Fast bowler says he would have got to 100 even if was playing all formats – but maybe not this quickly
It is easy to forget that Ishant Sharma, who will play his 100th Test this Wednesday, is only 32 years old. He has seen a lot of ups and downs at such a young age. Most importantly, he has kept working on his skill and fitness to turn around a career that at one point looked like one of the luckier ones. From there to leading India’s attack to being one of the best Test bowlers in the world over the last four years is a testament to his commitment and stubbornness.
Test cricket is Ishant’s world now, and the ongoing World Test Championship (WTC) is his World Cup. When asked if he can see himself going past Kapil Dev’s mark of 131 Tests – the most for an India fast bowler – Ishant said he wasn’t looking beyond qualifying for the WTC final.
“There’s a lot of time to 131,” Ishant said. “Right now I am only thinking about how we can win the next Test. And then the next so that we can qualify for the final of World Test Championship. I have only [one] format [to play in], so the WTC is like a World Cup for me. If we reach the final and then go on to win it, it will be the same feeling as winning the ICC World Cup.”
Ever since Ishant has stopped playing other formats for India though, he has been able to spend more time on his Test skills. One of the well-known improvements came about under Jason Gillespie at Sussex, where he learnt to bowl fuller without sacrificing on the pace, without floating the ball up there. Ishant acknowledged that missing other formats might have helped him, but he would have got to 100 Tests anyway.
“Obviously I want to play white-ball cricket,” Ishant said. “A sportsman’s only job is to play. What will he do if he doesn’t play? But I don’t think too much about the formats I miss. I only think about the format I am playing. How can I perform better in the format I am playing? How can I make my team win? If you think positively about a situation, it is easier to stay grateful and perform for the team.
“Maybe not playing three formats has helped me play 100 but I don’t think I wouldn’t have got there if I was playing other formats. I am only 32 after all, and not 42. Maybe I wouldn’t have got there this early, but I am sure the amount of time I have played and the way I stay fit and look after my conditioning, I would have played 100.”
“The sooner you forget things and move on in life, the better it is for you. This is the biggest lesson I have learned. If you are stuck on the past, you can’t move ahead.”
Over the years, Ishant has also understood his body better and has learnt to train smarter. “Thirty-eight is difficult to say as of now,” Ishant said when asked if he felt in his best shape and if he could continue playing as long as England’s James Anderson, another one-format bowler, has. “I just go one Test at a time. I don’t think too far because you never know. You just take it one game at a time. But, yes, I understand my body, what kind of training I need to do. Before also I used to train very hard but didn’t use to think about the recovery. But as you grow older and you have to bowl long spells, then you need to look after yourself. So, I am looking after myself.”
You can look after yourself the best possible way but you still can’t control everything. In the winter before this one, Ishant was looking at playing his 100th Test in Australia, but first an injury cut short his tour of New Zealand and then another – combined with Covid-19 restrictions – resulted in his missing the Australia tour altogether.
“I’d have loved to go to Australia and complete my 100 Tests there but there are things that are not in your control,” Ishant said. “Because of Covid restrictions, I couldn’t have made it in time. But the sooner you forget things and move on in life, the better it is for you. This is the biggest lesson I have learned. If you are stuck on the past, you can’t move ahead. The next match can also get affected by your past performance. I only keep trying to forget what has happened and focus on what lies ahead.”
What lies ahead is also a slow handing of the baton over to Jasprit Bumrah, who Ishant feels, will be the next leader of the attack. “I learnt a lot from Zak [Zaheer Khan],” Ishant said. “Especially his work ethic. He always used to tell me how important fitness is for a fast bowler. That’s what I kept in mind. That’s what I tell everyone in the team: keep working hard on your fitness and I am sure you will play longer.
“Jasprit Bumrah has to lead the way for the youngsters after me. The way he grooms the youngsters, the way he talks to them is important. [Navdeep] Saini has pace, [Mohammed] Siraj has control. Everyone’s skill is different. If you ask Saini to bowl in one area, you are not doing justice to his strength. If you ask Siraj to bowl consistently at 140, you are not backing his strength. So, it is important to understand their strengths first.”
So, which captain understood Ishant’s strengths the best? Ask not what your captain can do for you, ask what you can do for your captain, Ishant said. “More than the captain understanding me, it is important for me to understand what the captain wants from me,” he said. “If the communication is clear, things get easy for the team. The more time you spend with a captain, the communication gets easier.”
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
David Warner expects to live with pain of groin injury for most of the year
“it’s just getting back that confidence to sidestep and run as hard as I can and dive around again”
David Warner has said he may feel the effects of the groin injury that has interrupted his season for up to nine months but is hopeful that he is getting closer to a return to action.
Warner suffered the injury during the second ODI against India at the end of November and missed the final ODI, the T20Is that followed and the first two Tests. He returned to the side for the Sydney and Brisbane matches when far from fully fit after Australia had patched up their opening pair with an out-of-form Joe Burns and out-of-position Matthew Wade.
