June 2, 2013

The thrill of Umesh Yadav

Seeing him run in to bowl makes you sit bolt upright in your chair and watch the game
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Sometimes you feel Umesh would have loved to bowl just to get a sprint in © Associated Press

During times like these, you are forced to think why you follow the game so closely, and watch matches so intently. Here is one reason I feel I watched Delhi Daredevils matches. After an almost interminable wait, along has come an Indian fast bowler who makes you sit bolt upright in your chair and watch the game. Forget the match situation. Forget the opposition, the pitch, the format. Forget everything. Just watch.

A run-up is something unique to cricket. There's no real equivalent in another sport. It heightens the drama like little else. In athletics, I can perhaps think of the triple jump run, the long- and high-jump approach runs. But there's nothing similar in racquet or bat-and-ball sport.

For a bowler at the top of his game, everything builds up to the final leap. As the bowler gathers himself into his last stride, the world seems at his feet and the batsman at his mercy. On an off day or, at times, against a batsman on the offensive, the run-up deepens his doubt.

With Umesh Yadav, it nearly always seems that he is itching to get into that final stride. He is one Indian quickie I'd have loved to have bowling when Henry Blofeld was on the radio. Blofeld's anticipation-heightening - "Here is Umesh, he's up to the wicket, he bowls", would have perfectly blended with the strong rapid double click and grunt on the stump mic, as he gets into his final stride.

With different bowlers, the run-up, the final stride and the point of delivery leave varying impressions. With Akram, it was that whippy arm and the final flick of the wrist that really conveyed his genius and held you in thrall. The run-up was more of a corollary. With Shoaib you watched the entire steaming run-up for its drama. Waqar had your attention throughout his sprinter's run-up with the awkward final sling. The crowd noise always rose to a crescendo till the ball left their hands. It was the same with Lillee and Thomson. Holding was incomparably effortless, every light step the epitome of feline grace.

Umesh's run-up - although not in the dramatic Shoaib category or in the bristling, aggressively athletic Lillee style, or the almost-impossibly fluid Holding run - carries the rapid confident stride of a complete athlete. If he weren't a bowler, you can be sure he'd have been a sprinter. It is not for nothing he lists Usain Bolt as one of his heroes.

It's almost as if Umesh would have loved to bowl just to get a sprint in. The fact that he has to bowl a ball at the end of the run is seemingly a bonus. His run-up is a participative one because of the sprinter's stride. Watching him urges you to bowl and gives you a high.

Young Indian cricketers, since when I can remember, used to have a problem with a lack of pace-bowling inspiration. With batsmen we have obviously had no such worries. Kapil, Zaheer, and Srinath, at his best, continue to be bowling inspirations in their own right. Kapil was all lissome grace and effortlessly athletic, Zaheer's mastery of old-ball swing is at times underrated, and an injury-free Srinath might have done more - but none of the three had run-ups and actions that could be easily replicated and none inspired thoughts of express pace. In fact Kapil's famous twisting final leap would have tied most people up in knots.

Umesh, if handled with care, and provided he remains injury-free, has the potential to ensure an end to this dearth of genuine pace-bowling inspiration. The answer to India's pace-bowling woes surely lies in its hinterland. Although these are early days, the signs are very encouraging.

The first thing going for him is his attitude to the game. His aggression is tempered, it's directed at the way he bowls, not at the batsman. With his pace, he doesn't need to get visibly over-aggressive. His follow-through takes him away at a sharpish angle to the batsman, which, coupled with his moderately side-on action and excellent wrist position, means he has natural away swing at pace.

This ability is his biggest asset and is a gift not given to every bowler. He is learning the ropes of reverse swing and can bowl a decent yorker, which I'm sure is a relic of his extended tennis-ball stint. A season in the English counties might give him the crucial wicket-taking nous that made the latter-day Zaheer a handful.

His pace, although obviously not in the Shoaib-Lee bracket, is easily discernible when he bowls straight without offering width in one-dayers. He can contain with line, and batsmen don't often collar him when he bowls straight. The effectiveness of his slower ball is further evidence of him getting to hurry his stock ball on batsmen. Very often, having got used to his normal speed, they don't react in time to hold back on his slower one. The key in Tests is his normal speed that is consistently high in longish spells, that it would appear he manages without really stretching himself.

More than anything else, I enjoy watching him because he is in some ways the bowling equivalent of Sehwag - a minimalist. He walks back to his mark with minimum fuss, starts his smoothly accelerating run, is up to the wicket and bowls. And you feel he still has a lot left in the tank. If he gets a wicket, there is a little contained celebration away towards short cover, a half-embarrassed slap of hands with his fielders, and an almost cheeky smile.

