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Zaheer's coach not optimistic of pacer being recalled

ESPNcricinfo staff

May 29, 2014

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A

Zaheer Khan is ecstatic after a wicket, New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 3rd day, February 8, 2014
A fitter-looking Zaheer Khan had shown up at India's previous two overseas tours © Getty Images

Zaheer Khan's long-term coach, Sudhir Naik, is not very optimistic about the pacer making a comeback for India. Speaking to Mid-Day following Zaheer's exclusion from the India squad for the England Tests, Naik said he does not think the selectors will consider him for national duty in future.

Zaheer had injured his back while playing in the IPL for Mumbai Indians. Following a visit to London for treatment, he is now back home, in Mumbai.

His only chance of being recalled, Naik said, was if the group of younger bowlers selected for the England tour failed "miserably". "I don't think the selectors will consider Zaheer again. It will be very, very difficult for Zaheer to make a comeback into the Indian team," Naik said. "The only possibility is if the younger lot of pace bowlers selected fail miserably. Then, the selectors might consider Zaheer again. Otherwise, there is no chance."

The BCCI had not specified why Zaheer had been left out of the 18-man squad that included six pacers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Pankaj Singh - whether it was due to his injury or whether he had been dropped. Naik said in his opinion it was because of doubts over whether Zaheer could last the duration of the five-Test series.

"Although he would be fit for the Test series, the selectors would not like to take a risk with Zaheer's fitness," he said. "Their major concern would have been whether he could last for the full series. So, that is why they did not select him."

Zaheer, 35, is currently fourth on India's wicket charts, with 311 scalps from 92 matches. The previous time India went to England, in 2011, Zaheer's hamstring gave way on the first day of the first Test, and that set the tone for a disastrous series for the visitors. Thereafter his fitness remained a talking point and his form fell away, culminating in him being dropped during the home Tests against England in December 2012.

In his time away from the national team, he underwent rigorous fitness training in France with Yuvraj Singh, and returned looking in much better shape. He was recalled for the South Africa tour in December last year. In the New Zealand series that followed, he further dispelled the worries over his fitness when he bowled extended spells - 107 overs over two Tests. However, the latest injury will not be easily overcome, Naik said.

"His dream was to complete 100 Tests and then retire. But I guess now that will not happen. I was confident that he could achieve his goal when he returned to full fitness after a nearly one-year injury lay-off. But unfortunately, this injury has practically ended his international career. There are only 25% chances of him making a comeback now."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Nampally on (June 2, 2014, 21:16 GMT)

@Nandan Nadkarni: Thanks for your feedback regarding Yadev & Aaron being kept out of Playing XI by MSD. Cricketers should be chosen on their current form & record not on "Politics". Right now Umesh Yadev is at his best form. If I had the chance to select the XI, Yadev & B.Kumar will open the bowling for India in the First Test in England. They are the best on current form. Shami is distant Third! Ishant does not deserve to be in XI at the expense of Yadev. Similarly amongst spinners the best one is A.Patel (LH). But neither Yadev nor Patel are in the squad. Sadly, the Selectors did not do their home work. Binny at age 28 does not justify his selection even in India B team.

Posted by   on (June 2, 2014, 18:06 GMT)

Why the hell is Raina being ignored again and again. I think hes a better batsman than Vijay/Gambhir/Binny!

Posted by   on (June 2, 2014, 8:25 GMT)

@Nampally long Dhoni is the captain India will play Ishant, Jadeja and Ashwin in the test team. Umesh Yadav, and Aaron along with some talented leg spinners will never find a place in the team ...the same applies with the opening batsmen.

Posted by Nampally on (May 31, 2014, 14:15 GMT)

Great bowler that Zaheer was, his days of playing for India are over. You cannot turn back time & at nearly 36 he is past it as a pace bowler. India has so many talented bowlers of real World class pace- Aaron at 150 KPH, Umesh Yadev at 145KPH +, are the 2 brightest prospects. Kumar & Shami are strong back up medium pacers at 135+ KPH. Pandey, Mohit Sharma & Sandeep Sharma are also serious contenders. Instead of focussing on the past, it is better to develop these bowlers via coaching & look to present & future with hope. All the hype in trying to get the players past their best into the Indian Team is waste of time. ZAK had his days & we salute him for his great contribution to the Indian Cricket as we did to many other pacers since the time of Nissar & Amar Singh. Also India needs good opening batsmen. Whilst there are at least 6 promising openers available, we keep recalling old timers past their best. Nair, Uthappa, Vohra, Samson, Chand need to become "Insiders" from "Outsiders"!

