The story of Prasidh Krishna: Groomed in Australia, a fast bowler's dream takes flight
When Karnataka kicked off their campaign in September 2015, they were the undisputed champs in the domestic circuit. They had won back-to-back titles and were at the top of their game. As they lined up against the visiting Bangladesh A side at Mysore for a 3-day game, they were looking to take the game to an opposition that boasted a number of Test-level players in their ranks.
The hosts had one concern though – their skipper, Vinay Kumar, wasn't fit enough to take the field. Someone had to step up, and the cap was handed to Prasidh Krishna. All of 19, the fast bowler was going to make his first-class debut against an international side.
Bowling the second over in the innings, Prasidh ran in, delivered the first ball, and to everyone's astonishment, the unthinkable happened. Rony Talukdar edged it to second slip and the catch was completed. Prasidh had picked up a wicket off his very first ball on debut. As the game progressed, things only got better for him. He would go on to dismiss Anamul Haque, Liton Das, and Soumya Sarkar – all top-order batsmen in the Bangladeshi Test side. With figures of 5/40 from 12 overs, Prasidh was a revelation that day.
In a recent conversation with Sportskeeda, when asked whether he envisaged taking a wicket off his very first ball, he said, “I was never really worried about what was going to happen that day. My focus was on how I could prepare myself better, not on whether I would pick up wickets or not. I was just concentrating on what I should do, what my contribution to the team should should be. In a match, you can only control a certain number of things, such as where to pitch the ball or things like that. I did my warmup well before it started, and I was fortunate to get a wicket on the first ball. That made my confidence grow up.”
Soon enough, the selectors took notice. The teenager had the potential to go a long way, and within no time Prasidh was on his way to Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence. It was a fairy tale journey for a boy who had grown up playing multiple sports in school.
His tryst with the game started as a school boy where he joined his school team under the guidance of Srinivas Murthy at Carmel School in Padmanabhanagar. Prasidh confessed that he was a sports buff right from that early age, saying, “When I was in school, I used to be a part of everything. Be it athletics or volleyball, I was fond of sports to be exact.”
Sport is in Prasidh’s blood, his mother being a former national-level volleyball player. While speaking about his early days growing up in Bangalore, the 20-year-old added, “At home, they were okay with me doing whatever I wanted. They didn’t force me to study or play cricket, they just let me be whatever I wanted to be.”
Given such a free-reign, Prasidh excelled in cricket and when asked on when exactly he decided that he wants to make a future in the game, he said, “I had already played State U-14 when I was in school, after that I was more interested in playing cricket, so I stopped playing the other games. In college, there were a number of cricket games for me to play, so that became my primary focus.”
Prasidh was recently selected to undergo a high-intensity training program at Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence under the mentorship of legendary pace bowler Jeff Thompson. Speaking about his tenure there, he said, “It’s all about the experience you gain. It’s a different place, the weather conditions are different, the pitches are different, the entire culture of cricket is different. It was more about the experience there than any of the practical knowledge or any kind of knowledge given to my by anyone. He was keen to stress that the experience of playing in another country was what impacted him most during his training.”
While it is common knowledge that the weather conditions and the pitches are different, the fact that he mentioned that the entire cricket culture is different in Australia is what piqued my interest. Upon probing further about the difference he saw in his contemporaries there, he said, “To start off with, the bodies of the cricketers in Australia are way better than those in India. Their genes are different, their training techniques are way more advanced than here. Here, we start playing and once we reach the peak, we start doing the advanced training techniques. But there, they start off with the advanced stuff.”
That’s certainly food for thought for the administration here, with respect to grooming youngsters in India. While the country does produce a steady flow of quick bowlers, the trend over the years has seen quite a few bowlers fall by the wayside after making an early impression. During Prasidh's stint, he was under the close tutelage of Jeff Thompson, who was one of the most lethal fast bowlers Australia has produced. Speaking about the great fast bowler, Prasidh said, “He was very practical-oriented. He wouldn’t speak too much about what will happen in the match. He wouldn’t harp about technique. But he would speak more on how to get a batsman about, how to plan him out and take his wicket.”
Prasidh attributes a lot of his growth as a fast bowler to his time at the MRF pace academy in Chennai, where he was trained by another great Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath. When asked to compare the two legends and the impact they have had on him as a bowler, Prasidh calmly replied saying, “Cannot compare the two legends, McGrath and Thompson. Both of them have given me a lot to learn.”
While India boasts of some superb facilities like the NCA and the MRF Pace Academy, it has always been considered a tremendous opportunity for any youngster to train in Australia, which reportedly has one of the best sporting ecosystems in the world. But that belief may not necessarily be true.
Speaking about the facilities there, Prasidh said, “The facilities are pretty much the same. The only real difference is that they had a swimming pool which had both cold and hot water, which I had not seen anywhere in India. Other than that, everything is there in India, in MRF or the NCA. India is almost on par with Australia. Except for that pool, which might be there in a private setup, but not in a cricket academy here.”
Having had an opportunity to practise on some of the pitches in Australia, which suit seamers when compared to the rather slower pitches in India, Prasidh would have gained some invaluable experience. While the assumption remains that it is a disadvantage for seam bowlers to grow up in India, where the pitches offer more assistance to the spinners, Prasidh disagreed and said, “In India, we get to play so many games. In Australia, they don’t play as much as we do. We have to look at it in such a way that we gain more match experience than they do. They might be fit and slick, but when it comes to experience, we are better than them. The youngsters play a lot of games. On a dead wicket, we bowl so much. That’s better than practising on a seaming wicket.”
The Bangalore boy has modelled his bowling on Brett Lee, who was his favourite bowler growing up. He also enjoys watching Kevin Pietersen and Mahendra Singh Dhoni bat, and he could very well one day fulfill his dream of bowling to one of them.
Prasidh made a terrific impact in the one first-class game he played and was immediately called up to the Karnataka Ranji squad, for whom he is still waiting to play his first game for. When probed about the importance of being patient, he mused, “I always believe in working hard and being patient, that’s my motto. Everyone works hard and when it comes to you not getting an opportunity because there are others ahead of you, some people lose focus and say I’m not lucky and all.
“I don’t think that’s the right way to go. Because when you work hard, you are bound to get something through being patient. Whoever it is, something is going to come. One day, one game can do a lot to your career. Just be patient and keep working hard, because that one day will come when it really matters.”
Prasidh maintained a calm demeanour throughout the course of our conversation, his easy style of speech exuding confidence. But that's a much harder thing to do on the field – for a sportsman, at any level, one of the toughest things to do is get into their zone right before the game begins. Speaking about what he does to get in that zone, he said, “I always focus on being relaxed. I don’t want things to get in control of me, I want to control the things around me. I want to be the boss, I don’t want things to take over me in any situation. The rest is just warm-ups.”
On a lighter note, Prasidh remarked that he would have loved to have taken the wicket of Virender Sehwag if he had a chance. On his days off, he enjoys watching football, especially Manchester United games, being a fan of the club. He’s also a fan of gaming and loves playing Pro Evolution Soccer.
It’s only a matter of time before we see Prasidh Krishna come charging in, with a red cherry in his hand, a plan in his mind, the words of McGrath and Thompson ringing in his ears, ready to strike. He’s been brought up the right way, he understands the value of patience, he knows that opportunity only strikes once at the door, and he has shown that he can make it count when he matters. There’s certainly a bright future ahead for him.
Also Read: Pro Evolution Soccer 2017: Demo Review