Australia v India, CB series, Brisbane February 18, 2012

Hard work and skill help Vinay bounce back


The day David Warner got stuck into him on his Test debut, at the WACA ground, R Vinay Kumar was badly ridiculed. Some said he was as quick as Sourav Ganguly, others compared his pace to Anil Kumble. Warner felt he was one of the courses of a buffet, and dealt with him accordingly. Vinay's fourth ball in Test cricket was hit for a straight six, and another six off his bowling brought up the fastest century by an opener in Test cricket. The social media, a bit of an online pub representative of cricket fans' opinions, had found another Indian player they wanted to retire.

There is another side to Vinay, though. Inconspicuously he does his stuff in limited-overs cricket. And he also had the spirit to come back from that nightmare debut, and do well on the same tour. This is what Eric Simons, his bowling coach, has to say of him: "Vinay Kumar is one of the hardest-working cricketers I have worked with. You get guys with natural skill, you get guys who just do it through really hard work. He is one of those guys.

"He has got a lot of skill, but he has got a great work ethic, and he has embraced that really tremendously in the sense of going out and doing the work he does. He is always doing his drills. You always see him working. He wants to grow as a cricketer. He wants to improve his batting, he wants to improve his fielding. He is just getting the rewards for his hard work."

That kind of Test debut can crush many. Simons talked of how coaches can look a player in the eye and see if he is up for the next match or not. Vinay has been up for it despite that debut, he was up for it even on the second day of his debut Test. That Vinay has been bowling is reward enough, that he is the joint leading wicket-taker in the tournament after the first half of it is over, that he is taking a wicket every four overs, that he has been an exceptional outfielder are all a bonus and a big part of the reason why India sit at the top of the table.

"For me I don't think about all those things [what people say]," Vinay said on the eve of the India's fifth match in the ODI triangular. "For me, just going out there and giving my best is important. Whether you are playing for India or Karnataka. To keep it simple is really helping me. I don't think much about what they say about me. I try to give my best, be it batting, bowling or fielding."

The India cap didn't come easy for Vinay. For years he had been one of the top wicket-takers in the Ranji Trophy, only to see performers from the IPL - the newest big thing back then - overtake him. The IPL boys came and they went. His coach, LM Prakash, would tell Vinay, "See Vinay, your chance will definitely come, but the thing is, when it does come, you don't want to just play one game and come back."

Vinay has not stopped at just one game. He is not quick, he doesn't swing it like a banana, he will never be an intimidating presence, you won't notice him most of the time, but Vinay brings something the captains and coaches like. To call him just as a hard-worker will be patronising. Mules work hard too. Vinay has surely brought some skill to his limited-overs cricket. He mixes the pace up well, he is not afraid of bowling the slower-ball bouncer, and he seems a confident bowler who knows what he is doing.

"I really thank coach and bowling coach for backing me," Vinay said. "When the senior players and captain and coach have trust in you, definitely you will do well."

Vinay has high standards for himself. "Pace is coming really well now," he said. "I need to be more consistent. And definitely if I see the last four games I could have given 10 runs fewer every game. Even though I did well, there are many areas that I can really improve. "I bowled a few bad balls. When new batsmen came in, I bowled a few easy balls. They didn't go for boundaries, so if you see from outside it looks okay. For me as a bowler I know I can control all those things. Ten runs fewer I could have given."

Vinay has been impressive in this tournament, but he has yet to bowl under the pressure of having to defend runs, a scenario that has been traumatic in this tournament. The one thing about Vinay, though, is he will never rest or take things for granted. He has to fight for each day of international cricket he gets, and he will keep doing that.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vipul on February 19, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    @Kiran Kumar: I was expecting this reply from other viewers. Make no mistake, he may be hard-working but he is definitely not intelligent. Had he been so, he would have worked harder on improving his inefficient bowling action of his. His action doesn't allow him to generate more pace than his body would otherwise have allowed. What use his hard work is if every other batsman at the international level finds no trouble depositing him over the fence? Look at what he achieved today.

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    Looks like Mr. Monga is a little too early to write this piece. VK has been shown his true class by Dan Christian today.

  • Shankarnarayan on February 19, 2012, 6:18 GMT

    Well done Vinay. Keep proving your detractors wrong. I remember that Anil Kumble was also ridiculed like this when he made his debut in England. Even the great Kapil had talked harshly about Kumble. But nowwe know that no Indian bowler will ever come close to matching his contribution to Indian Cricket. Both of them are/were not gifted but are/were extremely committed and hardworking. But people please stop this non-sense that Kumble's Tenvic is supporting Vinay...etc...etc. Give due credit to the guy.

  • Manjunath on February 19, 2012, 5:09 GMT

    All the best Vinay... Use the opportunity well....

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    There are two categories of people in this forum;one-who's senses are open and their opinion is reasonable, logical and considerate. two-who are hell bent to see Vinay fail and have no regard for sincere hard-work and passion. But, the good thing is the first category is growing and that is heartening.

  • cirano on February 19, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    Firstly its unfair to compare Vinay and Irfan, well Irfan had his chance , now that vinay has been given a run we need to see if he can maintain the standards , at the same time give credit to vinay where it is due , he earned it, not long ago the same forum was critical of Vinay and ga ga over other Indian bowlers who yet had t prove themselves.

  • Balaji on February 19, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    I am amazed to see the amount of confidence Irfan Pathan evokes. I like the guy, but he has disappointed too many times. Irfan is good enough only for 6-7 overs when the ball is new, he doesn't know to use the old ball. Also someone said that his pace may improve. What I have noticed is that it tends to drop. At 27 the man should be physically at his prime. Instead we have him bowling at the pace of a much older man, Zaheer. Dhoni mauled him once in an IPL match and Kings XI Punjab lost a match they should have won. So how good is he really?

  • Deepak on February 19, 2012, 2:31 GMT

    I compared IRFAN,Jadeja/Vinay kr/Praveen Kr and aswin's Average,number of sixes and 4 scored,5wickets performances etc. IRFAN is very experienced and proven cricketer.His averages in batting and bowling in Test Matches is way higher than others.So IRFAN haters should stop comapring him with newbies. Irafn's ODI record is good too.i used to think Praveen kr /Jadeja/Aswin are good in ODI but Pathan is outstanding in ODI too. Sir Jadeja's strike rate is horrible.


  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2012, 2:18 GMT

    @VipulPatki I'm ashamed to say you are an Indian who wants an Indian bowler to be thrashed common dude be sensible and support people who work hard unlike you sit at home and just blabber something

  • Hari on February 19, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    Pity the guys who are taking a dig at Vinay despite his performance and this article. How does it matter what his pace is, so long as it is effective enough to take wickets - of the right players, at the right time! Watch this IPL and see how even Sachin will be a bunny to the guile and disguised, deceptive pace of Vinay.

    Vinay baiters, get a life! You can't stop a committed cricketer whose passion for the game is greater than the riches the game will be giving to himt!

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