Aakash Chopra
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Aakash Chopra looks at various aspects of cricket from a player's perspective

The issue with Ishant

The fact that his wrist is not behind the ball and the seam doesn't come out upright speak volumes

Aakash Chopra

October 23, 2013

Comments: 76 | Text size: A | A

Ishant Sharma bowls, West Indies v India, second ODI, Kingston, June 30, 2013
Ishant Sharma: not quite coming out right © AFP

Let me start with a disclaimer: I've been a huge Ishant Sharma fan, right from the day I saw him bowl in a Ranji Trophy one-dayer years ago. It was rare to see an Indian fast bowler as tall as that. He also had the perfect high-arm action and a solid wrist behind the ball.

His height offered him extra bounce off the surface, and the ball almost always came out of his hand with the seam upright, which allowed him immense control. Such was his mastery over his line that we at Delhi could give him a 7-2 off-side field and the chances were he would not go for a single boundary off the legs throughout the day.

He was barely out of his teens then, but it was quite evident that this lad would almost certainly play for the country, for he had potential and promise. Besides the obvious physical advantages, his mind seemed perfectly primed for the job: he simply loved bowling. Ishant would never shy away from bowling long hours in the nets. He was the first to raise his hand if the captain needed some overs, even towards the end of a long day.

So I wasn't surprised one bit when he bowled that magical spell to Ricky Ponting in Perth. Ishant went on to bowl many such probing spells, especially when India toured overseas. He wasn't the typical Indian swing bowler - more the sort of hit-the-deck-hard bowler who was likely to get purchase off hard and bouncy Australian and South African pitches.

Ishant stood out on another count - he typically bowled slightly short of a good length. If one can get steep bounce, along with some sideways movement, as Ishant used to, both ways, success can almost be taken for granted.

However, as he progressed in his international career - and he progressed much faster than many of his age - his wrist started to defy his commands. It was no longer willing to stay behind the ball every time he bowled, and that meant the seam was rarely upright on release. If the seam is wobbling at the point of release, it's improbable that the ball will land on the seam, which in turn means negligible lateral movement off the deck. The extra bounce, which was his best ally, lost its sting because the predictability of length coupled with the lack of lateral movement off the surface allowed batsmen to ride the bounce.

Ishant could still bowl some probing spells on days when his wrist didn't fall, or when, by some stroke of luck, the ball landed on the seam more often than not. I distinctly remember his spell to Mahela Jayawardene on a docile Sri Lankan pitch, in which he made one of the world's finest batsmen dance to his tune. Unfortunately those spells were few and far between.

Even when Ishant was far from his best, MS Dhoni kept faith in him, for he was still one of the few who would readily bowl 18 or 20 overs in a Test match day. There are bowlers who are there to take wickets and then there are the ones who the captain wants in his side, for you need workhorses if you are to get through 90 overs in a day. Not that the latter variety are not expected to take wickets, but they are allowed to take fewer than the rest; that's part of the bargain.

In the last six months things have taken a turn for the worse, for Ishant has seemingly almost stopped even attempting to bowl with the seam upright. When a fast bowler ceases to deliver the ball with the seam upright, you know his confidence is at its lowest ebb. Sacrificing the upright seam and its benefits is usually part of a bid to gain more control, but ironically control is also a matter of confidence. If you aren't 100% sure of where the ball is going to land, chances are, more often than not it won't land where you want it to.

Ishant's lack of confidence in his ability to put the ball in the desired spots was clearly visible in that 30-run over. But while post-match analyses wrote him off, and the next morning's newspapers carried obituaries, not many attempted to deconstruct those infamous six balls.

When a fast bowler ceases to deliver the ball with the seam upright, you know his confidence is at its lowest ebb. Sacrificing the upright seam and its benefits is usually part of a bid to gain more control, but ironically control is also a matter of confidence

Ball one: Long-on and long-off were on the fence, and Ishant attempted a yorker. The ball ended up two feet outside off and at least a couple short of the blockhole. Faulkner dispatched it for four over covers.

Ball two: Ishant brought mid-off inside the circle, which meant that he had to bowl a short ball, and he did. Just that Faulkner was ready for it and hit a six.

Ball three: Ishant brought third man and fine leg inside the circle, and had long-on and long-off on the fence. The only place to bowl was full and within the stumps. Another attempted yorker missed its spot by a good few feet and went for a six over his head.

Ball four: Not knowing what to do, Ishant bowled a length ball. Most times, bowling a length ball in the death overs is a sin, but he got away with only two runs this time.

Balls five and six: Ishant had one fielder on the fence on the off side, long-off, and three on the on side. He had two options to choose from: one, a yorker within the stumps, or two, a short ball to the body. He chose the latter and gave away two more sixes. Which raises the point that if that was what he wanted to do, he should have brought long-off inside the circle and sent fine leg to the fence. With fine leg inside the circle it was not prudent to dig it in too short, for even a top edge would go over the infield. And there was very little chance of a bouncer being hit over the mid-off fielder.

Unfortunately, Ishant couldn't deliver good old yorkers, conventional or slower bouncers, or changes of pace with precision under pressure.

I've not come across many players who are as hard-working as Ishant is, and it saddens me that he is not learning from his mistakes - or perhaps the lessons aren't being conveyed to him accurately. He is only 25 and it's not too late for him to go back to the basics of keeping the wrist steady and attempting to release the ball with the seam upright. The rest is bound to fall in place.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by DingDong420 on (October 28, 2013, 19:01 GMT)

i dont think he is good enough.....

