Tirunelveli, August 11: Three former India cricketers from Tamil Nadu – Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Sadagopan Ramesh and Laxmipathy Balaji – who watched the 4thSankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League closely, choose the top spinners, batsmen and fast bowlers who they felt have the potential to make it to the next level. The former India stars, who were part of the TNPL commentary team, explain why they made these choices and also what it takes to be a top-level batsman, spinner and fast bowler.
Sadagopan Ramesh’s picks
(former India opener, left-handed batsman)
Narayan Jagadeesan(Dindigul Dragons’ wicketkeeper, opening batsman. Matches 7, Runs 361, Average 90.25, Strike Rate 143.82, Highest score 105 not out)
He’s very consistent and I’m very surprised by the way he has been scoring runs for his team time and time again. It’s not an easy thing to be a dependable player for your team because they expect you to give the performance consistently and he’s been doing that for the past four years in TNPL, which is amazing
KB Arun Karthick(Siechem Madurai Panthers’ opening batsman. Matches 7, Runs 281, Average 46.83, Strike rate 146.35, Highest score 106)
Another explosive batsman and he’s an entertainer. It’s difficult to keep an average of 45+ especially for an explosive player because you’re always taking chances. To be consistent with that kind of batting style is amazing.
Baba Aparajith(VB Kanchi Veerans’ top order batsman. Matches 7, Runs 229, Average 45.80, Strike rate 115.66, Highest score 76 not out)
Aparajith is a next level player. If at all I have to choose somebody to play for the country from this group, it would be Aparajith. Because he's a combination of Jagadeesan and Arun Karthick. He can do the big hitting and also grind the bowling and get those runs.
C Hari Nishaanth(Dindigul Dragons’ left-hand opening batsman. Matches 7, Runs 238, Average 47.60, Strike rate 132.22, Highest score 81 not out)
I should be choosing a left hander because I am also a left-handed batsman myself! Hari Nishaanth is a very good talent but again he has to convert that into big numbers. I’m sure he’s going to get there. He’s got the style and time to play the fast bowlers.
Suresh Lokeshwar(VB Kanchi Veerans’ top order batsman. Matches 5, Runs 188, Average 62.67, Strike rate 111.9, Highest score 51)
He’s a pocket dynamite, who reminds me of Bangladesh wicketkeeper batsman Mushfiqur Rahim. I never watched him play before only until this TNPL. He’s very consistent and surprised me with his big hitting. I thought he’s probably a batsman who’s going to grind it out but his shot selection and timing is amazing.
Expert advice:Young batsmen today are excited about hitting boundaries and sixers but let me tell you that’s not going to help you get to the top of the ladder. It’s all about numbers, fifties and hundreds. Gone are the days when you say ‘knock the doors of selectors,’ now you have to ‘break the doors’ with huge scores of double hundreds or hundreds, wherever you can get those numbers.
Laxman Sivaramakrishnan’s picks
(Former India leg-spinner)
Ramadoss Alexandar(Chepauk Super Gillies’ left-arm spinner. Matches 7, Wickets 11 wickets, Average 10.00, Economy rate 4.71, Best bowling 5-9)
Alexandar impresses me as a limited overs bowler. He’s very good, very steady. Not a big turner of the ball but he bowls stump to stump and he bowls a very good line and length. He hardly gives any loose balls, so he creates pressure on the batsmen.
Munnusamy Silambarasan(Dindigul Dragons’ left-arm spinner. Matches 7, Wickets 10, Average 18, Economy rate 6.92, Best bowling 4-13)
Silambarasan is a better package for me. He’s young and an outstanding fielder. His commitment to the game is fantastic and he’s a very good bowler, with age he will only mature. He’s just a 21-year-old and the more he plays under captains like Ravi Ashwin, I think Silambarasan will improve very quickly. A key ingredient for any bowler is to have a clean action and he’s got that. He’s got the potential and has a good captain in Ashwin so I’m pretty hopeful that he’ll go a long way.
Ajith Ram(Lyca Kovai Kings’ left-arm spinner. Matches 6, Wickets 6, Average 19.66, Economy rate 5.9, Best bowling 2-12)
Ajith Ram is a kind of a bowler who is very steady and again more of a limited-overs specialist. I like to see somebody work with him so that he tries and imparts more spin on the ball and be able to turn the ball on any pitch. Bowlers like Ajith Ram who are on the taller side will get an extra bit of bounce. When I say turning the ball I’m not talking about turning it for 2 or 3 feet, but just six inches. The margin of turn is very minimal, between the middle of the bat and edge of the bat. So, I think Ajith has to work on the art of bowling slower through the air, imparting a lot of spin and he’ll be able to get turn and natural bounce as well.
