India domestic season November 11, 2006

Sarfraz Nawaz to coach Delhi bowlers

Sarfraz Nawaz assures that his sessions with the Delhi bowlers will be "hard and intensive" © Getty Images

Sarfraz Nawaz, former Pakistan swing bowler widely considered to have been the originator of reverse-swing, will be working with Delhi's bowlers ahead of the Ranji Trophy season, starting on November 24.

Sarfraz, who will join Intikhab Alam as the second former Pakistan player to work with an Indian domestic team, is set to conduct a week-long fast bowling clinic from November 17. "I will be concentrating on their bowling technique and devise customised-programs for them," Sarfraz told Cricinfo. "I will be closely monitoring their run-ups, the wrist position, the jump at the end of the delivery stride, landing, and the follow-through. Each of these little things is very crucial. I will be conducting two sessions every day. It will be hard and intensive but will bring results.

"Also I shall teach them other tricks which will help them become better bowlers - how to bowl into the breeze, how to bowl against it, which end to choose, and also, shall train them to bowl on different wickets. I have asked the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) to prepare three kinds of wickets - seaming wickets like you get in New Zealand and England, hard and bouncy tracks like in Australia and South Africa, and of course, our sub continental-type wickets. If DDCA can't provide me the tracks at Feroz Shah Kotla, then I will look for some other ground in Delhi."

Nawaz, who managed 177 wickets in 55 Tests between 1969 and 1984, also plans to focus on the art of reverse-swing, something that his name will forever be associated with. "I plan to teach them how to bowl with not just the new ball or the old ball but also the semi-new ball," said Sarfraz. "Each requires different techniques and I will try my best to pass on the skill to these players."

Yet, would he be able to do justice to his role in such a short period? "One week is enough as these players are not completely raw and young," he retorted. "Many of them have first-class experience and guys like Ashish Nehra has played international cricket."

One of Delhi's senior batsmen didn't think much could happen in one week. "See the first match is starting immediately after these seven days," he said on the condition of anonymity. "The bowlers cannot be changing their game too much before it. Ideally this should have been done some time back. That would have given time for the bowlers to practice and incorporate the changes. But having said that, this stint still could prove useful."

However, it also appears as if his tight schedule doesn't allow for a longer stint. "Since I am the president of the sports wing of the Muslim League party, I don't have too much free time at my disposal," Nawaz admitted. "Plus I am also doing commentary for Pakistan Television for the first Test between Pakistan and West Indies. So I couldn't accept a longer term. But I think one week is enough for now. Anyways Ranji Trophy season is starting after that. But I am open to long-term stints in the future."

Sarfraz had no doubts that Ashish Nehra, who's last appearance for India was a little over a year ago, would make a comeback. "He has been struggling due to various injuries," said Nawaz, "and I haven't seen him recently. But I will be monitor his action, do a video analysis and point out mistakes. I won't change his action completely but an adjustment here and there could prove useful."

Amit Bhandari, another Delhi fast bowler who played for India but has seen his stock fall over the last year, was confident that he would benefit from Sarfraz. "He is supposed to be the father of reverse swing, so definitely it will be of help," said Bhandari. "No doubt about that. But it would have been better if it was a longer term. Especially senior bowlers like Nehra and me can well adjust and incorporate the new changes but the younger players like Ishant Sharma and co. will probably need time to practice on what has been taught but the first match starts on 23rd. But still it's a good move which will help us in longer run.

Sriram Veera is editorial assistant of Cricinfo