Posted by   on (October 28, 2013, 11:48 GMT)

Lack of commitment as some of the readers have pointed out is the last thing one can associate with Ishant. That said I am no great fan of his bowling. Over the years he seems to have developed some bad habits and is struggling to get out of the mess. To me his wrist position is more of symptom than a reason. His run up strides have gone longer than desired at the point of delivery as consequence he is no longer releasing the ball well balanced. Having being penalized for few times for running on the pitch.Trying to avoid that mistake he could be swaying away a tad early. As a result his head could be falling away and wrist trying to correct the ball release timing. Unlike batting, mistiming in bowling is not forgiving and especially in shorter version of the game, where you have to be always within the restricted bowling areas. It is easy as an arm chair critic to point out possible challenges, but key is we want Ishant to be back in the reckoning as Indian Cricket needs a workhorse

Posted by cricket_ahan on (October 28, 2013, 2:29 GMT)

It's not, as backed up by Akash in this article, that Ishant is not capable. It's more that he seems to be lacking is discipline or commitment to bowling in the right places. His decreasing of pace over the years means, like many Indian bowlers, he needs more focused attention on accuracy (case in point Bhuv Kumar). At 130km/h, bowling short and wide at waist high is almost always going to cop significant pounding (esp in this age of T20 skilled batsmen). Ishant needs time in the nets, and needs to focus on accuracy. Also, he needs to pitch the ball up, as short pitched stuff is clearly not his forte (or at least not any more).

Posted by ProdigyA on (October 27, 2013, 16:36 GMT)

The most astounding thing is what is the bowling coach doing. It seems like everyone knows what the issue is, we heard it on commentary, read it in papers, online that even ordinary fans know what the issue is, except for the bowling coach.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (October 27, 2013, 5:31 GMT)

The main problem with Ishant is that he is a terrible bowler. Next, as somebody else pointed out, look at the threads around his bowling wrist. They are increasing in number by the day. The bling around his neck and that worst hair. I'm sure, even a coach at school level cricket would kick him out from the sport, not just from the squad, without any hesitation. Here we are, burning our midnight oil discussing about a terrible, superstition ridden, unprofessional bowler! Is it ok if your superstition ridden doctor comes to the operating table with lots and lots of threads around his dominant hand to perform a surgery that demands meticulous precision? Why are we letting this terrible bowler Ishant get away with all this? Running in hard and practicing hard - even after all of that he is not able to make life difficult for the batsmen. What does that tell you? It tells me that he is a terrible bowler. The main problem with Ishant is that he is a terrible bowler. Case closed.

Posted by Nampally on (October 26, 2013, 15:10 GMT)

Excellent analysis of Ishant's strengths, Akaash! With his height, one would expect him to be the top prospect. When you say that Ishant's folly in not holding the seam upright at the time of delivery is the principal reason for his erratic bowling, why don't the Coaches' work on making him correct that deficiency. Until he corrects it & gets the desired results in the Nets, he should not play for India & lose his confidence. I feel that Ishant should also work on pitching the ball at the right spots w.r.t. length & direction. The upright seam aids in movement off the pitch- NOT control runs. Ishant has taken a fancy for short balls which on Indian pitches is asking for punishment. I don't know if you heard of R.B."Bumper" Desai of Bombay- 5'-4", 28" chest & <120 lbs. He opened the bowling for India in 60's & had a lethal bumper just short of length & got many wkts with it in Tests. If Ishant cannot bowl a bumper like Desai's, he should avoid short balls & focus on length & direction.

Posted by   on (October 26, 2013, 11:28 GMT)

Its like a kid in class does not attend any classes and suddenly appears for the exam , most probably he will end up failing, its the case of Ishant Sharma. Its better to put him in coaching classes, if still he is not performing then he must be throw him out of the side...Give the another young kid a chance.

Posted by captainclever on (October 26, 2013, 3:42 GMT)

Right now he needs to change his bowling style that he does in the past[2008].He needs sometime to get back .

Posted by chotteguru on (October 25, 2013, 12:21 GMT)

I keep on emphasising - India very desperatly need a GOOD bowling coach. Even the stongest batting sides have had batting coaches so why not a bowling coach for a very weak bowling attack. The WI in their heyday had a devastating bowling foursome. Even Australia, more recently, began their decline when McGrath and Warnie's powers began to abate or were out. So, without any doubt India needs a much improved bowling attack and you cannot just pick new players out of the hat. Hire a bowling coach who not only improves the effectiveness of present players but works out a programme of ensuring there will always be good bowlers in the pipeline.

Posted by Sultan2007 on (October 25, 2013, 11:08 GMT)

Whiel Ishant clearly seems to have an issue with his wrist position as Akaash astutely points out, i suspect his issue with length is not dissimilar to that of Srinath's. Srinath was a terrific bowler and whenever he pitched it up just a tad, he was incredible. Why he didnt do it more often often escapes me! It could have something to do with natural length with both him and now Ishant. Could also be that they are concerned about losing their bounce by pitching it up - especially on the lower bouncing Indian pitches. Problem is that they then get vulnerable sqaure of the wicket since they dont have express pace or movement off the wicket. If Ishant cant get his wrist right he may as well call it a day.