He scored 5, 13, 1 and 48 in his four innings before being named in the squad for the now-postponed tour of South Africa, a format where he believes the tempo makes the injury more manageable. It remains to be seen whether he is able to play for New South Wales over the next month before heading to the IPL to join Sunrisers Hyderabad for which he’ll need an NOC from Cricket Australia.
“I am almost back to full 100% sprinting in a straight line. This next week is getting back to fielding, picking up, throwing, very difficult that was [in the] last couple of weeks, even trying to throw,” Warner said during Fox Cricket’s coverage of the first T20I in Christchurch.
“Now it’s all about lateral, running between wickets, building that up. It’s just the tendon that has got that slight tear in it now. It’s going to aggravate me for the next six to nine months but I am sure the medicos will help me out there.”
“I have spoken to a few people that have actually had that type of injury and they have just said it’s a niggle. You have just got to teach your brain to not worry about the pain and that it’s not going to happen again. It’s just getting back that confidence to sidestep and run as hard as I can and dive around again. Once I get that, I will be right to go. It’s just not 100% there yet.”
Warner’s schedule during the Australian winter remains uncertain. The side could yet qualify for the World Test Championship final, scheduled for June 18, if results in the India-England series go their way and there is a limited-overs trip to the West Indies due to take place. Trips to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for T20Is ahead of the World Cup in India are pencilled in for September and October. He has also put his name into the draft for The Hundred.
If Australia do not make the WTC final, their next Test cricket may not be until the Ashes, which could be pushed back to a December start, although the Test against Afghanistan, which was postponed from this season, may be slotted in before that series.
Warner’s opening partner in the Sydney Test, Will Pucovski, has taken the opportunity of the likely lack of Test cricket to undergo shoulder reconstruction which will keep him out of action for up to six months.
Recent Match Report – Tasmania vs Queensland 2nd Match 2020/21
Tasmania bowled out for 237 after Stanlake picked up a career-best 4 for 24
Queensland 6 for 238 (Khawaja 93, Ellis 3-39) defeated Tasmania 237 (Silk 77, Stanlake 4-24) by four wickets
Stanlake took a career-best 4 for 24 ripping through Tasmania’s top four with extreme pace and bounce while Khawaja controlled the chase superbly with a classy 93, following on from his fourth-innings century in the Sheffield Shield clash on Saturday.
Stanlake set the game up after Queensland won the toss. He claimed all four wickets with short balls as Tim Paine, Caleb Jewell, and Mac Wright struggled to control hook and pull shots while Jake Doran gloved one through the keeper. When Marnus Labuschagne ran out Tom Andrews with a direct hit, the Tigers had slumped to 7 for 143 with 17.5 overs left in the innings.
But Jordan Silk came to the rescue continuing the superb form he showed in the BBL. He made 77 from 88 balls to hold the innings together. He put on 53 with Nathan Ellis who contributed 21. Jackson Bird then clubbed 27 from 25 balls to lift the total up to 237. Matt Kuhnemann took 3 for 47 for the Bulls, including the key wicket of Silk.
Khawaja then took charge in the chase. He put on a 53-run opening stand with Sam Heazlett and an 87-run stand with Joe Burns to break the back of the chase. Nathan Ellis returned for the Tigers to cause a few heart murmurs in the Queensland camp. He knocked over Burns and Khawaja in consecutive overs. But Jimmy Peirson steered the visitors home with 14 balls to spare.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne
Recent Match Report – New Zealand vs Australia 1st T20I 2020/21
Jhye Richardson and Kyle Jamieson, who earned big at the IPL auction, both line up in Christchurch
Australia won the toss and decided to bowl against New Zealand
Australia’s captain Aaron Finch won the toss and sent New Zealand in to bat in the first T20 international of a five-match series at Hagley Oval on the 10th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake.
The tourists called up Josh Philippe for his international debut after another strong BBL with the Sydney Sixers, having previously been a part of Australia’s extended squad for white-ball series against India and England last year.
Jhye Richardson is also back for his first T20I in Australian colours since dislocating his shoulder in a one-day series against Pakistan in the UAE prior to the 2019 World Cup.
New Zealand left out Hamish Bennett and Mark Chapman from their XI, which will feature Tim Seifert and Martin Guptill opening the batting with Kane Williamson to come in at No. 3. This will also be Kyle Jamieson’s first meeting with the Australians, after he fetched a hefty price at last week’s IPL auction.
New Zealand 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Tim Seifert (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway, 5 Glenn Philipps, 6 Jimmy Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Kyle Jamieson, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Trent Boult
Australia 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Matthew Wade (wk), 3 Josh Philippe, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Daniel Sams, 8 Ashton Agar, 9 Jhye Richardson, 10 Kane Richardson, 11 Adam Zampa
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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