Perhaps it is his down-to-earth rural upbringing: his reactions don't carry with them the mechanical orchestration that almost inevitably seems to come with big-city life these days. You can picture him bowling to Sehwag - a four might result in a smile and a shrug from both, so might a wicket. But it will be back to cricket in real earnest and well-directed aggression the next ball. In their minimalism, they convey the sheer joy of the game.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on June 4, 2013, 15:11 GMT

    Great article! Yes,his run-up is exciting,& makes his bowling expectations go high. @doubtingthomas: Even Dale Steyn was tonked for 59 in 4 overs in an off day in IPL, does that make him bad? NO. Umesh Yadav is different from all the other Indian pacers,his muscular physique is all thanks to the days spent on his dad's farms. He's one of the bowlers with exceptional raw pace & stamina. Yes,a little bit of more control,& he would be a legend. Completely agree with KarachiKid.

  • KarachiKid on June 2, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    Indians should be very careful about Umesh Yadav. He definitely has pace and all the qualities required to be successful but then there were others like Ishant Sharma with similar qualities but by and large under achievers. And I dont blame these bowlers, the problem is flat wickets and emphasis on limited overs cricket. In current context its very difficult for Indian fast men to keep bowling fast because with T20 culture, flat wickets, sooner or later, bowlers will slow down and start restricting runs. you will get nice limited overs pacers but not world class pacers for test cricket.

  • on June 5, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    He's a future super star for India. He can be much effective in conditions like England, Australia and South Africa. Umesh can be a huge threat for Pakistani batsman in this championtrophy match.

  • on June 5, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    Good article..!!Yadav has the ability to bowl with pace upto 140-150 kph. He wil be key bowler for India.

  • on June 5, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    Good sports journalism exhibited.

    Yadav seems to be talented and having the stamina to run the last mile.

    Let us wait and watch.

  • Naresh28 on June 5, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    For me he is alone - Umesh needs a partner. Right now he is on his own. Ishant's height is not an asset to the bowler and gets very fews wickets. If only Ishant can be sorted out. Someone like Sreesanth or Varun Aaron could be able partners. And one hopes we could get back ZAKS.

  • Chaitu87 on June 5, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    Wonderfully written article. I really feel excited and genuinely happy to see "Right Arm Fast" when he comes to bowl. And I totally agree with Syed Ahmad on the pitches factor... It is the attitude that matters for a fast bowler which I feel is reflected in their run-ups. Steyn, Lee, Akthar; I always anticipated a wonder each time they ran to bowl. This guy belongs to a unique breed of fast bowlers arguably, and he needs to prove his mettle. Nothing like a tournament as big as Champions trophy. Hope he is the first of a lot to come for India.

  • on June 5, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    A really good article shows the way what sport journalism is all about.

  • nilb on June 5, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    When bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Varon Aron are around I was really puzzled why the Indian selecters would choose Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan over them like for an event like the ICC world T20. Looks like they have finally come to their senses. This kind of bowler will be very useful in fast pitches for India. The other guy Buvaneshvar Kumar also looks like a very good swing bowler.

  • on June 5, 2013, 2:18 GMT

    Givn the history of new ball bowlers from India, one would understand the enthauisaism of Indian supporters of Yadav. WE have more then a billion people and we are unable to find some fast bowlers that will be judged as the best in the world. Why is this? One billion men versus little England, Australia, South Africa and the West Indies, w still cannot produce someone who slings e ball at 160Kph. WE have the most money, and people but we cannot dictate this arena. Why?

  • on June 4, 2013, 15:11 GMT

    Great article! Yes,his run-up is exciting,& makes his bowling expectations go high. @doubtingthomas: Even Dale Steyn was tonked for 59 in 4 overs in an off day in IPL, does that make him bad? NO. Umesh Yadav is different from all the other Indian pacers,his muscular physique is all thanks to the days spent on his dad's farms. He's one of the bowlers with exceptional raw pace & stamina. Yes,a little bit of more control,& he would be a legend. Completely agree with KarachiKid.

  • KarachiKid on June 2, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    Indians should be very careful about Umesh Yadav. He definitely has pace and all the qualities required to be successful but then there were others like Ishant Sharma with similar qualities but by and large under achievers. And I dont blame these bowlers, the problem is flat wickets and emphasis on limited overs cricket. In current context its very difficult for Indian fast men to keep bowling fast because with T20 culture, flat wickets, sooner or later, bowlers will slow down and start restricting runs. you will get nice limited overs pacers but not world class pacers for test cricket.

