Mohammad Shami excited statisticians after bowling his fourth maiden over during his debut game in the Delhi ODI against Pakistan on January 6. He was instantly looked upon as a pace find especially after his game-changing 48th over that helped India to restrict Pakistan to 157. He finished with 9-4-23-1.
However, Shami’s Bengal coach, WV Raman urged the followers of Indian cricket not to get obsessed with statistics. “Let’s not be too focused on the numbers. Indian cricket suffers from a fixation with statistics. We should try and look at players’ contribution has been to the team’s cause. Bowling four maidens was fine, but it should not be focused on too much.
“Let’s rejoice in the fact that here is a young man who has bowled exceptionally well. If he had bowled four maidens, but conceded say 60 runs in his remaining six overs, it wouldn’t have been of any use to the team,” Raman, who is on commentary duty for the Mumbai versus Baroda Ranji Trophy quarter-final at Wankhede Stadium, told MiD DAY yesterday.
Shami’s temperament stood out when the Indian bowlers were under tremendous pressure to defend a low total of 167 in 50 overs. Playing for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and bowling in pressure situations must have helped Shami to handle the pressure. But, Raman said: “IPL performances should be forgotten. It has become a norm nowadays that anything to do with international cricket — good, bad or ugly — is straightaway linked to IPL.
“It is not about which format you are playing. It is about the temperament after a certain point of time. International cricket is all about having temperament and handling pressure,” he said. Raman said Shami’s simple approach is helping him. “He is a simple guy with a simple approach. You give him the ball and he will bowl. A cricketer should not think too much especially if you are a bowler because the more ideas you get, the more inconsistent you will be. Too many ideas don’t help you to work on a plan. Hopefully, he will keep his approach the same throughout,” he said.
Back in 2010
Raman recalled Shami’s Ranji Trophy debut match against Assam in 2010 where he played on despite being down with dengue. “He thought it was just viral fever. He’s stayed off the field till lunch and played till tea. On the last day, he picked up three wickets on a flat deck. It was an indication of a guy who has the right attitude and the ability to go far.
“The good thing about Shami is, he hasn’t embarrassed the selectors at any level. He has made rapid strides after bursting on the domestic scene just three years ago. “These guys need to be given a longer rope and most importantly, they need to be looked after especially in managing the workload,” Raman concluded.