Posted by   on (October 25, 2013, 8:42 GMT)

Good article.. i was just wondering why you ( Akash Chopra )can't go over there and tell Ishant Sharma what he needs correction . its simple as that ( I think !!!)

Posted by android_user on (October 24, 2013, 16:48 GMT)

imo this is india's worst bowling line up in past decade we atleast had a zak irfan pathan ajit nehra rp who were atleast decent while now we have vinay and bowing spearhead ishant

Posted by   on (October 24, 2013, 16:13 GMT)

I have never ever bowled one ball at any level of competitive cricket. Heck I have not played one inning of competitive cricket. And I am just thinking out loud here. Is there any wrist band like contraption [not the sweat bands used by tennis players] available to tie up the wrist?? As Aakash says, the entire problem is because the wrist is out of position, is it that difficult to lock up the wrist with some kind of gizmo?? All you professional cricketers don't you dare laugh.

Posted by   on (October 24, 2013, 4:20 GMT)

Dear Akash it is a very promising article about Ishant. As quoted by Abhishek Prohit he is "India's Blunt Spearhead". He gets sharper when guided but looses it all when he is on his own. Unlike Zaheer he lacks the retention power of what he learns. He comes to every match with a clean slate. Initially everyone thought he will will age like wine but he did age but like juice. Please bring back Zaheer as he is the only one who can bear the responsibility of being a Spearhead. Having bench strength of bowlers likes Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan it is possible option. The selectors need to look at overall performances rather then picking "Fast" Bowlers as bowling is about accuracy and only at times speed matters.

Posted by MinusZero on (October 24, 2013, 0:55 GMT)

He needs someone to take him under their wing and give him some personal coaching. He could be what India needs. The need some pace bowlers

Posted by rogues13 on (October 24, 2013, 0:24 GMT)

Well Blade-runner, i know at least 2 other bowlers with similar symptoms...Malinga and Thisera '34-runs in one over' Perera......at least we don't say Ishant is the best we have......

Posted by Naresh28 on (October 23, 2013, 22:47 GMT)

Sreesanth was a deadly bowler when got his wrist position right. Ishant could come back layer but needs a good coach and domestic matches to work on his game. Great article by Aakash Chopra as always. There is truth in the comment that Ishant is a workhorse. Hope the bowler reads this article to work on his game.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 22:22 GMT)

Why avg scores low in Pak matches when they too play on roads..............Why in WC 2011 avg scores in all Non Indain matches too low despite those being played on so called dead Indian pitches..................ANS is poor Ind bowling & exceptional Ind batting

Posted by sensing on (October 23, 2013, 20:58 GMT)

One of possible reasons that has not been discussed is how Ishant has been handled last three -four years. when Zaheer khan was playing, he would not be given the new.On the last tour of Africa, Srisanth who never provided break throughs in his first spells in tests on that tou was being given new ball and Ishant would come very late ,and for only four overs, or at most five overs , whereas he enjoys bowling long spells. Once , even vinay kumar was given ball ahead of him, making a commentator lose his cool. But when the ball became old , he would be used as workhorse . So when complaining about Ishant's lost edge, we must also take into consideration this factor also. He can be dropped for few matches but not dumped forever, without giving hi fair opportunities to put himself back on track.

Posted by inswing on (October 23, 2013, 20:30 GMT)

I can understand Chopra supporting his former teammate. But sorry, Ishant has never ever been a good or even average bowler at the international level. Someone needs to call spade a spade. He is not going through a bad patch. He never "had it". He averages 38 in Test cricket with strike rate of 68. He would not make it to any regular Test team. Zimbabwe and B'desh might consider him but he would not be automatically included. It is amazing that after 6 years of cricket, after 51 Tests and 67 ODIs, his career highlight is *troubling* Ricky Pointing. This is pathetic. In 100 innings, he should have a list of times where he ran through sides with 5,6,7 wickets. But his highlight is that he troubled a few batsmen a few times in 6 years. He has performed poorly in all types of wickets. He is only 25, is hard working, and is not injury prone. This means there is hope for him. But at this level of performance he does not belong in the team.

Posted by contrast_swing on (October 23, 2013, 20:13 GMT)

I dont care how much talent he has or much he is willing to bowl, a bowler's true worth is in him taking wickets.

Future cricket historians will wonder how a gus with such horrible stats was allowed to play so many matches

Test matches 51-- Avg. 37.99 | Strike Rate 68.3 | five wickets in an innings 3 First Class 77 -- Avg. 32.59 | Strike Rate 61.3 | Five wickets in an innings 5 ODI 68 -- Avg. 31.36 | Strike Rate 33.0 | Five wickets in an innings 0

More amazing stat is this: Of 69 innings in which he bowled more 10 overs, only 9 times he has take four or more wickets. 15 ing -- 0 Wkt 18 ing-- 1 Wkt 13 ing-- 2 Wkt 14 ing-- 3 Wkt 6 ing -- 4 Wkt 2 ing -- 5 Wkt 1 ing -- 6 Wkt

In ODI 53 times he bowled more than 5 overs and 9 ing -- 0 WKT 17 ing -- 1 WKT 17 ing -- 2 WKT 7 ing -- 3 WKT 3 ing -- 4 WKT

I dont know any other bowler with such record playing for any country. How long will he cash on his 'magical spell'. Stop supporting him. He should dropped.