  • on June 5, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    He's a future super star for India. He can be much effective in conditions like England, Australia and South Africa. Umesh can be a huge threat for Pakistani batsman in this championtrophy match.

  • on June 5, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    Good article..!!Yadav has the ability to bowl with pace upto 140-150 kph. He wil be key bowler for India.

  • on June 5, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    Good sports journalism exhibited.

    Yadav seems to be talented and having the stamina to run the last mile.

    Let us wait and watch.

  • Naresh28 on June 5, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    For me he is alone - Umesh needs a partner. Right now he is on his own. Ishant's height is not an asset to the bowler and gets very fews wickets. If only Ishant can be sorted out. Someone like Sreesanth or Varun Aaron could be able partners. And one hopes we could get back ZAKS.

  • Chaitu87 on June 5, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    Wonderfully written article. I really feel excited and genuinely happy to see "Right Arm Fast" when he comes to bowl. And I totally agree with Syed Ahmad on the pitches factor... It is the attitude that matters for a fast bowler which I feel is reflected in their run-ups. Steyn, Lee, Akthar; I always anticipated a wonder each time they ran to bowl. This guy belongs to a unique breed of fast bowlers arguably, and he needs to prove his mettle. Nothing like a tournament as big as Champions trophy. Hope he is the first of a lot to come for India.

  • on June 5, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    A really good article shows the way what sport journalism is all about.

  • nilb on June 5, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    When bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Varon Aron are around I was really puzzled why the Indian selecters would choose Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan over them like for an event like the ICC world T20. Looks like they have finally come to their senses. This kind of bowler will be very useful in fast pitches for India. The other guy Buvaneshvar Kumar also looks like a very good swing bowler.

  • on June 5, 2013, 2:18 GMT

    Givn the history of new ball bowlers from India, one would understand the enthauisaism of Indian supporters of Yadav. WE have more then a billion people and we are unable to find some fast bowlers that will be judged as the best in the world. Why is this? One billion men versus little England, Australia, South Africa and the West Indies, w still cannot produce someone who slings e ball at 160Kph. WE have the most money, and people but we cannot dictate this arena. Why?

  • on June 5, 2013, 1:50 GMT

    Bless you Indian fans getting excited

  • Meety on June 5, 2013, 1:42 GMT

    Yadav is cricketing GOLD for India. I hope they look after him very well!

  • on June 5, 2013, 0:37 GMT

    Yadav is a briliant world class bowler .he Remember me akthar.

  • on June 4, 2013, 23:46 GMT

    regarding run-up, javelin throw is a much better comparison that long jump or high jump

  • on June 4, 2013, 22:44 GMT

    People here have talked about the flat pitches - its true they don't really help but Pakistan have the similar pitches with a factory of fast bowlers. Its more about inspiration than the pitches - Wasims and Waqars and even Shoaib to an extent took the pitch factor out of their equation and just bowled fast and aggressive right in to the block holes - that's what is required. UAE and Pakistan pitches aren't different but they have Junaid, Irfan, Umar Gul, Asad Ali, Ehsan Adil, Mohammad Amir etc.

  • YogifromNY on June 4, 2013, 19:11 GMT

    Great article on a genuinely exciting bowler. I like his down to earth quality and his ethic of working hard. I echo the worries of other readers who have talked of India's focus on batsman-friendly, flat pitches. With the exclusive focus that BCCI has on ensuring 'entertainment' in the form of mindless sixes and fours from even average batsmen, does anyone truly believe they are going to mandate spicy pitches any time soon? If India produces a good fast bowler every now and then, it is IN SPITE OF the system and not due to it. God bless this guy (and Bhuvanesh Kumar, Praveen Kumar and the like)!

  • cricindia4life on June 4, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    Very well written article. I especially like the last paragraph where you compare Umesh to Sehwag. What you say is very true indeed. Both of them are no-fuss, no-nonsense cricketers. Sehwag's attitude is even more commendable considering he is from a big city, one that shows the most attitude!

