rough list of bowlers for the T20s and ODIs to get things in place for them so that when they get into the team they’re ready. We have a close eye on the Ranji Trophy to look out for the guys who put their hands up so we can have a few more bowlers.
“We’ve spoken a lot about patience as a group. The two spinners [R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha] are quite young – they’ve only played a dozen Tests or so – and they’re still learning their craft at the moment. That’s why they have struggled with their consistency and we have talked about that. They’re gaining good education of the game at the moment and they’re working hard at their game. We’re improving and getting to where we want to be.”
With a majority of India’s quicks sidelined with injuries, Dawes noted that it was a big problem selecting which pace bowlers to pick for the series.
Despite Khan having only taken three wickets at an average of 60, Dawes has backed the veteran to regain his form and fitness ahead of the next Test series against Australia.
“We’ve had this joke going around in the change room that Zak’s back,” Dawes said. “I thought he wasn’t at his best against New Zealand and he’ll be the first to admit that. But he’s gone back and worked hard. He’s run himself into a bit of nick with his fitness and has started to get the ball through with some pace and get it to nip back. I truly believe that the time is not far away when he starts getting the wickets that he deserves.
“You watch the ball come out of his hand from purely technical point of view and it’s just beautiful. He keeps the seam up and hits the seam all the time, every time. He’s not as young as he once was and so he’s probably not as quick as well. Considering the conditions he has to bowl in most of the times, in the subcontinent, he’s got to be among the top six bowlers in the world today.”
Dawes also mentioned that he was pleased to have Ishant Sharma back in the lineup after the tall pace bowler was ruled out of action since January last year due to an ankle injury which required surgery to fix.
“He [Ishant] bowled in a Test match after a long time and I thought he did pretty well,” Dawes added. “He was unlucky not to get a wicket.
“He has worked hard to come back from his injury and you can see the changes in his action. He’s much taller now and doesn’t fall over while angling the ball in. The next step is to give him a consistent outswinger and that’s coming well.
“The plus with him is that he’s still a very young man and he’s already played 45 Test matches; he’s an experienced cricketer. He’s now only 24 and his body will learn to endure the rigours of fast bowling with time and he’ll only get better from here.”
Pace bowler Umesh Yadav has also impressed Dawes with the amount of swing he can get with the old ball.
“I’m happy with where he’s going; disappointing for him to be injured but we have things in mind to put in place for him when he comes back; just tweak his action a little bit more and continue to help the young bloke get stronger and fitter,” Dawes said.