Posted by McGorium on (October 23, 2013, 18:43 GMT)

Ishant reminds me of Srinath in his early-mid career. Srinath too could never bowl a yorker or a slower ball. The bowled the same length, over and over again, which was back of a length, and an occasional bouncer. When he bowled a good ball, it would be too high to hit the stumps or get an LBW. Add to the fact that he bowled from mid-wide crease, it meant that LBWs were almost impossible to come by. And he could not get the ball to leave the batsman either. Ishant needs a break to improve, and I would recommend him being dropped for the WI series so that he gets his mind straight for the Saf series.

Posted by Blade-Runner on (October 23, 2013, 18:30 GMT)

I think that the issues of Ishant are batsmen. So,He should never be allowed to bowl at a batsman. An open n shut case !!

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 17:59 GMT)

Somebody get this guy a haircut immediately. Call me stupid but I think his hair is not allowing him to bowl well. Hygiene is as important as bowling practice. I think Ishant is lacking discipline which bowlers need plenty.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (October 23, 2013, 17:53 GMT)

Ishant Sharma is India's answer to England's Jade Dernbach. Both are hopeless bowlers who shouldn't be playing international cricket of any nature. I cannot see Ishant Sharma improve any more. He will get smashed for eternity. Let's just let the guy take a long rest away from the Indian team and focus on developing our genuine fast bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Shami Ahmed and co. Zaheer Khan is about to make a come back and I can easily see ZAK play 2 more years for India in all forms. As bad as I feel for Ishant, I don't like his attitude and I don't like his hair style more than anything.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 17:41 GMT)

I would say, "Bring Back Umesh and Aaron"

Posted by arvindsrin on (October 23, 2013, 17:34 GMT)

India's record for nurturing fast bowlers has been woeful. Fans have felt the same exasperation with Srinat, Agarkarl, Zaheer went through a similar spell and Ishant is turning out the same way. In contrast, Imran's legacy has been to impart a very strong training ethic which has been carried forward by W&W and now Aquib Javed. India's bowling seniors starting with Kapil have somehow fallen short. Ishants bowling action means that he should be used as a restrictive bowler with appropriate fields. Dhoni has been really poor as a captain making Ishant bowl to 7-2 and 6-3 fields in tests wih the result that he tries to get the ball to cut back from well outside the off stump thereby resulting in four balls. Ishant should be used as a first change bowler and a workhorse. Akash's observation about Ishant's early days should be seen in the context that even today Indian ODI and test batsman struggle against the bouncing ball on Indian wickets, so Ranji batsman struggling does not mean much

Posted by GRVJPR on (October 23, 2013, 17:34 GMT)

Give him green and bouncy tracks for twenty matches in a row, and be prepared to sacrifice useless 100 century records. All bowlers will do well. Bu treat them well first.

Posted by ROXSPORT on (October 23, 2013, 17:20 GMT)

Though Ishant may be only 25, the thing is his attitude. He already thinks himself to be a great and is not willing to learn. Couple this with his superstition -- as witnessed by numerous threads around his wrist, neck and God knows where. His hair falling over his eyes rendering him incapable of seeing where he wants to pitch the ball is another problem. I would suggest him to get rid of the excess baggage on his wrist and neck and use a hair band, if he insists on his mane. Take a sabbatical and come back after six months refreshed in both body and mind.

Posted by srikanthGM on (October 23, 2013, 16:50 GMT)

Ishant has talent. That mush was evident when he arrived on the international scene. Its sad that he wasn't groomed properly. Anyways if he is really hardworking as you say, he is just 25 yrs old and has time and experience on his side. He needs to go back to drawing board and then play in Indian domestic tournaments (not just IPL). He will bounce back. Best of luck to Ishant.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 15:52 GMT)

The problem is Ishant is terrible. Hard work is one thing, having the talent to deliver what you learn (questionable in his case) & knowing what to bowl is another. Umesh Yadav is similar but slightly better because he has pace. We have Shami and Mohit with good control, Unadkat who provides left arm variety, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan who are an extremely intelligent bowlers among others such as Ishwar Pandey. That is enough bowling stock, groom them and forget Ishant and Vinay Kumar please.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 14:48 GMT)

I agree with Aakash. Ishant is actually a very good bowler. I haven't watched this series much, but whatever I have seen of him, i could sense it is more in the head rather than anything else. I agree we lost the match because of him but he is major weapon in our armory in Australia and SA. He could be dropped from the series but instead of leaving him in the wilderness, he needs to be harnessed with care at the MRF Pace Academy. Remember, we have no one of his variety currently in domestic cricket.

And yes I do agree he needs to get rid of his hair!

Posted by SamRoy on (October 23, 2013, 14:26 GMT)

Akash for all his 'probing'-ness on English, Australian and SA pitches he averages 58+ in SA, 60+ in England and 70+ in Australia. I will tell you what I think of Ishant Sharma. He shouldn't be playing test cricket for India. We have Ishwar Pandey, Mohammad Shami and Dhawal Kulkarni to be the third seamer to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav. 5 good seam bowling options are enough to choose from. Otherwise we can always fall back on Praveen Kumar, a far better test bowler compared to Ishant. Moreover he ruined my birthday on Jan 5, 2011 when he singlehandedly bowled garbage to a one-legged Kallis and an out of form Boucher when SA were placed at 130/6 and helped SA to recover from losing its first ever home test series to India.

