Mohammed Shami (Image Credits: Twitter)
Mohammed Shami (Image Credits: Twitter)

Without a better term, Mohammed Shami’s 2018 tour of England was unfortunate. He persisted in beating the bat, but in 2021 he was among the wickets.

In an interview with Cricbuzz, bowling coach for India from 2014 to 2016 and from 2017 to 2021, Bharat Arun, discussed Mohammed Shami’s turnaround in England and the preparation that led up to it.

Mohammed Shami Keeps On The Pressure On The Batters Even When Not Picking Wickets: Bharat Arun

Mohammed Shami (Image Credits: Twitter)
Mohammed Shami (Image Credits: Twitter)

Talking to Cricbuzz, Bharat Arun shares about how Shami tried to make changes in his plan after just one ball which resulted in being inconsistent. The Indian bowling coach explained:

It’s important not to look at bowling in terms of outcome to be happy. We look at the overall process of bowling.  When Shami is beating the bat several times and not picking wickets, he keeps the pressure on the batters; they feel they have not overcome this bowling attack and it would allow the other bowlers to exploit.

But in the earlier tours, Shami would bowl one brilliant ball and then try to move the ball from legstump. In trying to do so, the angle of the wrist would change and the ball would go down the leg side, and most likely go for a boundary because you don’t have protection on the legside.

Of course, picking wickets is at the back of the mind for every bowler and you need to also plan for it, but if you are bowling very well and still not picking wickets, it can be a challenge to keep it going and keep building the pressure for your teammates.

It’s not about your own ability, it’s often about the team and about bowling partnerships. And what is going to define that? Being consistent.

We Worked On Mohammed Shami’s Consistency: Bharat Arun

Mohammed Shami, India vs South Africa
Mohammed Shami appeals. (Photo: Twitter)

Arun had conversations with Shami about how to create pressure on a batter. All starts from the practice nets and the match then become an extension of the nets. He elaborated:

So, the conversation (with Shami) was around how do you create pressure on a batter? It’s either by picking wickets or not giving away runs freely. We worked on his consistency. Because what you think you want to do and what you should do, it should be the same. You should be able to execute what you are thinking.

When you are at the top of your mark, you have to be very sure of what you want to execute. Then you are most likely to do what you are thinking. But if you are in doubt, the chances of you executing becomes that much less.

Coming back to what we do in the nets, it is exactly that. I stand there and they tell me what they want to bowl. Right from the time you are bowling in the nets, you need to think what you are going to execute. The cricket match then becomes an extension of your nets.  

The Magic Ball Never Happens: Bharat Arun

Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Shami
Mohammed Shami. Credits: Twitter

Mohammed Shami later realized that consistency is the key. Arun told him that the magic ball never happens and it’s in our hands where and what to bowl. He recalled the instance:

Shami later realized that in some games, picking up wickets becomes that much easier when he’s consistent. And if you look at all the great bowlers, there’s only one thing that doesn’t change.

The consistency level. They are economical and they pick wickets. In fact, they pick wickets because they are consistent. The job of a batter is to make runs; if you prevent him from doing that, no matter how well he’s playing or for how long he’s playing, it is pressure on them.  

As a coach in a place like England, where there’s consistent help on offer, does it become that much more difficult to convince bowlers not to go for the “magic ball” but instead be consistent?  

If you go for the magic ball and it happens, you just need them to get the opposition out. So the magic ball never happens. It’s you who create it, it’s you who create an environment for it by consistently exploiting what you are able to do.

And if you are focused on the outcome, like I said, there’s a disappointment. But if you are not focused on the outcome, there’s a lot of joy in beating the bat or keeping the batter in an uncomfortable zone. That is the big victory, wickets are just an outcome. 

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