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India need to make an effort to invest in Mayank Yadav

Special talents need additional resources to get the most out of them

Ian Bishop
Mayank Yadav watches the game from the sidelines, Lucknow Super Giants vs Delhi Capitals, IPL 2024, Lucknow, April 12, 2024

Mayank Yadav could be well worth taking special care of  •  Associated Press

Everybody agrees that Mayank Yadav is a special talent. It's very rare to have someone who can consistently bowl around 145kph and go up to the mid-150s. Mayank's got something that you can't buy: pace and control.
But he also has an injury history, and in this he is not unique. We have seen a number of Indian fast-bowling talents break down. Rohit Sharma, I remember, had expressed his frustration about bowlers picking up injuries frequently.
Mayank's body needs management and it needs great strengthening. How do we ensure his talent gets the chance to blossom fully?
I am a big American sports fan and I particularly follow the NBA, where the top players (or their teams) invest in themselves to the tune of millions of dollars in terms of having support staff and systems. Tennis players, too, do the same. I believe it is time for cricket to go that way - for the top franchises and national teams to preserve special talents like Mayank and support their growth.
Pat Cummins is a very good example of someone who came in as a teenager and found that the stresses of the game were too much for his particular technique and his body. He had to come out, rehabilitate, make himself different technically, and return a few years later. And as we've found out, Cummins has managed to build an exceptional career, where he has developed into one of the best fast bowlers and captains.
It would be a good idea for Mayank at the start of his career to have the inputs Cummins found he required. Whether it's Lucknow Super Giants, Mayank's IPL team, or the BCCI, they can undertake a project - not an experiment, mind you - to say, "This guy is a diamond. Let us see if we can allocate some sort of funding and see where this goes."
Give him a personal strength-and-conditioning trainer for, say, a year. Attach that person to him, not just have the player fly somewhere every six weeks for those resources. Maybe have another medical person on the panel as well. And perhaps a dietician too. Build him up.
You don't have to tell a guy what to do right. But I can tell a guy what not to do because I have made the same mistake. I can tell him what to do to avoid that. We don't have to leave a lot of these things up to players finding out through trial and error
Mayank will still be playing cricket through this, to be clear; just that this person is attached to him. See how that pans out after a year. You have the resources for an effort like this.
Whether in the future Mayank plays a lot of red-ball cricket, whether he plays all formats, or whether you keep him as a white-ball option you will be able to know after a year or two. So it is a worthwhile project, not only for India and LSG, but for the world game. This young kid, who is 21 now, by the time he's 23 or 24, when his body has matured, he can give you almost a decade of excellent fast bowling. That's one thing I'd like to see happen.
Alongside the physical development, it is also imperative that young fast bowlers like Mayank get to hear the right voices. I came through at a time when the great Malcolm Marshall was around. While I thought Marshall was one of the greatest tactical fast bowlers that I interacted with, I could only talk with him when we were on the field together or when we were in the dressing room together. Had I been able to access his insights more often, and while I was younger, it would have expedited my learning curve. I have no doubt about that.
So I get a little frustrated that icons like, say, Jasprit Bumrah, are not made to interact frequently with young fast men. When we hear Bumrah speak, we know that he understands the game. He's clear in his thinking and he's a great communicator. For the next generation, the Under-19 guys, and even for those who are playing alongside him, you could organise some formal Zoom meetings and have him share his wisdom with them. Bumrah doesn't have to fly everywhere; just utilise technology.
Let him talk through formal bowling plans, preparation, what he would do in certain situations. Let him talk through variations in pace and lengths, and how he sees the game. Expedite that learning curve. It doesn't have to be something that happens every month - half-yearly or quarter-yearly should work.
MS Dhoni is a similar example. Excellent captain. If you want to bring in your next generation of leaders, why not tap into his expertise? I'm not saying that these two gentlemen are the only people to talk to, but you get the drift.
I picked up something always from talking to Wasim Akram when Derbyshire played Lancashire at Old Trafford. I picked up a lot from Marshall, as I said. Michael Holding, when I met him briefly early in my career, gave me something that I had to sift through and that I could hold on to. You can give players a lot of inputs without overloading them with too many different opinions. This is like a university of fast bowling. Why not formalise it?
Kartik Tyagi might run into Bumrah after an IPL match and he might stand and talk to him for five minutes. We could do more than that. I thought Tyagi was someone who could have pushed on, but he has had injuries.
You don't have to tell a guy what to do right. But I can tell a guy what not to do because I have made the same mistake. I can tell him what to do to avoid that. We don't have to leave a lot of these things up to players finding out through trial and error.
Let us not only leave these things to playing a lot of first-class cricket and learning as you go, but let us supplement it from the outside as well. Let them play, but also let us help them with knowledge. It is time to start being a little bit more precise and determined in our development of players, especially if you have the resources for it.

Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop is now a commentator and presenter