November 7, 2010

Indian domestic cricket

Hanumangarh, India's fast-bowling factory

Aakash Chopra

I'm quite fascinated with the interviews teen sensation Deepak Chahar is busy giving, one after the other. People want to know what he eats, or whether he can bowl as fast as Brett Lee, or which IPL team he would like to play for. What no one seems to be asking, though, is where Deepak Chahar comes from. The answer might help us understand the events which have led to the making of the young prodigy.

It's always easy to form an opinion by just looking at the surface. Since he's a frequent sight at the NCA, and been playing age-group tournaments for quite a while, it's convenient to give credit, for once, to the otherwise much criticized system. You have to dig a little deeper to know the real story.

Chahar belongs to a district called Hanumangarh in Rajasthan. What Sansarpur is to hockey, Hanumangarh is to fast bowling. They have been producing fast bowlers by the dozen and the credit must go to one man who has dedicated himself to the craft, Navendu Tyagi. His passion for the skill compensates for the lack of infrastructure in a small district. He is a hard task master and making players physically fit is his top priority. He ensures that his wards go through a rigorous cardio routine, which, at times, includes going for a run at 2 pm in scorching desert heat. He generally accompanies them, either on foot, or on his old bike.

He also takes his pupils to a summer camp in Rishikesh every year. While the kids pay for their travelling expense, Tyagi takes care of everything else including the boarding and lodging. They stay in a basic dharamshala and the day starts at 5am with yoga. Then they run in the hills, followed by some strengthening exercises using their own body weight in the evening. It may be preferable to choose a place with modern facilities, but since that's not financially feasible, a getaway to Rishikesh during the peak summer season is the next best thing.

The coach also takes great care in preparing the practice tracks in Hanumangarh. It always has a good covering of grass and decent bounce to keep the pace men interested. Slowly but steadily his efforts have started bearing fruit - most of the fast bowlers representing Rajasthan at various age group levels now come from Hanumangarh. In fact, there are so many of them, they have started lending bowlers to other districts.

I am told that there was a time when nine out of the playing XI were fast bowlers in the district's team. Deepak would either open or bat at No. 3 for his side, which did well to improve his batting skills, but obviously meant trouble for the team. They would regularly dismiss the other side for a paltry total, but would get out for an even lower total. The district got relegated twice to be in the lowest division. Nobody, though, seems to complaining.

If one man's dedication and passion can do so much, a collective effort towards a particular goal could easily do wonders. What say?


Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by john justin on (December 28, 2010, 4:05 GMT)

I have seen his(Deepak) bowling is his debut match. He swing the ball very well, but his speed is very less to get success in international matches. If he improves in his speed, surely he will he will play for India very soon. Afterall I find him a good bowler.

Posted by kk sharma on (November 23, 2010, 2:48 GMT)

fast bowlers factory hanumaangarh.aakash bhai theek theek laga lo.kindly tell me the names of another products from that factory. deepak is a talented medium pace bowler who has the ability to swing the ball both the ways,we should be aware to whom we call fastbowler ,a fast bowler is called who can bowl more than 140km avg is fast medium bowler. he is a natural talented bowler .but he has to learn so many delevaries like the perfect yorker,the solid bouncer,the change of pace,the slower one,use of the crease,out going balls from return crease,the ability to raise the balls from just before the good length,the wicket taking ability with the old ball,the ability to learn the track and bowl accordingly, the ability to get the cues of a batsman means what error batsman is having in his batting,the bouncer from return crease,the round the wicket effective bowling,always keeping the batsman in confussion with his stock balls and with line and length,the perfect reverse swing

Posted by sharath on (November 21, 2010, 7:59 GMT)

it is because of coaches like this gentleman that indian cricket is unearthing such great talents,its time for BCCI to grow above sponsorship deals and ipl,and start helping people at the grassroot level

Posted by Ambrish on (November 16, 2010, 15:05 GMT)

Agree with the comments about Hanumangarh being prematurely called a "pace factory". At the same time, it is important to encourage the likes of Coach Navendu Tyagi, especially if they consistently produce good results.

@P Subramani:

Rajasthan has produced a few successful medium pacers, other than Raj Singh Dungarpur. The most well-known medium pacer to come out of Rajasthan was Kailash Gattani, who was distinctly unlucky not to don India colors. In 109 matches for Rajasthan, he took 396 wickets at an average of 19.91 with 20 5-wicket hauls and 5 10-wicket hauls.

Playing for Madhya Bharat and Rajasthan, Raj Singh Dungarpur got 206 wickets, at an average of 28.84 with 5 5-wicket hauls and 1 10-wicket haul.

Also, G.R.Sunderam's son, Pradeep Sunderam (born in Jaipur), a right-arm medium fast bowler, was fairly successful for Rajasthan. In 40 matches, he took 145 wickets at an average of 28.78, with 11 5-wicket hauls and 3 10-wicket haul.

Posted by Gourab on (November 13, 2010, 19:27 GMT)

It is too early to say that Deepak Chahar is a Bowling sensation.I've seen the match Live on TV,& if I'm not wrong..his fastest ball was below 135 kmph..that's simply not enough for excel in International Arena..I wish Deepak to stride forward towards a very successful career..& 1 more thing,plz keep him away for atleast 2years from this INDIAN PAISA LEAGUE..IPL,isn't it??

Posted by krish on (November 12, 2010, 17:21 GMT)

Dear Mr.Akash, Your skill of looking at important and basic things which contributed to the success stories of people is really great. This is another example. The icing on the cake is your flowing style of analysis and description. Keep it up.

Posted by Manish on (November 12, 2010, 9:30 GMT)

Aakash chopra was a good cricketer.but lndian team needed best cricketer TO BRINg succes

Posted by P Subramani on (November 12, 2010, 4:55 GMT)

Hanumangarh on the India Pakistan border cannot be put on par with Sansarpur near Jullundur in regard to producing stars in a particular type of sport. Sansarpur is part of hockey folklore because some of our greatest hockey players at least when India was on top in hockey, were from this place. Located close to Jullundur Cantonment, it is a village where there is a traditional flavour for hockey. If Hanumangarh is indeed such place for producing fast bowlers then India will be well served. The point is in the past which are the big names from this place. In fact from Rajasthan itself, I can remember only the late Raj Singh Dungarpur as a purveyor of pace bowling. G R Sunderam too used to represent Rajasthan at one point in time but he was actually from erstwhile Bombay.

Posted by Yasir Hasan on (November 11, 2010, 6:43 GMT)

Fast bowler from India...really... :-p.... I think India has raised quite a few potentially good bowlers in last 5-10 years... but the problem lies either with too much attention, or lack of mentors, I can't say for sure. Their potential never materialize and after huge hype they are sidelined for good.

Posted by chennaicric on (November 10, 2010, 13:31 GMT)

In western countries winter months are so cold that they need indoor gyms and excercise machines to prepare their bodies for fast bowling and other sporting activities. India with its lovely weather all year round outdoor activties are natural ways to training ones body. Running will improve stamina.Our age old YOGA is ideal to strengthen body and mind. Push ups and other aerobics will strenthen different groups of muscles. Well done Mr.Tyagi. Who needs all these artificial so called modern equipments?

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Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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