Legendary Australia fast bowler Jeff Thomson didn’t mince his words when he outlined how he planned to coach a group of about 30 young bowlers for the Mumbai Cricket Association.
“I am a bit annoyed with the way cricket is being coached these days,” Thomson said at a press conference in the Taj Lands End, Bandra. “There is a lot of false coaching going on. It is about making the kids think for themselves. I got to make them do what I do.
“You’ve got to work out plan A, B & C [for a batsman]. If things don’t work, you have to figure it out yourself.”
Thomson, who took 200 Test wickets from 51 Tests and terrorised a generation of batsmen with his pace, will be spending a month in Mumbai at the MCA-IDBI Federation Life Insurance Bowling Federation, the MCA’s latest attempt to discover and groom the next generation of Mumbai bowlers. In the 1990s, the MCA (then known as the Bombay Cricket Association), ran the Mafatlal Bowling Scheme spearheaded by former England fast bowler Frank Tyson. Thomson hasn't seen any of the bowlers in person yet but has watched video footage of them in action.
“It is a challenge,” Thomson said. “[But] I like challenges. I am a person to whom you don’t say you can’t do something because I will turn around and do it.”
For Thomson, the keys to being a good fast bowler are skills and attitude. A bowler has to be able to put six balls an over where he wants. “You can’t worry about the shots batsmen play – batsmen play all kinds of silly shots these days,” he said.
Asked about Virat Kohli’s statement that an angry fast bowler is a captain’s delight, Thomson wholeheartedly agreed.
“Definitely. You can’t be a nice guy. You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve can’t say that was a good shot and applaud the batsman. You have to want to get him out. You’ve got to want to be No. 1. You’ve to want to be the best. To be better than the guy sitting next to you.
“You have to have that desire. Otherwise you are just wasting your time.”
Thomson said he wouldn’t be focusing on players' fitness. That’s for other people on the staff. His job was to teach the players the “tricks of the trade” and to be “strong mentally” so they don’t wilt when a batsman goes after them and can put a bad ball behind them immediately.
Asked for his opinion of India’s fast bowlers, Thomson said that on the evidence of India’s tour to Australia in 2014-15, they lack skill and discipline. “Their concentration would drop off,” he said, and the they would spray the ball around as a result.
He also said that Ishant Sharma “is not what he should have been” after making an impressive debut in 2007-08 in Australia. “I thought he could be a world beater,” Thomson said. “He needs a rocket, if you know what I mean.”
Thomson made it clear he wasn’t a big fan of players spending a lot of time in the gym. “Cricket is all about skills. I don’t know what skills you pick up in the gym,” he said. He added that if a particular bowler needed to get stronger physically, then going to the gym was useful, but otherwise the path to becoming a better bowler was to bowl.
“There is no replacement for actual bowling,” Thomson said. “It is the same for a snooker player or a darts player. To get better, they spend eight hours at the snooker table or throwing darts. They don’t go to the gym."
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