Left-arm En­ter­tain­ment

Kuldeep Yadav will likely play his first over­seas Test against Sri Lanka and he’s one to watch out for

The Economic Times - - Economy: Macro, Micro & More - Anand Vasu,

When Australia toured In­dia not long ago, and Kuldeep Yadav played a ster­ling hand, on his de­but, to help In­dia win the fi­nal Test in Dharamsala, a storm broke out in a tea cup. A mem­ber of the Australian me­dia party, of Chi­nese des­cent, did not take too kindly to the term used to de­scribe Kuldeep’s left-arm wrist spin. Ever since El­lis “Puss” Achong, the West In­dian crick­eter, dis­missed Wal­ter Robins, the English bats­man, with a de­liv­ery of this kind back in 1933, cricket has adopted the term. Robins is sup­posed to have said: “Fancy be­ing done by a bloody Chi­na­man.” While Robins’s ut­ter­ance might have its ori­gins in un­in­tended racism, cricket cer­tainly has no such is­sues with the term. When Kuldeep first be­gan to bowl in this style — it came nat­u­rally to him — he did not even know it was called a chi­na­man. But, in th­ese days of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, the slight­est sug­gest­ing of racist un­der­tones is frowned upon.

For­tu­nately for Kuldeep, the Aus­tralians are all safely back home, even the ones of Chi­nese ori­gin who took um­brage, and when he plays his sec­ond Test match, most likely against Sri Lanka in Pallekele, Kuldeep can take the park know­ing his hosts have no prob-

For me the wicket doesn’t mat­ter. I don’t see the wicket at all. In child­hood I used to bowl on ce­ment wick­ets and there can be no bet­ter wick­ets [for bat­ting] than ce­ment wick­ets

lems with the ori­gins of the term.

Coin­ci­den­tally, Sri Lanka have a young bowler of the same kind in their ranks, Lak­shan San­dakan, and if he is picked in place of the rested Ran­gana Herath, you could have two chi­na­man bowlers play­ing in the same Test.

And it would be quite apt if that hap­pened in Sri Lanka, the home of Shehan Karunati­laka, the au­thor whose fic­tion­alised com­men­tary on cricket and Sri Lanka by the name Chi­na­man was re­ceived to great ac­claim. You can be pretty sure Kuldeep has not read that par­tic­u­lar book, but his mixed bag of tricks will be tough for Sri Lanka’s bats­men to read.

There’s a bub­bly en­thu­si­asm to Kuldeep, a bouncy char­ac­ter on and off the field, and he is not the kind to be frus­trated at hav­ing not played for so long. “Ob­vi­ously there is ex­cite­ment. I was ex­cited to play my de­but Test as well so if I get a chance to play in Sri Lanka I will be very happy be­cause I have been work­ing hard and this will be a re­sult of that. But also there is ner­vous­ness that I should be able to per­form,” said Kuldeep in Kandy for the fi­nal Test.

Kuldeep’s ca­reer is just about be­gin­ning but al­ready he has Vi­rat Kohli’s back­ing and this goes a long way in help­ing prac­tice a dif­fi­cult art. “Ob­vi­ously if the captain be­lieves in you then you have done half your work,” said Kuldeep. “He sup­ported me com­pletely in the West Indies and the way he talks to the play­ers on the ground, the way he spoke to me in the ODIs, it felt very nice be­cause the captain’s con­fi­dence is the big­gest thing.” When asked if he was a touch con­cerned on bowl­ing on an over­seas pitch for the first time in a Test match, Kuldeep could not help him­self. “For me the wicket doesn’t mat­ter. I don’t see the wicket at all. In child­hood I used to bowl on ce­ment wick­ets and there can be no bet­ter wick­ets (for bat­ting) than ce­ment wick­ets,” said Kuldeep. “It is chal­leng­ing be­cause there is more bounce on grassy wick­ets and the ball skids a lot as well. Spin­ners get some ad­van­tage as well even if there is not much turn.”

It is this in­fec­tious joy of play­ing cricket that Kuldeep takes onto the park. And it should come as lit­tle sur­prise that the pro­tag­o­nist of Karuna­ti­ake’s novel, WG Karunasena, known sim­ply as Wije, should take a sim­i­lar out­look. “I have been told by mem­bers of my own fam­ily that there is no use or value in sports... Left-arm spin­ners can­not teach your chil­dren or cure your dis­ease. But once in a while, the very best of them will bowl a ball that will bring an en­tire na­tion to its feet. And while there may be no prac­ti­cal use in that, there is most cer­tainly value.”

Kuldeep is liv­ing those lines.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.