As one of the pace spearheads for the Indian cricket team in the 1990s, Venkatesh Prasad knows what it needs to be a fast bowler in India. The 48-year-old former Indian pacer was in Chandigarh to select the winner of the Red Bull Speedster Challenge, where eight fast bowlers featured in the final with Indian U-19 fast bowler Arshdeep Singh too appearing for the challenge. Prasad, who was the chief junior selector for BCCI till March this year, was the bowling coach for Kings XI Punjab in this year’s IPL and the former fast bowler was all praise for the upcoming bowlers in India.
“There is a lot of talent in fast bowling in India and youngsters are showing a lot of promise. When I was the chief junior selector, we picked up bowlers like Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who impressed all in the ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand. Their ability to try the variations and handle pressure situations was something which helped them. A fast bowler’s role in the team is all about understanding what the team requires apart from understanding the situation of the game. That’s how fast bowlers need to play the role and it also depends on their awareness of the game. What is important for a fast bowler is their ability to adapt to different situations,” shared Prasad, who featured in 33 Test matches and 161 ODIs for the Indian cricket team.
Prasad, who shared the new ball with Javagal Srinath during the 1990s, is best remembered for his spell against Pakistan in the quarter-final of the 1996 World Cup, in which he dismissed Pakistan opener Aamir Sohail. The former Karnataka player took 96 wickets for India in Tests apart from 196 wickets in ODIs and also worked as the bowling coach of the Indian cricket team. With T-20 cricket emerging as the most popular format of cricket in the last one decade, Prasad still believes that a player’s potential is judged by the longer format of the game.
“For me, to term a player successful depends on his performance in the longer format of the game. I come from the old school of thought and some may differ from my thoughts. It is not that I don’t like the shorter format but the point is that there is lot which is needed to excel in the longer format. Smartness, fitness apart from the tactical aspect of the game plays a part in success in Test matches and I feel a player, who performs in the longer format, will be more suited to any form of the game,” said Prasad.
The former pacer also believes that Indian fast bowlers have done well on the international stage in the last five years and thinks Bhuvneshwar Kumar has showed his class at the world level.
“Bhuvneshwar Kumar is one of the bowlers who has impressed me. He was part of the Uttar Pradesh team when I was the coach of the team six years ago and he has been able to adapt to different conditions. He tries a lot of variations in his bowling and that makes him impressive,” concluded the former pacer.