September 20, 2006

Dileep Premachandran at the 2006 DLF Cup

Thommo's helping hand

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England Masters v Australia Masters, Trent Bridge Nottingham 1 July 2001
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Even as his team-mates walked back to the pavilion to get changed for the game ahead, Irfan Pathan remained on the field, bowling at one stump. After more than two years of being India's first choice new-ball bowler, he now faces the arduous task of regaining the team management's confidence, after a succession of insipid displays with the ball.

Greg Chappell, who has never shied away from expressing his faith in Pathan's allround ability, stood a couple of paces back and watched, and there was another interested onlooker. Jeff Thomson bowled a fair few miles quicker than Pathan in his '70s heyday, and was one half of a duo - a certain DK Lillee was the other - that decimated even West Indies at their peak. Chappell captained that legendary side, and had little hesitation in calling on Thommo's services with his pace bowlers struggling for rhythm and accuracy.

Thomson had words with Munaf Patel and Sreesanth, but concentrated most of his efforts on Pathan, even standing halfway down the pitch to see how the ball was coming out of the hand. The position of the leading arm was analysed, as was the timing of release, and Pathan appeared to be listening intently during a session that lasted close to an hour.

On the tour of the Caribbean, Chappell had drafted in Andy Roberts to take a look at Pathan. And though there was no immediate upswing in his fortunes, he can only benefit from the advice of some of the greatest bowlers to have played the game.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dileep Premachandran
Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.

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