Jeff Thomson: Aggression is not about running up to the batsman and abusing him
Legendary former Australian fast bowler Jeff Thomson is of the opinion that ‘aggression’ in cricket comes from within, and that it is within a fast bowler that true aggression breeds. Thomson is currently in India, and was speaking at a press conference organised by the IDBI Federal Life Bowling Foundation in order to create awareness about their newest initiative, wherein Thomson would be training promising Indian fast bowlers in a three-week cricket coaching camp in Bengaluru in association with the Karnataka State Cricket Association.
A two-week camp was conducted by the foundation earlier in Mumbai and 8 bowlers were shortlisted thereafter to travel to Bengaluru and attend a three-week session under the able mentorship of Thomson. Selected bowlers from the foundation’s Karnataka camp, which commenced earlier this week, would also train under Australian.
After the conclusion of the Mumbai camp, two bowlers, Tushar Deshpande and Minad Manjrekar, and two others from Bengaluru, David Mathias, and Prisith Krishna were selected to travel to Australia to train for three more weeks at the Centre of Excellence, Cricket Australia under the mentorship of foreign coaches. This would be an excellent opportunity for these young bowlers to learn from some of the best men in the business and would go a long way in shaping their bowling careers and defining their cricketing future.
At the press conference, held at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Thomson was in a jovial mood and looked enterprising as he interacted with the dignitaries who were present to welcome him. Amongst the who’s who of the cricketing world present were Mr. Brijesh Patel, Honourable Secretary, Karnataka State Cricket Association, and Mr. Vighnesh Shahane, former Mumbai pacer and the CEO, IDBI Federal Life Insurance.
Young Karnataka spinner Shivil Kaushik, who made a name for himself after he featured for the Gujarat Lions in the 9th edition of the Indian Premier League held in April-May this year, was also present at the event.
Aggression comes from within: Thomson
Being one of the most fearsome fast bowlers of all time, and coming from Australia, aggression had always been a part of the fast bowler’s arsenal. However, several years have passed since Thomson last played for Australia and this date, and the term aggression has been given a completely different meaning in today’s age by the current generation of cricketers. Rampant sledging, aggressive gestures and eye-catching action for the cameras have become a part and parcel of today’s game, and it was in this context that he was asked about the true meaning of aggression that he wished to inculcate into the young fast bowlers that he was going to train.
He replied, “Aggression is not about running up to the batsman and abusing him. Rather, aggression comes from within. The bowler should feel it within himself that ‘I am the boss of this ground.’ This is how I would prepare the bowlers to behave.”
Thomson was a bit critical of the approach that the Indian fast bowlers exhibit towards fast bowling. He continued, “I’m sorry for the comparison and I don’t intend to criticise, but in the Indian conditions, fast bowlers are expected to depend on seam movement more than pace and wait for the ball to become old so that they can extract some reverse swing out of it. My approach to fast bowling is not typically Indian. My approach would be to bowl as fast as I could. The conditions are flat, the pitches are unhelpful, and the batsmen may hit me for boundaries. But the key is to hang on, to persist. Getting a couple of wickets would in itself be a reward on such surfaces."
"With that mindset and persistence, when a friendly surface comes your way, all of a sudden... boom! You get wickets in a flurry. You need to keep it in your mind that you’re here to bowl well, you’re here to dismiss the batsman. Don’t worry about the opposition. Irrespective of the outcome, the intent should be there, you must be focussed and keep coming at the batsmen ball after ball. That’s aggression.”
Thomson was somewhat befuddled after noticing the presence of so many cricketing talents in India. After all, from the hundreds of cricketers who participated in the camp in Mumbai, only 4 selected to travel to Australia. Noticing this, Thomson opined, “In Australia, it’s quite different. We might be playing well nevertheless, but we aren’t so many. So getting noticed is easier there. Here, in India, there are so many people. Hundreds of thousands of cricketers who play and that makes getting noticed very hard in this country."
The Australian concluded by conveying his best wishes to all the cricketers selected for the camp and also lauded Shivil Kaushik for his achievements in the Indian Premier League.