Posted by Scrop on (October 23, 2013, 14:22 GMT)

I simply cant believe this... "His height offered him extra bounce off the surface, and the ball almost always came out of his hand with the seam upright, which allowed him immense control. Such was his mastery over his line that we at Delhi could give him a 7-2 off-side field and the chances were he would not go for a single boundary off the legs throughout the day."

Mr. Aakash, are you serious ?

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 13:45 GMT)

The problem with Ishant is that he is not good enough. The End.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (October 23, 2013, 13:42 GMT)

Definitely should be 1st bowler picked for plane to SA . Definitely will help the till now rusty G Smith and Kallis get back to form in style. All this with Amla and D'villiers do what they do best . Certainly SA bowlers are sure to be having a huge total on the board as they step out to target the Ind batsmen on hostile home pitches .

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 13:40 GMT)

In that breakthrough tour of Australia 6 years ago, Ishant, then only 19, could generate some good pace and he even managed to bowl at 150 KPH at times. But these days he's a usual medium pacer, bowling in the low 130s. He doesn't have the kind of accuracy with which good seamers could trouble the batsman even at such pace. Ishant has to work on regaining his pace and work on his accuracy as well. As he doesn't get the kind of movement that Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Praveen Kumar gets in the air and laks Zaheer's control over seem and swing, Ishant should focus on his strengths, pace and bounce. That is the only way back for him at international level. He's young, so he has the time, but it depends on his level of understanding.

Posted by android_user on (October 23, 2013, 13:19 GMT)

beyond my imagination that why everyone is making hue and cry over ishant one over. stuart broad too had the feeling of having 6 sixes by yuvi but he overcome from that only because no one pulls his leg back. this is game...win and loss are the part of it. ishant give 30 in that over. apart from that he was having a good game. let him concentrate on his work.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 12:20 GMT)

Ishant is a bowling good until he was a bowler. but now he is no more a bowler.. he wants to become a brand l.. and he is no where near to any legendary fast bowler.. so he lures behind those celebs..big icons.. and that's his current lifestyle. he is concentrating on becoming famous and not on his bowling. As bowling and cricket has become very small thing for him..

Posted by CricketChat on (October 23, 2013, 12:09 GMT)

I have one straight forward question. What are the bowling coaches at various teams he plays for? Aren't they seeing what Aakash is seeing and ensure Ishant work on correcting those flaws? Either the coaches failed to do their job or Ishant stopped listening to them altogether. No less than Waqar coached him at Sunrisers in IPL this year. I feel the problem lies entirely with Ishant and to a lesser extent to Dhoni since he played Ishant even though he was ineffective and going for runs almost all the time. Hopefully, a break will allow Ishant to clear his head and start afresh.

Posted by Cool_Jeeves on (October 23, 2013, 10:15 GMT)

He is too low and bent down during the point of release. If you look at tall bowlers like McGrath and Ambrose, they were not bent - instead they released the ball from the maximum height possible.

Secondly, visually one can see there is something wrong with his leap - it is a weak little hop. Look at the actions of Waqar/Steyn/Lillee - so many great bowlers to observe and compare...

Thirdly the hair, many have already written on this.

Fourth the attitude - too many times, if in a really unlucky instance, if a catch has been dropped, I see Ishant smiling despondently, instead of expressing displeasure.

His entire body language is shambolic. He should not be admitted to any team until he has regained confidence and has corrected his numerous technical flaws.

Posted by RAJEESHKUMAR on (October 23, 2013, 8:57 GMT)

I wonder will it be so difficult for someone like Akash Chopra to convey his view to ishant directly instead of pointing them out in an article. Any task is easy verbally, but difficult to execute.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 8:31 GMT)

The problem with Ishant is that he is not taking wickets. There have been attacking bowlers like Waqar Younis, who have gone for runs, but the thing was that they also got bucketloads of wickets. If Ishant had got wickets while going for runs, no one wil complain. It is the last column , plus of course the runs that is the issue.

Posted by LoveCric1975 on (October 23, 2013, 8:07 GMT)

Please someone ask Ishant to get rid of some hair for his own sake because the longer they grow they become more of a handicap. If few strands come in the way he looses sight of the spot where he intends to pitch the ball and also just after the point of release as he enters his follow through, his hair covers all his face and I shudder to think what would happen if a batter middles one straight towards his face. Faulkner could easily have murdered him if he had clobbered one straight at him as Ishant's hair definitely blind him for a split second after the release.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 7:43 GMT)

The problem is not the bowler but the captain but I doubt if anyone will call it. The pace bowler in India needs to have three kinds of confidence. One that if he is injured, he can still be financially secure. Two that if he continues to bowl fast and sacrifices runs for wickets, then that will be acceptable. Three that if he bowls short of a length then the ball will bounce. Ishant has none of the above. So he has become a work horse and made all sorts of compromises to stay in the team. The problem is not Ishant. My bet is that Bhuvaneswar Kumar or any of the others would have gone for runs as well. Maybe 24 or 34 but definitely would have gone for runs. That was the match situation and with only 4 fielders out there just aren't enough boundary riders. So let us tell Ishant that there are spells that he has bowled that have turned the game for India and we are proud of him for that. Second let us not turn an out an out fast bowler into a work horse just because we can.

