Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test, Galle, 1st day July 18, 2010

Seamers not grabbing opportunities - Kirsten

Gary Kirsten, India's coach, has expressed disappointment over how few Indian fast bowlers have added to the bare cupboard, or shown the promise to be given a long run. "In the last two years and seven months that I have been with the team, we have tried 15 or 16 seamers in one-day cricket," Kirsten said. "That's a lot of options. We need to settle on the few who can get through.

"It is a concern that the guys are not saying 'I am here now and now I am going to play international cricket for next five years'. A lot of them might argue that they haven't been given enough opportunities, but when you are trying to achieve results all the time, sometimes you get only limited opportunities and you have got to ensure that you show what you are capable of in that time."

Kirsten was speaking after India had a disappointing start to the Test series against Sri Lanka, conceding 256 for 2 in 68 overs on a rain-curtailed first day. Ishant Sharma, who has not had a great time after a promising start to his career, found himself leading the pace department in the absence of Zaheer Khan. He went for 79 runs in14 overs.

"We need to be patient with Ishant Sharma," Kirsten said. "He hasn't had much game time in the last three months. In his last Test in Kolkata he made a crucial contribution, got two vital wickets against South Africa. We need to be patient with guys who we know have the potential and talent to go forward. We must be careful not to judge him on one practice game and one day here. Let's give him a bit of a run and see how he goes. He lost a bit of confidence towards the end of the last season and that takes some time to come back."

When asked if Ishant and Sreesanth should have been sent on the A tour of England, especially to play in the first-class games, Kirsten said: "I would like the guys to have as much game time as possible. Wherever they get an opportunity to play quality cricket they must play."

Kirsten also spoke about the missing allrounder in the scheme of things, someone who could have shored up the bowling in circumstances like today. "It [playing five bowlers] is an option, but you know that our success in the last 16 Test matches has been this combination. We are a good batting line-up, and it's important for us to have six batsmen. Ideally we want a batting allrounder who can bowl seam but there are not many of those.

"If he is going to be a batting allrounder, he has to be able to make a contribution with the ball. We can't have a guy bowling at 115 kmph, holding up one end and getting one wicket every five Test matches. He has got to be able to make a proper contribution with the ball. Irfan [Pathan] was certainly one of the individuals that we earmarked, but he is probably a little bit light on his bowling side."

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo