Umesh Yadav first practised with leather balls at the age of 20
The 25-year-old played with rubber and tennis balls as a youngster.
What's the story?
Indian pacer, Umesh Yadav, recently revealed that the first time he got the opportunity to play leather-ball cricket was at the age of 20.
"When I started off, I used to play with tennis and rubber balls. So, I had a good idea on how to use it. But I found the leather ball hard to comprehend because I had started playing with it at an older age. Initially, for the first couple of years, I found the going very tough with the leather ball. Some balls would swing away while some would automatically swing in," said the fast-bowler in an interview with bcci.tv
Yadav is now one of the premium pacers of the Indian team in Tests and has cemented his place in the playing XI. The right-handed bowler talked about how his coaches helped him adjust to the seam and swing of the unfamiliar leather ball once he got a chance to train with it.
"I would bowl it straight and while some balls would come in, others would swing away and I would be confused as to what is happening. Then my coaches told me that it was a normal thing and not something to worry about. The coaches told me that things would fall into place with time and I should first focus on bowling in the right areas. Initially, I would be wayward but you have to realise that I first held a leather ball at the age of 20," he added.
In case you didn't know...
Yadav made his international debut against Zimbabwe in 2010. He was a raw bowler who struggled to control his fast-paced deliveries back then.
However, he is now India's most consistent fast-bowler across all formats of the game and has more than 190 international wickets to his name.
The 25-year-old also said that it was challenging for him to make it big as a cricketer, considering his background. Born in Vidarbha, Yadav jumped at the first chance that he got and hasn't looked back since.
Yadav also added that he always knew that pace would be his USP. Further, he added that there are many who can bowl in the range of 130-135 kph but very few who can touch 140.
He also added that following a proper fitness regime, recovery schedule and diet is extremely important for a bowler to survive in the international arena.
India's third and final Test against Sri Lanka will commence on August 12 and Yadav, like always, will be the bowling spearhead of the side.
Ravindra Jadeja has been suspended from the Test after earning six demerit points from the ICC, and it looks like Kuldeep Yadav will finally get to play his second international Test tomorrow.
In spite of first bowling with a leather ball at the age of 20 (in 2008), Umesh's career was not adversely impacted. It also saw Umesh going up the ranks at a rapid pace as he went on to represent India in 2010, just two years after he first bowled with a leather ball.
Credit has to be given to the Vidarbha pacer for working hard on his game and making his dream become a reality. At the moment, he is India's best fast bowler in Tests.
Hopefully, Yadav keeps getting better in all three formats of the game and manages to remain injury-free over the course of his hopefully long career.