Posted by itsmyfantasy on (October 23, 2013, 7:41 GMT)

First and foremost this guy badly needs a hair cut, i think his long hair is objecting his vision where the wickets are. "His wrist is not behind the ball" - a immature comment by an immature cricketer. Come on guys here we are delaing with professionals. Can a doctor say that my wrist is not behind the knife and so the operation failed. I still agree he is a good bowler, BCCI should have selected the reserves for the rest of the games.

Posted by VB_Says on (October 23, 2013, 7:40 GMT)

Ishant and Rohit are luckiest cricketers in the world. They get all the chances for many years which none get. The other thing I dont understand is the over-exposure a good player. Why does Ishant have to play T20, ODI & Tests? Cant he be asked to play only one format, and spend time to train. I am sure he will produce better results.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 23, 2013, 7:33 GMT)

"not many attempted to deconstruct those infamous six balls. "

Because it wasn't necessary to to deconstruct plain incompetence! Remember, Ishant is a bowler who has already showed the world that he can give away 65 runs in an IPL match. As a wag put it, Ishant shouild have been given the Man of the Match, for so cleanly giving away the match to Australia!

Posted by ghostcall on (October 23, 2013, 7:29 GMT)

I never saw him bowling a single yorker in his 50+ test match career .. or probably he is not good enough to bowl one .. He may have attempted but by the time it lands its either full toss or good length..

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 23, 2013, 7:29 GMT)

The Pakistanis and the Sri Lankans taught the world how to use yorkers effectively, no matter the pace at which you bowl. But the Indian bowlers just don't seem to learn. Look at the way Srinath, Agarkar and Ishant have been bowling over the spread of 20 years. Zaheer became a class bowler after he LEARNT to bowl the yorker. Till then he was mediocre. Nehra was India's best yorker bowler IMO. The RESPONSIBILITY of getting the right bowlers with the REQUISITE skill sets lie with the SELECTORS. Ensuring that bowlers keep to line, length and field discipline on the field is the CAPTAIN's responsibility.

Until Indian cricket establishment learns to face this issue of bowler incompetence, then India is condemned to REPEAT it. Why select Ishant when his inadequacies are so glaringly evident to all?

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (October 23, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

You commented on everything. But what about his blinding hair? I take it that you see nothing wrong with his hair. Sad!

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 23, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

"his wrist started to defy his commands. It was no longer willing to stay behind the ball every time he bowled, and that meant the seam was rarely upright on release. If the seam is wobbling at the point of release, it's improbable that the ball will land on the seam, which in turn means negligible lateral movement off the deck. Then the extra bounce, which was his main weapon, also deserted him, and the predictability of length without sideways movement allowed batsmen to ride whatever bounce there was on offer. "

If this is the case, then he is clearly UNSUITABLE to bowl and REPRESENT India. Why not say loud and clear that he is to be DROPPED? I for one hate regional favoritism being displayed when somebody is being SELECTED for INDIA! Select people on MERIT! If you can't find SUITABLY QUALIFIED fast bowlers, then please select 5 spinners! I'm sure Ojha and Harbhajan would have done a better job than Ishant and Vinay!

Posted by jango_moh on (October 23, 2013, 7:10 GMT)

i always rooted for ishant despite his lack of form, it would not seem unfair to give the indian management some flak for his fortunes though.... i dont think he has been managed very well.... how else can you explain the fact that a bowler who was bowling consistently in the 140+ range and getting good bounce and seam now become like this!!! why do only indian bowlers lose pace so drastically!!!

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 7:03 GMT)

well ishant has not even survived - as i would say - the australian and the english bounce and seam conditions. He averages 73.28 & 58.18 respectively. He also leaks runs with 3.57 & 3.68 pro respectively there. How can a bowler take wickets on flat decks if he can't rack up an average of at least 35 in these conditions. Ishant should go to county cricket and then come back as ZAK did. ZAK averaged 36.34 before the county stint but after comeback, he averaged a good 29.58 including the barren patch he had in 2012. That just shows how effective is a county stint.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 23, 2013, 6:58 GMT)

"I've not come across many players who are as hard-working as Ishant is, and it saddens me that he is not learning from his mistakes - or perhaps the lessons aren't being conveyed to him accurately. He is only 25 and it's not too late for him to go back to the basics of keeping the wrist steady and attempting to release the ball with the seam upright. The rest is bound to fall in place. "

The problem lies with this attitude and not with Ishant. Ishant is mediocre and unfit to bowl in internationals, if he doesn't learn and can't bowl yorkers on demand after 6 years of CHANCES in international cricket. A fast bowler who cannot bowl yorkers, should NEVER be selected. It's like a tennis player going into an international match without knowing the backhand. I fault the selectors for selecting him and Dhoni for not putting his foot down on performance on the field. A captain CANNOT absolve responsibility.

Posted by emceedrive on (October 23, 2013, 6:56 GMT)

I understand that as a former team mate of Ishant, that you have to defend him. But seriously Aakash, lets drop the nonsense here. This isn't some temporary dip in form or a technical fault that needs to be fixed. Yes, Ishant bowled a couple of brilliant spells when he first surfaced. Who cares? By that math, Vinod Kambli is the batting legend of Indian cricket. He has been thoroughly tested: home, and away; favorable conditions and flat pitches; weak teams and strong. He stinks. Ishant averages 38 with the ball in tests (and its not like he has a brilliant s/r or economy rate to partially make up for it), he goes for about a run a ball in ODI's, and he goes for almost 9 an over in T20I's, at a miserly average of 50. He's been tested thoroughly. He stinks. Its that simple.