  • sherath on June 4, 2013, 18:21 GMT

    Umesh Yadav is an intelligent and aggressive fast bowler.He has the desire to suceed.why i am saying this is during the disastrous tour of Australia 2011-2012 , he was the only one who was trying to win matches.This after Dhoni conceded the games by setting up defensive feilds and asking Ashwin to bowl to ponting when Ponting was struggling against Umesh .Dhoni is a disaster for indian test cricket.He does not have a startegy or winning mentality in Test cricket.he concedes defeat by setting defensive feilds and asking oppossing players to complete their centuries and declare the innings. Also if anyone remebers , he says that pace is not important and line is length is important and picks bits and pieces fast cricketers and bowlers.Jadeja will be the perfect example if he gets selected in playing 11 in tests in SA .For tests in india , jadeja on some pitches may be handy but not on all.Raina is another . he is very good for ODI's and T20's but cant handle good test bowling

  • inswing on June 4, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    Indians are easily excited by any half- or qurater-decent pace bowler. There is such terrible shortage of pace, that any hint of talent is enough to make grand predictions. Umesh might turn out to be all right, or get injured and be sidelined, or turn into Ishant averaging over 40. Who knows, only time will tell.

  • sweetspot on June 4, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    I don't understand what the fuss is about playing T20. Most cricketers will bowl much more in the nets than they do in a whole T20 game, on any given day. Doesn't matter which format, they can stay fit if they get enough recovery time. Today's performance from Umesh Yadav is bound to warm the cockles of any Indian fast bowling fan.

  • gsingh7 on June 4, 2013, 14:58 GMT

    5/18 in 5 overs well done umesh. ripped aus apart

  • on June 4, 2013, 14:12 GMT

    Good article. A lit more accuracy from Umesh Yadav can help him a lot. His pace gives a good variety to bowling with Zaheer Khan/Irfan Pathan if he can create that angle and inswing, Bhuvi with his precision. He should not fade away like other pace-bowlers and must not think of dropping pace over accuracy. Also India could consider of resting him for some series/matches which can help him benefit a lot.

  • TATTUs on June 4, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Michael Holding had the best run up among the fast bowlers. Kapil Dev also had that mysterious run ups. Shoaib was also good to see when he was steaming in during the late 90s and early noughties. Roy Gilchrist although he chucked had a good run up. Wes Hall was funny.

  • go4manoj on June 4, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    He is not RP Singh, not Praveen kumar, not ishant, not irfan.. He is Umesh Yadav..future of indian fast attack.

  • go4manoj on June 4, 2013, 4:27 GMT

    Umesh is just amazing bowler ...he can maintain speed and line as well . I completely agree with the authors idea of a minimalist behaviour and the mechanical orchestration and its association is amusing to take note of. The intention of the author seems to come from the urge to watch an Indian fast bowler genuinely fast and articles like these would surely enthuse the cause.

  • ThatsJustCricket on June 3, 2013, 18:46 GMT

    @doubtingthomas : for me, that is precisely the problem. In an ideal world, bowlers like Umesh should be preserved for red ball cricket and not wasted in IPL. But we all know that will not happen.

  • Tigg on June 3, 2013, 14:52 GMT

    Talented for sure, but I've never been overly impressed with his run up. He's always seemed to just amble in before sending down a back of the length ball outside off. When he pitches it up and swings it he can be lethal but based on this IPL he looks a long way off.

    He's nippy though.

  • cricket-india on June 3, 2013, 13:53 GMT

    the best thing about umesh is he attacks the stumps; he needs freedom of expression i.e. the captain should just let him do his thing without the fear of going for a few runs, and umesh will pay back in the form of wickets.

  • doubtingthomas on June 3, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    And why exactly do we need this article? Wasn't he just tonked for 60+ runs in 4 overs?

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on June 3, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    Hmm.. lets not get over excited here , umesh yadav is potentially a good talent with his good pace and easy action , but i would wait for a few years before judging him, remember munaf patel anyone ? he also started out as someone who could hit 150 kmph , ishant sharma was another one , then there was sreesanth whose cricketing career is pretty much over , varun aaron has barely played a match and he is already injured ... until and unless our pitches remain flat and lifeless we will never have quality fast bowlers

  • Allanwilliams23 on June 3, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    I think Umesh , Irfan & Ishant should be given a good chance to prove them self , they will do very well if they are not put under pressure by our selectors , they need to look into there fitness as no1 to have them play in all formats of the game , our fast bowlers lack fitness & one of the reasons cant perform , Indian selectors have to make sure our Fast bowlers are super fit & these 3 are our men who can put any team on there back foot ,you can make it happen Umesh,Irfan & Ishant work on your fitness very hard & you will see the difference you make to your bowling , Imran Khan once sait to Wasim Akram do not compromise on your pace bowl as fast as you can & we can work on the rest, take this advice all the best .

  • Indiafast on June 3, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    I completely agree with the authors idea of a minimalist behaviour and the mechanical orchestration and its association is amusing to take note of. The intention of the author seems to come from the urge to watch an Indian fast bowler genuinely fast and articles like these would surely enthuse the cause. Why shed away the urge even when the GOD of Indian cricket Sachin can't for the same issue as he recently helped a rural Indian pacer Javed Sadiq Khan bag a Mumbai Indian Contract. Anticipating a favourable run for Javed too...

