India urgently require a genuine all-rounder

Written by: Shane Bond
Published: Thursday, September 8, 2005, 15:50 [IST]
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Despite our overwhelming defeat of India in the triseries cricket final, we reckon Sourav Ganguly's side can look forward to the next World Cup with hope. India remain a dangerous batting side but they can do with an allrounder or two. At the moment they have spinner-allrounders which probably would not be such a bad thing when playing in the West Indies.

They have good part-time spinners in Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag and this will only be bolstered once Sachin Tendulkar returns to the fold. The conditions in Caribbean would be similar to the pitch we faced in the triseries final in Harare.

But India still need a quality quick bowler who can also be a genuine batsman at number six spot. If you can have somebody like Chris Cairns and Jacob Oram, guys who are basically two cricketers in one, you would have a genuine advantage over others. On the other hand, we probably need to unearth bowlers like Tendulkar and Yuvraj.

The present One-day season has just started to roll but early indications suggest that along with Australia, England, South Africa and Pakistan are three other sides who have made advances. I genuinely feel that in the next World Cup, any of the top eight sides could lay its hands on the trophy.

We presently have a squad, which, if it remains together and is injury-free at the time of the World Cup, could work wonders. It would be wrong to say that a few of our guys could be getting along in years around 2007. You need youth as much as experience to cover all eventuality.

Nathan Astle on Tuesday was a case in point. Australia, for example, also has a side where a lot of guys are over 30. But I must admit that there are a few in our side who feel the 2007 World Cup could well be their swan song.

There is little denying I want to be a part of the next World Cup. It is one of my ambitions, as it is to finish with at least 100 Test wickets and 150 One-dayers. If I am injury free there is a good chance I would do it.

I realise as everyone else does that fast bowlers' have a shorter career compared to a few other vocations in the game. But from the days since I got filled and stronger in my body, I have always wanted to bowl fast. I am sure a day would come when I wouldn't be able to do it but at the moment it remains the high passion of my life.

If I have to name one fast bowler from the modern era whom I admire then it has to be Brett Lee. He bowls his deliveries at a good pace, can bowl outswinger and is aggressive without being abrasive. I've played against him, watched him bowl and admire him hugely.

My return to international cricket has been good and man of the series tags in both Tests and One-dayers is a good way to finish a tough tour. These are tough conditions for a fast bowler in Zimbabwe, it is very dry and after a workout you feel sensation in your lungs.

I have probably been losing out on my conditioning and aerobic exercises and it's because of the nature of food and energy you could muster here. I like to have carbohydrates and lot of liquids to go through three and a half hours of session. Frankly, I have found it difficult to have my energy going in the second spell.

Whether in Tests or One-dayers, I try to bowl similar. I like to keep it simple, bowl in the channel and don't worry much about anything else. I have been trying to bowl slower balls on and off and it fetched me a couple of wickets in the triseries. There are other aspects where I am trying to improve myself.

As for rating the two forms of the game, I find merit in both. While Test cricket is a true test, One-day cricket brings its own excitement: exciting finishes and packed stands working up a huge din. It keeps adrenalin running.

As we head home, we take delight in winning the triseries which is only our fourth series win away from home: some achievement this even though we were always going to make the finals. Still we look at beating India in the finals as a big deal. We would like to keep on improving and be a real contender for the next World Cup.

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