Posted by its.rachit on (October 23, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

while i agree with aakash on all aspects regarding Ishant moving from a so-called-talented bowler to a liability, i disagree when he says that ishant has bowled many probing spells overseas ... he averages more than 50 in SA-Aus-Eng-NZ combined, which speaks volumes of his so-called-talent ... i dont remember any such spell (there must have been some spells, but none of them were good or resulting enough to be remembered) ... to call him unlucky (like mst experts have done for the last 5-6 years) is such a travesty ... no one can be unkucky for 50 test matches ... one can only be lucky to be so bad and still play 50 tests

Posted by teju666 on (October 23, 2013, 6:40 GMT)

I thought the ball by ball analysis would throw interesting insights but all I got was what I saw on TV. No explanation of why the yorkers miss the mark. I am no expert but if Ishant's wrist is impacting the movement he gets off the wicket, why are his yorkers bad. Also balls 5 & 6 were short. Ok. Maybe bad idea and worse execution. The questions begs to be asked. Is there more wrong with Ishant than just his wrist position. 'Low on confidence' is not an acceptable answer in international cricket. If he has technical issues, he should be able to atleast get the yorker right. Even if that is not happening, he shouldnt be in the team. Harsh, yes but we cant afford a bowler without the right technique and without the right frame of mind.

Posted by Romanticstud on (October 23, 2013, 6:10 GMT)

Ishant is a good bowler ... He needs to start to look at his variations ... At the death especially.

There is no room for error ... The difference between a yorker and a full toss or an over-pitched delivery is a couple of inches ... The yorker must be bowled full at the feet ... and not wide of the stumps ...

The bouncer is a tricky one too ... If you bounce it to high it gets called ... If you bounce it not high enough the batsman can hook and pull with confidence ... It needs to be directed between the chest and the shoulder at the body ... No width ...

Bowlers like Waqar and Donald used to be deadly at the death because of the accuracy of their deliveries ... A bowler like Shaun Pollock or Glenn McGrath that had similar pace to Sharma used to mix their pace with slower deliveries with too were accurately targeted ...

Posted by android_user on (October 23, 2013, 6:08 GMT)

Akash Sir; i am a big fan of your technical discussions. But all this analysis doesnt mean anything now.You should have got the article long time before.Also i believe it is not such a simple problem with Ishant. You habe toblook at hia Jump and Body positioning and Most Importantly Intent. His bouncers were Thigh High; Yorkers were never on the feet and you never see him try and move a ball. He is very Low on Confidence and Attitude. Needs a Good Break !!

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 5:51 GMT)

The one thing that Ishant has going for him is his age. If he has the right attitude as Akash seems to point out in terms of bowling, this drubbing could still be a blessing in disguise. He needs to take a long hard look at him, not make outrageous claims like he is the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack and look ridiculous, go back and work his way from scratch. He needs to prioritize and possibly attempt to play only Test match Cricket and possibly domestic T20's only as an all-out strike bowler. He is not cut out for containing bowling! if he indeed loves to bowl, he will go back and learn something when it is not too late!

Posted by NasirBangladesh on (October 23, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

This one over has diminished all good past performances of Ishant like in Champion trophy final 2013, last match of Pakistan tour in India 2013, magical spell against Ponting and so on. This is typical human judgement. But we believe Ishant will reply all his critics with sublime performance in near future. He is just 25 and long road to go ahead. Wish him all the best.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 5:45 GMT)

42ing: Well, Ishant rarely bowls at 140kmph any more. At best he hits mid 130's. With the fall in pace, the bounce goes away.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (October 23, 2013, 5:26 GMT)

Aakash, good article. But I am little disappointed. With your sharp observation skills and good analytically mind you have missed out on a point. Ishant is not a bowler made for T20s and ODIs. He is a test class bowler who with right guidance, good fields and the confidence of a captain behind him can be expected to do well in Test matches overseas and also be economical work horse in subcontinental wickets. Look at the best ODI and T20 bowlers today. Malinga, Narine, Ajmal, and Gul to name a few. What differs these bowlers? Precise yorkers, slower bouncers, ability to bowl dusras and mastery over line and length. Ishant lacks all these qualities to be a good economical bowler in shorter format. Many a time in recent series he has drifted on the pads, bowled full tosses when attempting yorkers and his short bowls are destined for fences. He is not a agile fielder. You cant mold a bloke into something he is not made up for. The earlier MSD understands this it is better for Ishant

Posted by 42ing on (October 23, 2013, 5:18 GMT)

"Then the extra bounce, which was his main weapon, also deserted him" How does something like this happen, Akash? One can understand the wrist position going a bit wobbly - you strive for some extra pace, little changes creep in your action, etc. But how did Ishant lose the ability to extract bounce? Bounce should be highly co-related to just hitting the deck, right? How does this ability suddenly disappear? Is there something I am missing?

