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HomeSportsI would Bowl Yorkers to Kohli. 24 Out of 24: Jeff Thomson

I would Bowl Yorkers to Kohli. 24 Out of 24: Jeff Thomson


In what is a batter-dominated format, bowlers often struggle to make an impact on the outcome of T20 matches. While there is a lot more variation in bowling, including multiple types of slower balls, very few bowlers have been able to bowl well at the death with any reasonable success.

Someone like Jasprit Bumrah, for example, is worth his weight in gold because of his ability to bowl at the top and at the end. So, what should the bowlers do? What lengths should they bowl? Are bowlers overdoing things? Jeff Thomson, former Australia fast bowler, talks to Boria Majumdar about the art of fast bowling and what according to him bowlers should or can do against quality batters who are all batting with much improved bats in the modern game. Excerpts

Given how batter friendly the T20 format is, what would be your first advice to bowlers struggling to make an impact?

First thing you need to do is get rid of the notion that it is a batter-friendly format. If you think the batters have an upper hand or they are too good, you will always be on the backfoot. I had said something similar to Shardul Thakur some years back. I wanted him to be more aggressive. See how well he has done in recent times. Whoever the batter is, you need to believe you can get him out. That you are as good, come what may. You might have pace or you might have the ability to move the ball but if you don’t win the battle in the mind, you will never be able to win the battle on the field. The batter, whoever it is, is your enemy. Not literally but figuratively. You need to be aggressive enough when you bowl. You need to be relentless. That’s the first and foremost thing.

That’s the mental side of things. There is also the element of skill, which is also very important. Take someone like a Virat Kohli. He is batting at his best. How does a bowler bowl to him? It can’t just be mental.

When you bowl to someone like Kohli, you need to know that some days you might not win. But that’s not an excuse to feel hard done when you come up against him. Rather, you go harder than you would to anyone else. Give him balls he doesn’t want to face. Bowl to him in areas he doesn’t fancy. In my case, I had the advantage of being the fastest bowler in the world in my time. And if you ask me, I would bowl him yorkers. 24 out of 24 balls, I would bowl him yorkers. Keep a leg slip and a second slip at the boundary and keep bowling in the block hole. At my pace I’d want to see someone try the lap sweep or the paddle sweep. But that’s what I would do to him.

Bowlers have so much variety these days. Is it all necessary?

You can have all the variety but unless you are able to execute, they mean nothing. When you bowl to someone like Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli, you need to be at your best in terms of execution. You need to implement the plans well. Unless you do so they are good enough to feed off you. A limited bowler with better execution is always better than a talented bowler with great variety but poor execution. That’s what I have always believed.

Would you have wanted to bowl in T20 cricket given all these restrictions on bowlers, the powerplay and all else?

Absolutely, I would. The most important thing bowlers need to remember when they are playing this format is that they need to bowl just 24 balls. No one is asking them to bowl three or four spells like we did in Test cricket. They don’t have to bowl a long 10- over spell. All they need to do is bowl just four overs. So, the least they can do is be at their best from ball one. Go full steam in each of the 24 balls they bowl. They owe it to their team to do so. That’s why they are there. And if I had the opportunity, I would go flat out in every game I played knowing it is only a short burst that I have to bowl.

Would you say the quality of fast bowling has declined over time with T20 cricket becoming the dominant format?

I would say, slightly. What has resulted in this is the lack of consistency. Ask any bowler what ball will be most effective at the end of an innings. They will tell you it’s the yorker. Now ask them why can’t you bowl the same ball six times out of six? Why is it that one great yorker is followed by a hall volley or an over pitched ball? That’s where the problem is. Modern fast bowlers don’t know how to be consistent and as a result get carted around. All they need to do is get more consistent because some of them do have the skill sets required to do so.



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