Posted by SICHO on (May 30, 2014, 6:58 GMT)

@Cloudmess interesting you mention Ambrose and Walsh in their later part of their career, but you forget to mention that they were fitter and 20-25 ks quicker than Zaheer.

Hmm....... Don't get me wrong folks, but really, this new Indian pace battery is not really sparking some interest to set the world on fire, but lets wait and see. I see Cook and co. are boasting their batting averages big time, but hey you'll never know.

Posted by RameshGV on (May 30, 2014, 6:04 GMT)

I agree Zaheer might not be the same force and we should look into future. But, to have him as a mentor to this young pace bowling in a series like England, would have been of immense value to the team and for these guys and future. Zaheer is by far the best bowler we have see in the last decade for India. He gets that respect not just in India but outside as well. Hope BCCI and Zaheer can strike a cord and do something meaningful together.

Posted by   on (May 30, 2014, 2:07 GMT)

personally id like zaheer to stay till the 2015 wc but play few matches to keep up match fitness but mostly travel with the squad as a mentor. his experience would be invaluable to the bowlers.

Posted by cloudmess on (May 30, 2014, 1:05 GMT)

In English conditions he could have been a handful, where savvy is often more important than express pace. Ambrose and Walsh were still nearly unplayable on their last WI tour here, aged 36 and 37 respectively. Still, it will be an interesting series. England are probably now where India were a year or so ago, having to rebuild after the collapse of a very successful side.

Posted by   on (May 30, 2014, 0:40 GMT)

Zaheer probably played a year too long, and shouldn't be back, but the negative comments are disappointing. Like all Indian pace bowlers in recent times his numbers suffered from having to bowl in India on some brutal tracks as well as having had relatively slow, older fielders with poor range for much of his tenure. His ODI numbers were outstanding. He had a fine career for India and should be respected.

Posted by McGorium on (May 30, 2014, 0:23 GMT)

@ LeftBrain: Although it's true that Indian pace bowling is, and has been weak, using SR or averages to compare them to non-subcontinental bowlers is misleading. For example, Wasim Akram's SR is 54.6. Gough's SR is 51.6. Nobody in their right mind would argue that Gough is the superior bowler. SR basically indicates that a bowler bowls X balls to take a wicket. Most teams play 50% of their games at home which put subcontinental pacers who do not have sheer pace at a disadvantage. In the subcontinent, esp with India, the pacer's job is to soften the ball up for the spinners. The pitches are made to help spinners, and pacers often bowl less than 20 overs an innings, most of them fruitless because the pitch doesn't help. English conditions help swing most of the time, and so Gough has a lower SR. Zaheer takes around 5 balls more on average than Wasim to get a wicket. How much do you think that costs the team? Or are we just twisting numbers to suit our theories?

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 23:04 GMT)

Don't they have back specialists in India?

Posted by indianzen on (May 29, 2014, 22:34 GMT)

Time for getting to coach other Zak... I am awaiting to see Dravid and Ganguly as batting coach and Zak and Venky Prasad as bowling coach soon...

Posted by vishel on (May 29, 2014, 20:57 GMT)

The article is about Zaheer Khan, and yet the picture to the right shows Irfan Pathan!

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 20:56 GMT)

I think, now he should join team as a Mentor. Even his presence will make a lot of difference. Now its very risky to be him part of team, in last test he just bowled few overs and got injured and that affected India badly.

Posted by BhushanPheonix on (May 29, 2014, 20:37 GMT)

The other Indian current seam bowlers need to learn a lot from Zaheer's stint in Indian team...the main lesson that needs to be learnt is fitness had Zaheer not had so many injuries.. I am sure he would have continued this journey for a longer period of time.. Injury management I am not sure how much money and time is being spent by BCCI this is one major area of concern with reference to seam bowlers and Indian cricket team with a good pace battery we cannot win in overseas conditions......

