Former Australian fast bowler Craig McDermott showers praise on Ishant Sharma
Joining the chorus of cricket pundits putting their weight behind India as the firm favourites in the four-match Test series against the West Indies, former Australian pacer Craig McDermott said that the visitors have the right mix of bowlers to trouble the Carribean batsmen in front of their own fans. Praising India’s pace department, the 51-year-old singled out Ishant Sharma as the one who has impressed him the most.
The first Test match at Antigua started earlier today with West Indies skipper Jason Holder lost the toss and was forced to bowl first and will hope to exploit the early bounce and purchase off the wicket. They have got an early breakthrough as well with Shannon Gabriel getting rid of Murali Vijay, but according to McDermott, it’s the Indian pacers that hold the edge in the series.
Despite his troubles in the shorter formats of the game, Ishant Sharma has been an ever-present in the Indian Test line-up and speaking on the day that marks the 2nd anniversary of India’s famous win at the Lord’s inspired by the tall Indian fast bowler, Mcdermott hailed Ishant for his selfless service for the team.
"I like Ishant Sharma. He has been a real workhorse for India. Look at the number of balls he has bowled at such young age (13,419 balls). There are times when he has bowled short as he is a tall guy. If he can hit the right length at that pace of 140-145 kmph, he can trouble the West Indies batsmen," McDermott said.
The 71-Test veteran is also impressed by the other Indian pacers and feels the genuine pace possessed by someone like Varun Aaron was always an asset for any skipper.
"I had seen Aaron when he came to Australia last time. He gets some shape with the ball which is a good thing. What I like about India is that they now have five genuine quick bowlers to fall back on," he said.
Talking about the various surfaces the teams will be playing the four Test matches, McDermott believes the visitors are well equipped to exploit whatever help the pitches offer.
"In West Indies, the length will be key as the wickets would not have much bounce. They are playing in Antigua where it will be low bounce. At Kingston in Jamaica, it has become very slow. In St Lucia, I remember Australia playing an ODI where there was fair bit of bounce. But this Indian attack I feel is well versed," he said.
Though he admitted that life as a bowler in modern-day cricket can be tough with pitches becoming more batsman-friendly and the ever expanding T20 format fuelling the urge for more and more attacking play, McDermott said that bowlers should put in more dedicated training to combat the threat. He picked out the example of someone like Mitchell Starc who he feels will only get better as he enters the peak years of his career.
“Yes, it's tough being a bowler with bigger bats, flatter pitches and balls not doing much,” he said. "I think that can't be an excuse. Doesn't Virat, Steve Smith play all formats and play successfully. Why can't bowlers do that? Hitting the channel boils down to practice.”
"Starc has developed as a complete bowler in red ball cricket. He can bowl reverse swing which is a big attribute. I am looking forward to the next five years which will be exciting. The years between 27-33 years," McDermott added.