India vs West Indies 2013: Shami Ahmed brings fresh hope to India's bowling woes, but needs to be nurtured well

Shami Ahmed became the 279th cricketer to make Test debut for India © IANS

Mohammed Shami made his Test debut for India in the first match of the 2013 series against West Indies at Kolkata. Aayush Puthran feels that unlike the other Indian pacers of the last decade, the Bengal player needs to be handled with care for the long-term well-being of Indian cricket.

With every new ‘pace’ bowler in India there is a hope, there is a sense of unburdened responsibility, and the feeling of finding an answer that was long searched for. At the same time, there is a negative feeling to not let the bowler go on the same path that many of his processors did. Stories of the Munaf Patels, Ishant Sharmas and S Sreesanths among others aren’t the most heartening ones for Indian cricket. As Mohammed Shami became the 279th Indian to get a Test cap against the West Indies in the first Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, there was a renewed hope; albeit with a sense of caution that it should not follow the routine cycle.
He hasn’t gone through the grinds of First-Class cricket as much. Shami has been picked relatively as a new and raw commodity. He has been shown the confidence at a much earlier stage. The fact that he was selected ahead of Umesh Yadav and Ishant is simply an extension to that faith. What remains imperative is that the natural aggression is not curbed. For in India, there is no dearth of bowlers who can maintain a good line and length. But there are few who can swing the ball at a pace of above 140 kmph.
For bowlers like him, it is critical that they are not left to be nurtured by those who diffuse the natural fire in them. Maybe a constant watch from the likes of Dennis Lillee and Frank Tyson would do him good.
But the coaches would only be as good as Shami would want them to be. In the grueling cricket schedule that demands consistent performances, it is easy for him to be tempted to mellow down. It is here that the long-term planning of the team management would count. Or else, the system will continue to produce flawed results, much like it did in the past.
He has had an impressive start to his international career, but the pressures of international cricket are only bound to mount from here on. Thus it is important that he is managed well, for the long term benefit of the player and Indian cricket.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)