  • on June 3, 2013, 5:44 GMT

    This author is describing a dancer or a ballet artist and not a bowler ! What is this minimalism / smile / shrug thing about Yadav / Sehwag ? Just words without meaning. Yadav has pace but he's obviously not express and he's nothing compared to India's own Kapil Dev, Srinath or even Zaheer Khan in terms of effectiveness. Yadav has potential though and a season with an English county or in one of the English leagues could do him a world of good.

  • on June 3, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    He is a terrific looking bowler. Such an easy bowling style which we have not seen in any Indian bowlers for quite some time if at all except maybe Ishant. I did have the same expectations for Ishant Sharma. What a shame he did not live up to his early promise. I hope Yadav can stay with it.

  • Asif2910 on June 3, 2013, 3:13 GMT

    He will be another RP singh,so sad

  • on June 2, 2013, 20:05 GMT

    I like Umesh Yadav. He doesnt chuck for a start - something rather uncommon nowadays. Its rather sad to say that i get a thrill when i see a bowler with a dead straight arm nowadays. He also uses the bouncer very cleverly. Very clever highly talented bowler with a great action and is really quick. If he was able to play in non subcontinent conditions hed end up with a bucket load of wickets. Hope he continues to do well.

  • Baseball-Sucks on June 2, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    So now they've started to write blogs about players like Umesh Yadav too. lol I'd rather read about Dernbach than this guy. lol

  • since7 on June 2, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    The Author here talks more about the run up and the feel he gets when sees Umesh yadav run up to bowl.It is more of an aesthetic analysis.Why do people start talking about his pace,or how good he is?.I don't think he is going to go the Munaf way where he will compromise his pace,approach as time goes on.

  • here2rock on June 2, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    Umesh Yadav is really an exciting bowler for India. Sometimes I feel that Dhoni does not have 100% confidence in his ability. He needs a willing captain to take him to the next level.

  • on June 2, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    irfan was the best bowler indian had in recent times..... he was a genius then again, batting ruined him...... alas

  • on June 2, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    Come on man, this is the problem with India, as soon as they see some one bowling a little quick, they exaggerate so much and finally that 145 kmph bowler becomes a 125kmph

  • on June 2, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    @Kamal, relax man. The author is Indian and He is talking about Yadav from an Indian point of view.

  • on June 2, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    Seriously man? Out of all the bowlers in the World ... Umesh Yadav??

  • on June 2, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    Seriously man? Out of all the bowlers in the World ... Umesh Yadav??

  • on June 2, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    @Kamal, relax man. The author is Indian and He is talking about Yadav from an Indian point of view.

  • on June 2, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    Come on man, this is the problem with India, as soon as they see some one bowling a little quick, they exaggerate so much and finally that 145 kmph bowler becomes a 125kmph

  • on June 2, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    irfan was the best bowler indian had in recent times..... he was a genius then again, batting ruined him...... alas

  • here2rock on June 2, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    Umesh Yadav is really an exciting bowler for India. Sometimes I feel that Dhoni does not have 100% confidence in his ability. He needs a willing captain to take him to the next level.

  • since7 on June 2, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    The Author here talks more about the run up and the feel he gets when sees Umesh yadav run up to bowl.It is more of an aesthetic analysis.Why do people start talking about his pace,or how good he is?.I don't think he is going to go the Munaf way where he will compromise his pace,approach as time goes on.

  • Baseball-Sucks on June 2, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    So now they've started to write blogs about players like Umesh Yadav too. lol I'd rather read about Dernbach than this guy. lol

  • on June 2, 2013, 20:05 GMT

    I like Umesh Yadav. He doesnt chuck for a start - something rather uncommon nowadays. Its rather sad to say that i get a thrill when i see a bowler with a dead straight arm nowadays. He also uses the bouncer very cleverly. Very clever highly talented bowler with a great action and is really quick. If he was able to play in non subcontinent conditions hed end up with a bucket load of wickets. Hope he continues to do well.

  • Asif2910 on June 3, 2013, 3:13 GMT

    He will be another RP singh,so sad

  • on June 3, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    He is a terrific looking bowler. Such an easy bowling style which we have not seen in any Indian bowlers for quite some time if at all except maybe Ishant. I did have the same expectations for Ishant Sharma. What a shame he did not live up to his early promise. I hope Yadav can stay with it.