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 20:20 GMT)

Time to moveon and give younger bowlers chance to bowl on fast pitches. Remember every player has to fiekd as well and fitness is key to that.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (May 29, 2014, 19:48 GMT)

Didn't he get 5 wickets in his last test innings? Seems a bit harsh to dump him for good when he is in good form. Where is the other good Indian pacer to replace him?

Posted by Jaffa79 on (May 29, 2014, 19:31 GMT)

Zaheer looked over the hill, injury prone and near retirement last tour of England! Can't see how things will have improved!

Posted by SanjivAwesome on (May 29, 2014, 19:29 GMT)

"...the 18-man squad that included six pacers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Pankaj Singh..." There are no "pacers" in this group except Aaron! Pankaj looks rather unfit in his latest cricinfo photo.

Posted by xylo on (May 29, 2014, 18:50 GMT)

Zaheer can still be a great mentor to the new bowlers. If only the selectors had been as logical with the cricketer of the generation, this decision might have gone down easily.

Posted by android_user on (May 29, 2014, 18:25 GMT)

I just hope India's new pace battery comprising Bhuvi,Ishant,Shami and hopefully Aaron (I think we should go with 4quicks) does well. Each bowler will have to bowl looking for at least 2 wickets every innings. the only way for India to win is if the quicker bowlers pick 70-80%of the wickets.

Posted by wapuser on (May 29, 2014, 18:23 GMT)

Making a comeback if new bowlers fail?? I hope he doesn't come back even if it happens. ...simply bcoz ge doesn't deserve that.....unless he brings drastic changes to his attitude n fitness which seems to be going down with each day....poor stuff

Posted by army7782 on (May 29, 2014, 18:10 GMT)

A very bad decision to leave zaheer....very bad hurts me as much as it has to hurt....for a man with 311 wickets and an experience of 92 matches is not worthy of being dropped!

Posted by Selfishkar on (May 29, 2014, 17:04 GMT)

The new Indian team for England will not do any worse than the last one which had Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Shewag and Zaheer. In fact, if the new team can draw even one match, they should be considered better.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 16:28 GMT)

his chance for return may be 25%, but the current line up to fail miserably is certainly more than 50% give india's prev tours....

Posted by LeftBrain on (May 29, 2014, 16:27 GMT)

Zaheer was an OK bowler, nobody will miss him. Infact any Indian 'pacer' can be best described as OK bowler. Honestly India and fast bowler can only come in one scentence when one is describing how a fast bowler took Indian batsmen to cleansers. For a perspective see this; best Indian pacer in terms of strike rate (qual 100 wkts) is Irfan Pathan on 50th position, with SR of 58.84, well below very average bowlers like Gough, Reid, Hoggard, Caddick, Broad and Cork. Interms of average best Indian is Kapel Dev, at 63rd position. Zaheer is at 86th position in Average and 59th in SR.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 16:26 GMT)

Zaheer should announce his retirement. Indian team can't afford a passenger like him. Can't run, Can't field, Can't bowl 10 overs in a row effectively. All this talk about him in the side would prove to be a mentor is bit over the top. Didn;t made any difference in South AFrica. Couldn't get opponent out despite 450 odd runs in the kitty. Ishant Sharma had a brilliant tour of New Zealand. He is well rested and unlike previously is not wasted recently on deadest tracks in the world where so called great Dale Steyn got exposed pretty badly.

Posted by Presynaras on (May 29, 2014, 16:21 GMT)

Dhawan was poor in SA, but great in NZ, Vijay was great in SA and poor in NZ, Rohit had mixed results in both series. So I would prefer Ashwin in place of either one of Dhawan, Vijay or Rohit, depending on who does poorly in the first Test. If either one of the openers go, then Rahane can open with the other opener and Ashwin can bat at six. He's terrific with the bat against quality seam bowling and swing. Even in the warm up test in NZ, he smashed a quick fire 47 when others were struggling. Ashwin is definitely a better batsman than most of our current top order. Though it might not spin in England, Ash and Jaddu together can be very lethal, than them playing individually. Ashwin's bounce, Jaddu's angle when bowling in tandem, will surely confuse Eng's inexperienced batting line-up, despite there being no or very little spin.

