Umesh Yadav has been a revelation in the last year and has rightfully worn the tag of being India’s pace spearhead, especially after surgery kept Mohammed Shami out of the game. And Umesh says that it has been a wonderful journey, having held the first leather ball only at the age of 20. Speaking about his journey from the bylanes with a tennis ball to playing for the country, Umesh says that learning at every step is the way forward.
“When I started off, I used to play with tennis and rubber balls. So, I had a good idea on how to use it. But I found the leather ball hard to comprehend because I had started playing with it at an older age. Initially for the first couple of years I found the going very tough with the leather ball. Some balls would swing away while some would automatically swing in.
“I would bowl it straight and while some balls would come in, others would swing away and I would be confused as to what is happening. Then my coaches told me that it was a normal thing and not something to worry about. The coaches told me that things would fall in place with time and I should first focus on bowling in the right areas. Initially I would be wayward but you have to realise that I first held a leather ball at the age of 20,” he told BCCI.tv.
Fitness has been one area Umesh has worked on tremendously and says that it is a major area that needs to be focused on as a fast bowler looking to use pace as the USP.
“It was easy at the start because there weren’t too many matches and I didn’t play too many Tests. But as I started playing more, that is when I realised the importance of fitness. Also it was important to follow the schedule and the training routine. If you don’t work on the recovery aspect, then it becomes very difficult as u can survive for a while, but after that your back starts becoming stiff, then your shoulder, hamstring and glut power. The body might be naturally strong, but if you don’t strengthen it, it starts collapsing after a point of time. So, as a fast bowler, whenever I get an opportunity, I work on recovery and strengthening myself. I know it is a must for me if I have to stay for long. Just like the engine needs oil, I need to train. If I don’t do that, I won’t be able to go the distance.
“Right from childhood I had the desire to bowl fast. As I started growing up, I started to also get a fair idea as to what is the art of fast bowling. It wasn’t very easy for me, considering from where I started. When I got the chance, I grabbed it with both hands and also realised I had the ability to do well. But my USP was pace. I always knew there are many who can bowl in the 130-135kph bracket. But I also knew that if you can consistently hit the 140kph mark, then you definitely you have something different and you will get an opportunity,” he said.
Commenting on the last season, definitely the brightest point in the pacer’s career, Umesh said: “I had always heard that spinner dominate in Asian conditions and I knew the last season was my opportunity to change that. We as a bowling unit wanted to prove that we can make the impact required to change the mindset of the people. The idea was to pick a couple of wickets with the new ball and then return when the ball starts to reverse. As fast bowlers we share notes and ideas and there is a strong bond among us. For us, the team comes first.”