India news October 13, 2009

'We're expecting too much from Ishant' - Prasad

Cricinfo staff

Venkatesh Prasad, India's bowling coach, has said it is unfair to expect too much from fast bowler Ishant Sharma while he remains relatively new to the international scene.

Ishant burst into prominence with a memorable Test series in Australia in 2007-08 but has struggled to find his lengths in one-day cricket in the last year. He averaged 31.48 and picked up 27 wickets in his first 20 ODIs. In 13 games in 2009, he has picked up 19 wickets at 31.42. The economy rate, though, has shot up from 5.34 to 6.19.

"People are expecting too much too early," Prasad told the Daily News & Analysis. "To become one of the best, you need about 8000 to 10,000 hours of practice in your career. That amount of practice will mean eight to 10 years. In tennis someone who is good at 21 would have started playing at 11.

"Usually we spot talent in cricket at 19 and by then that cricketer would have played for only three to four years. Ishant is an exciting talent but he is just 21. I started playing for India when I was 24. When you have played five years of domestic cricket you are more mature. We shouldn't judge Ishant too early. We need to give him a lot of time. We expect too much from somebody with too little international experience. We are expecting too much from those who are just 20-21."

Prasad said Ishant's drop in form could be because of a lack in confidence. "We go gaga and when someone is doing well and then when he has a bad patch we say he has lost this and lost that. We also need to open our eyes to the fact that everything favours the batsmen these days. There has been too much pressure on him and expectations from every quarter." Former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath also said the criticisms could hurt Ishant's confidence but dismissed the idea that he had to cut down his one-day load to improve.

Zaheer Khan's absence due to injury has weakened India's pace attack but Prasad said this was an opportunity for the other bowlers to step up. "Ashish Nehra has been impressive in his comeback. What has helped him is his domestic experience. The others like RP Singh, Ishant and Munaf. I think they have all got what it takes to win matches."

Some experts have commented on the drop in pace of young Indian fast bowlers after a season but Prasad said he had not advised his charges to do so. "There was never a single moment in my two-and-a-half years with the Indian team when I told them to drop pace. I tell them to be consistent. If there is some sort of a technical flaw in their performance that is where I come in and I handle the technical part."