So for me, the team will be: Dhawan/Vijay, Rahane, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Ashwin, Dhoni, Jadeja, Bhuvi, Shami, Ishwar/Aaron

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 16:19 GMT)

we'll see how this pacers pick up 20 wickets in a match in england....Maybe,the selectors have thought over it rightly...what we cant afford is to loose this series...

Posted by aahahaa on (May 29, 2014, 15:56 GMT)

Zaheer's coach not optimistic of pacer being recalled - wow what a relief !!

Posted by BigINDFan on (May 29, 2014, 15:53 GMT)

Zak can come back as India's bowling coach. He can mentor and guide the younger crop of bowlers instead of fighting for a place in the XI. He should take on Ishant Sharma as a special project and improve his attitude, action and accuracy. Maybe he can play a few more tests at home to compete for another year or so. But his time traveling overseas is over.

For those who are writing off India's chances in Eng - this is a younger team with not much history or baggage. So even if they lose the series they would have given a fight and learned a lot as shown in SA and NZ tours. The only danger is MSD as a test captain - he needs lot of coaching on being aggressive and a different strategy for Tests. Maybe Fleming should replace Fletcher :-)

Posted by aahahaa on (May 29, 2014, 15:48 GMT)

if Eng pick well it will be another 'wash.

Posted by nade123 on (May 29, 2014, 15:41 GMT)

It think its a mistake. The young fast bowlers need an experienced fast bowler to guide them. Zaheer has had success in England and has played county cricket also. Look at the lack of consistency from the young bowlers. Zaheer could have been used sparingly...

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 15:34 GMT)

Zaheer had a good tour of South Africa and decent one for New Zeland. His experience was needed for sure for another year and he could have retired playing 100 test. Young bowlers would have developed more under Zaheer. Very disappointed to see this

Posted by android_user on (May 29, 2014, 15:00 GMT)

@freddyforpm ......I agree mate.

Posted by android_user on (May 29, 2014, 14:40 GMT)

i was surprised to c ishant sharma in place of umesh yadav. yadav did well in champions trophy and he is good test bowler but it looks like no matter how ishant is playing he always has a booked ticket in playing XI. if dis will continue he will soon complete 100 test matches with worst record

Posted by FreddyForPrimeMinister on (May 29, 2014, 14:23 GMT)

Zaheer has had his moments but be really should have been put out to pasture a long time ago. Those Indian fans who constantly make derogatory comments about Jimmy Anderson whilst hailing their hero in Zaheer, fail to note one very important thing - Jimmy keeps himself in top physical condition and despite being one of the team's "elder statesmen" is still one of the fittest and best fielders. When Zaheer came here on the 4-0 tour in 2010, he looked like he'd spent the past 6 months drinking on a beach. Time to go, Zaheer - a fine bowler on your day but sadly those days were a very long time ago...

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 14:08 GMT)

Sorry to say, He is bound to come back, once you see the performance of Indian so called fast bowlers.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 13:54 GMT)

He deserves a better retirement in my opinion - you cannot shove him out the door.

Posted by Harry-S on (May 29, 2014, 13:46 GMT)

Zaheer has lost a couple of yards of pace and I can't see him troubling international batsmen too much anymore. But I am very surprised that Umesh Yadav was overlooked - have been very impressed with him in Test cricket so far - why was he left out?

Posted by getgopi on (May 29, 2014, 13:27 GMT)

Why do these guys have to go to France to whip themselves back into shape? If they required specialized sports therapy, that's one thing. But for simply training to look, feel and move better...That right there tells me their mindset isn't quite there yet when it comes to staying on top of their own fitness.

Posted by landl47 on (May 29, 2014, 13:19 GMT)

Given how inexperienced this bowling unit is in English conditions (only Ishant has played test cricket in England), I'm sure that if Zaheer were fit he would have been included. With a very packed schedule it's going to be hard for the new players to adjust quickly enough and Zaheer's knowledge and advice would have been invaluable.

He's been a great bowler for India. It will be a pity if this is indeed the last we'll see of him in test cricket.

