New Delhi, Jan 24: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni may have given a long rope to an erratic Ishant Sharma but his indifferent performances came in for sharp criticism from former players who said it was high time the lanky paceman was dropped as he has "stopped learning".
The former players said that Ishant has now played more than 50 Tests and such a poor display from him could no longer be accepted as it was affecting the teams performance.
Former Indian seamer Madan Lal and noted fast bowling coach TA Sekar said that there are "plenty of mistakes" that need to be rectified if the Delhi speedster wants to regain form of 2007-08.
"I don't know whether it is about pressure of performing or not but Ishant has stopped learning. He is not a 'baccha' (kid) anymore. He has played over 50 Test matches and he should have been a strike bowler and leader of pace attack", Madan Lal, a former India coach and national selector told a leading agency.
"I think it's high time that Indian team management tries out Ishwar Pandey. You have to pick bowlers, who would win games for you. Look at Mohammed Shami. When he runs in, you feel that he is going to get wickets for you. I don't get that feeling when I see Ishant bowling," he said.
25-year-old Ishant has got only 149 wickets in 53 Test matches and has a strike-rate as low as 69.7 (nearly 11.3 overs) per wicket while average runs per wicket is nearly 40 (38.81). He has only three five-wicket hauls in 53 Tests so far.
In one dayers, Ishant has got only 102 wickets from 72 ODIs with an economy rate of close to 6 run per over (5.72) and not a single five-wicket haul. In fact, he has got four wickets only four times in 72 ODIs.
Asked about what kind of problems he is having, Lal, who has also been Delhi coach and a hero of the 1983 World Cup winning sqaud, said that the gangly pacer was trying to stop runs which is not possible.
"If you try to stop runs, it can never happen in international cricket. You have to pick wickets and know the art of dismissing batsmen. Ishant is not trying to pick wickets. He is simply not pitching the ball in right area and trying to bowl too fast," Lal explained.
Sekar, who has been legendary Dennis Lillee's assistant for over two decades at India's pace bowling cradle MRF Pace foundation feels that the bowler is just "putting the ball rather than bowling it".
"There are two many mistakes in his bowling. Firstly, he is just putting the ball rather than bowling it. His turnover timing while delivering the ball is wrong while he doesn't have his wrists and fingers right behind the seam as it should be," Sekar, who has worked with premier fast bowlers like Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, Zaheer Khan at MRF pace academy, said.
"As far as turnover is concerned it happens as the bowler loads up for the delivery. The latest that you can have is below the shoulder level while ideal is below the waist level. For Ishant, it is beyond the shoulder level and above," Sekar, who had once corrected Brett Lee's technical problem on his guru Lillee's advice, commented.
Sekar is also critical about Ishant not being able to get movement as "he doesn't hold the seam in between the fingers".
"In order to get nip off the pitch, you need to have the seam position in between fingers. When you deliver the ball, then it would 'back-spin' in the air and after landing would show movement," Sekar added.
Both Lal and Sekar feel that bowling coach Joe Dawes needs to address these mistakes that have crept in Ishant's bowling.
"I don't think a bowling coach's job is to wear those big gloves during the break and gather the balls or jog a round or two with the players. I am not very sure also whether Ishant knows about what are the mistakes that are there in his bowling," Sekar said.