Posted by sray23 on (October 23, 2013, 5:14 GMT)

It is good that finally someone in India with the pace of Ishant is getting a lot of opportunities. For India to have a good fast-bowling culture in the long term, bowlers like Ishant should be more encouraged compared to batsmen, as in Indian conditions you can afford to be very harsh when picking batsmen. NOW, what Ishant needs to do is work smarter & not necessarily harder. His commitment is not in question - in fact he is possibly the only Indian fast bowler recently who didn't sacrifice training time for party time once he became a big star and then later ended up with soft-tissue injuries. So he needs to use his brain a bit more in practice now and learn from his mistakes.

I am also a fan of Ishant and I think Indian cricket needs many more fast bowlers with his pace & height. For now, he is only 25 and should be backed. But he needs to learn and repay the faith soon.

Posted by Pacelikefire_Samrat on (October 23, 2013, 4:51 GMT)

I dont agree with you that when a fast bowler delivering a ball without the seam upright,his confidence is at its lowest ebb.I remember Allan Donald bowling first change in ODI;s because he wasnt able to control the swing,In his autobiography,"My Life" Brett Lee talks about his holding the ball across the seam to try and move it away from the right hander,coz he was getting the ball to inswing regularly(spit-rock as he refers to that).In ODI's with everything stacked against bowlers,bowlers prefer to use non traditional methods,its just a way to survive.

Posted by Pacelikefire_Samrat on (October 23, 2013, 4:44 GMT)

I always love your articles Akash,they talk about the finer aspects of the game.Before we get to the point of his wrist not being behind the ball at the time of delivery,let me talk about you giving him a 7-2 off side field,expecting that he wont give away a single boundary on the leg side,But being predominantly an inswing bowler,the seam at the time of release of the ball would point towards leg slip,thereby the margin of error is quite less.Even though he is the senior most bowler in the side,he is still a one trick pony,he cant bowl an inswinger,he can only get the ball to hold its line,but for the ball to do that he cant bowl it full.Imagine a guy who has only an inswinger(which generally is off the mark by miles) and bowling just one length still getting to play as many matches as he did.I always thought that he doesnt use his non bowling shoulder much(that doesnt get up as much as it should)-for ages we have talked about his limited talents,but somehow he still manages 2 hold on

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 4:42 GMT)

He is a pathetic sportsperson, end of story. In the first match, Faulkner hit him for a six and then he got caught the next ball. Ishant gave him a stare as if he had uprooted his stump. The next ball he got hit for six by the number 10. His attitude is totally mismatch to his abilities. Even Hyaden said during commentary that he always thought of him being just aggressive not effective, verbal assault won't create terror in the minds of batsman. Just few good spells don't justify him playing for 6 years while others are warming benches. He has got the attitude of Mcgrath with the abilities of Venketash Prasad

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 4:39 GMT)

Aakash, please ask him to take rest from the T20's. He is the fantastic bowler otherwise. Atleast he'll listen to you. After all you were his teammate.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 4:23 GMT)

a courageous article from Akash, congratuations. after the dismal show, not many are willing to see event he face of Ishant Sharma. Its true that we lost the match in 48th over itself, but apart from poor show of Ishant we must not undermine the ability of Faulkner who trusted his instinct to take on the pacers and his shots paid off. the prescription for Ishant at the moment is, "Go back to the basics, play some Ranji or may be county cricket, regain the Upright seam position, may be learn a lesson or two about swinging it away from right handers and last but not the least, learn to hold yourself strong under the pressure".

Posted by sramesh_74 on (October 23, 2013, 3:54 GMT)

For how many more years are we going to talk about Sharma's magical spell to Ponting?? Yes it was superb..but that was quite some time back. The question is - is he good enough to make the first 11?? On current form, he should not even be in the 15, forget the 11. He seems to have forgotten his basics. His action is not consistent. He is not using his shoulders and arms correctly. His follow-through is bad. He tends to fall away during the delivery stride. He has not got the yorker right. He cannot afford to bowl friendly bouncers at 130 Ks. Any tailender can slog that over cow corner. He needs to get back to basics, bowl plenty of owers in domestic cricket. A stint with an English county will definitely help. Question is - does he have the right set of people counseling him and ensuring he is doing the right stuff?? Your guess is as good as mine.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 3:48 GMT)

@roversgate you say economy for wickets? When has Ishant taken wicket in recent matches? He has been gifted wickets. He for one cant take a wicket if allowed to bowl full day on his credit, if batsmen do not commit a mistake. There is no good delivery or wicket taking delivery. He is not even a test bowler, he never bowls on the stumps, he is always 2 3 feets away. For ODIs he is not even consistent with line. He has had a good match till that over, but he couldn't send two good deliveries in that over, that speaks volumes. He need to be sent back to domestic. Let him get that 140+ pace some movement and back. Right now he is a below mediocre bowler.

Posted by roversgate on (October 23, 2013, 3:04 GMT)

The fact that he has got so many opportunities is in fact the problem, too much success at too early an age. He needs to be pushed back to Ranji basics and devoid of international cricket but with a clear path for him showing that if he can produce results, he will make it back to the international level. What is especially bothersome, is the fact that he keeps getting picked for ODIs. This is one format where we can manage with economic bowlers like Munaf, Nehra, Vinay Kumar and Irfan Pathan. Our batsmen are so formidable to an opponent that they try and up the scoring rate and lose wickets to economic bowlers. Unfortunately for Ishant, we cannot afford to have someone who sacrifices economy for wickets in the ODI format.

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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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