Posted by CricketChat on (May 29, 2014, 12:40 GMT)

Zaheer had his moments of glory and a largely successful career up until 2011 WC as some comments mentioned. Not only has he become injury prone but also lost quite a bit of pace (he was never above medium fast in the 2nd half of his career anyway). In the few matches he played in this year's IPL in South Africa, he looked so slow that the batsmen had plenty of time to negotiate any little moment he got. It seemed the wkt keeper could have a sip of drink before can get up and catch the ball. Point being, selectors and captain realized he won't be effective like before even if he was fit. I am expecting Zaheer to make retirement announcement anytime now.

Posted by Gotiji on (May 29, 2014, 12:39 GMT)

I think it is quite unfair for a coach to talk in such detail about his player's future especially if he has nothing good to say. Where is the pressure on him to rule out Zaheer's come back, talk of possible miserable performance of new comers etc? Totally unnecessary, in my view.

Posted by cricketwatchdog on (May 29, 2014, 12:36 GMT)

Probabaly an anti climax to a superb fast bowling career , likes of sehwag, bhajji and zaheer all made a silent exit in the end. Bow to a man who won india so many matches

Posted by imtiazjaleel on (May 29, 2014, 12:16 GMT)

Zaheer should concentrate on his fitness and quit test and play only ODI and T20 and get ready for 2015 world cup.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 12:08 GMT)

o wow, that would be as if umar gul got left out of the pak team, it just wouldn make sense nor would it work out..b jumar couldnt get u 311 wickets in 92 matches...not many indians could..

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 11:46 GMT)

Yes missing this eng series means his return unlikely. But in India anything is possible u can see comeback of any player. This is Dhoni's team now- No sehwag, yuvi,bhajji & Zaheer. so match winners of ganguly comes to an end. u have rohit, dhawan, jadeja, ashwin, kohli now. This is the way how things take place. New officer, new lobby. It will be interesting how our young bowlers r going to cope up with english weather.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 11:34 GMT)

we can use zaheer experience. let him offer the Indian bowling coach. he is master in setting up the batsman.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 11:27 GMT)

zaheer fitness is very crucial to defend the world cup next year becoz to defend the title especially in australian and NZ oitches we need the caliber of him...young bowlers are ok when comes to bowling dept. but we cannot forget what his experience would do.....

Posted by naren1983 on (May 29, 2014, 11:18 GMT)

Zaheer is a match winner for us. He proved the best pacer in WC 2011 for India and helped India to No. 1 test ranking. I don't agree that his come back is just 25%. He just got trained hard in France and come back, he will not give up for sure. He is needed for India for next year WC 2015. He is very crucial for the series for sure. And should stay for 1 or 2 years for Test Matches before retires. Zak, we fans support you, hope you come back & prove everyone how much you are capable.

Posted by Nayan_Bhuyan on (May 29, 2014, 11:12 GMT)

Zaheer should given the chance to play the 100 test match which is 8 test away now. Though he is not selected for the England tour, it is mainly because of the injury he sustain. After regaining full fitness he can continue his international career at least for a couple of years more. Zahher get well soon, India needs you for 2 more years.

Posted by hussyboy81 on (May 29, 2014, 10:53 GMT)

India could do good by using Zaheer as a mentor / coach .... may be the selectors should lay down the plan for his future... ask him to retire and get associated as a bowling coach... the youngsters could do well with his experience...

Posted by AB_DeVilliers on (May 29, 2014, 10:49 GMT)

Champ bowler, especially in Indian conditions, but his time seems to be up as a result of his injuries.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2014, 10:45 GMT)

I think India need a bowler like Zaheer Khan who could lead the Indian pace attack in the world cup in australia.We all now how crucial he was in the 2011 World Cup. He's done so much for India and one injury should not end his career.Also he was the highest wicket taker in the last two series abroad

Posted by Naresh28 on (May 29, 2014, 10:26 GMT)

Zaks has a unique bowling style for an Indian. His jump at point of delivery has taken its toil on his body. At his age and fitness he could become a bowling coach instead. Its time he gave his body rest from rigors of TEST cricket. His greatest achievement is seeing India to number one in Tests in the past.

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