A lot of stuff they do flinging themselves on the field is a) very very expensive in terms of energy and b) very very dangerous. Is it worthwhile, for instance, sliding into the boundary hoardings if you are a bowler who is expected to bowl the next over. Is it worthwhile risking a fractured ankle to save two runs? I don"t know.
As regarding catching I don"t think the skill of catching is any better now. In my days Colin Cowdrey was a great catcher, Bobby Simpson was a great catcher, Norman O"Neal was a great cover fielder, Neil Harvey was a great cover fieldsman - a person who could hit the stumps side on from cover point, as could Norman O"Neal.
Interesting however that Neil Harvey and Norman O"Neal played baseball for Australia and in the 40s it was not uncommon for a baseball match to be played during the winter in Australia as prelude to a football match. A lot of cricketers took up baseball as a winter sport and were skillful enough to hold their own at baseball.
When I hear stories about modern fieldsmen being better I sometimes wonder would any modern fieldsman for instance be able, like Neil Harvey, to hit one stump that he could see from cover repeatedly as did Colin Bland. I think there is a lot of showmanship in modern One-day cricket where they fling themselves around. I know there was not as much exhibitionism, Jim Laker for instance took nineteen wickets in a Test match and I don"t think he kissed one of his team mates even once.
He just merely looked at his spinning finger and got along with the job. There was no hugging and cheering, just non-exhibitionism. I have seen many great fieldsmen I cannot accept that they were any inferior.
Do you think Indian fielding is now improved?
I have not seen too much of Indian sides on the field as much as I have seen on television of course. I don"t know, I would have to see them working at practice to see how they do their work. Theoretically, taking the evidence of preparation of modern One-day games one would have to say they have to be better and fitter than their predecessors.
What are the qualities you look for while spotting an upcoming bowler?
Depends on what type of bowler. The first quality I look for is commitment, dedication and a willingness to work and do everything beyond the call of duty. If the bowlers do not have that passion they are never going to make it. When I was a kid I used to practice well into the dark hours of the evening, you could barely see when we left the nets. I look for that sort of commitment. I look for the love of the game.
I look for natural talent such as the ability to bowl quicker than most, the ability to spin the ball more than most or the ability to swing more than most. I don"t look for length and control at all, the reason for that being I believe that you cannot coach passion in a bowler, you cannot coach natural talent or to do something better to a run of the mill bowler. You cannot teach a bowler to bowl extra spin or extra pace, which is natural to that particular bowler, but you can teach and coach length and line, which are controllable.
At times, a coach"s judgment of his trainee is proved wrong. What are the follies?
If a player is passed over by a coach and he turns out to be a good player, it reflects on the coach"s ability. Quite often you find a player who shines at the nets and doesn"t produce in the middle is deficient in some mental attribute. I refer you to C L R James - the West Indian cricket enthusiast and a political philosopher. He wrote in his book, Beyond The Boundary, you can have two players - both endowed with same degree of skill and strength, yet there is one indefinable quality, which separates the two.
One goes on to become a great player and the other remains a club player all his life. The greatness of a cricketer, he said, lies in his head. There is a lot of truth in that. If you find a player who is good in non-pressure situation you probably have a man there who lacks something in his mental attribute to become a great player. He lacks the mental strength, he lacks the mental toughness, he lacks the conscientiousness for practice, he lacks the ability to concentrate, and he lacks the various mental qualities where his mental attributes would make him a great player.
The same could be said about the fitness aspect. You might find whereas one player would work at his fitness the other wouldn"t work at his fitness. So the great player is the person who combines skill 80%, mental attributes 10% and fitness 10%. The player who doesn"t mature probably lacks 20%. He might have great talent, but he doesn"t have fitness and he doesn"t have mental strength and therefore he will never make it.
And you can look at the obverse of the coin when there have been plenty of people who have been moderately good players but mentally were giants. They were the ones who succeeded. That would account for why certain players don"t become great players. Again I would say if a coach passes over a player who turns out good then something is lacking in the coach"s judgment. And that"s not difficult that you just pass over one point and you make a wrong decision.