A Venkatesh (Tuti Patriots’ leg-spinner. Matches 3, Wickets 4, Average 20.5, Economy rate 8.2, Best bowling 2-18)
I think he has a big heart. This leg-spinner bowls a slow googly, which means he’s not worried about getting hit. You see spinners bowl quicker through the air because they’re apprehensive about getting hit. But, this guy Venkatesh bowls slower through the air. He’s a useful batsman and being a leg spinner he’ll be useful in shorter formats of the game.
Expert advice:All these bowlers will make an impact but they all need the right guidance and the right exposure. All these spinners have been encouraged to bowl in T20 mode. T20 mode is all about lot of dot balls, firing it in, bowling flat, flat in the sense of height and trajectory of the ball and not the speed. The misconception with lot of spinners these days is that when you are asked to bowl a flatter trajectory, they think that they have to bowl quicker through the air. You could still bowl flatter through the air and vary your pace. Somebody like Krunal Pandya does that beautifully. He bowls flatter, his trajectory is flatter but he can vary his pace anything from 85-95 kmph. Daniel Vettori (New Zealand left-arm spinner) used to do that. There are times when you bowl slower through the air and batsmen get into the shot a little early, therein lies a little chance of a return catch or a catch at cover or extra cover. Spinners should work on lot of variations and they need to use the crease to good effect, going wide of the crease, coming close to the stumps, creating different angles…. They should be able to assess the match situation to keep the batsmen thinking. Always remember, bowlers are the ones who are proactive, batsmen are reactive. You ask any batsmen he’ll say I’ll look at the release, line and length to decide what shot to play. So, you as a bowler don’t need to worry what a batsman is going to do. Your job is to bowl a good ball and if you bowl a good ball, nine out of ten times you’ll be successful.
(former India fast bowler)
Ganeshan Periyasamy(Chepauk Super Gillies’ fast bowler. Matches 7, Wickets 13, Average 13.69, Economy rate 6.84, Best bowling 2-9)
He’s got a Malinga kind of action, a round-arm action that is unique, which you don’t get to see in modern day cricket. At the same time he’s playing his first year and his performances show us how temperamentally strong he is at this level, so he’s my first pick.
Gowtham Thamarai Kannan(VB Kanchi Veerans’ fast bowler. Matches 5, Wickets 8, Average 19.87, Economy rate 9.93, Best bowling 3-40)
A tall and high-arm bowler, who can be suited for all formats of the game. He’s got the potential as well because he runs hard and gets the ball to zip through, off the wicket.
Rahul Dev(Chepauk Super Gillies’ fast bowler. Matches 6, Wickets 3, Average 50, Economy rate 7.14, Best bowling 1-19)
Periyasamy and D. Rahul combine together as good bowling partners. But, what I like with Rahul is the zip he generates off the wicket, it hurries the batsmen. He’s not a powerful runner but he generates off the wicket speed.
Raghupathi Silambarasan(VB Kanchi Veerans’ fast bowler. Matches 5, Wickets 6, Average 15.16, Economy rate 6.5, Best bowling 5-17)
Silambarasan is again a slingy-bowler, who was in the Tamil Nadu set up recently. He has developed into a decent bowler than what he was a couple of years ago. He comes from a very ordinary background and the way he has worked and come up to this level is phenomenal.
Kiran Akash(Siechem Madurai Panthers fast bowler.Matches 7, Wickets 14, Average 13, Economy rate 6.74, Best bowling 3-16)
He’s got a powerful open-chested action. He reminds me of the West Indies’ bowlers of the 80s and 90s … tall, well-built, say a Collin Croft kind of bowler.
Expert advice:It’s still an early stage for all these bowlers but they have got a lot of potential and all they need to do is develop different skill sets over the years. Because, it’s not only new ball, swing bowling and condition-oriented bowling, it’s also about how you evolve as a bowler over a period of time. Fitness for a fast bowler is very important, you need to have a cardio muscular ability to sustain 90 overs of form. I’m a great believer of endurance running. Modern day cricket we get to see lot of gym. Yes, we need gym workout, but a very mandatory thing is running fitness. Because most of the time you’ll be moving forward as a fast bowler, you generate pace by momentum.
Fast bowlers must bowl in all formats. I believe that if you bowl a lot, you improve a lot.
The more you bowl in a match, the more it will help in understanding your own bowling.