Southampton: It was the second week of November last year; India were still coming to grips with the news of Sachin Tendulkar announcing his retirement.
As the little master took the field in his second last Test match, he was supposed to be the centre of attention but on the final day, Tendulkar was overshadowed by the local lad, Mohammad Shami.
The lad from Sahaspur blew away the West Indies to finish with match figures of 9-118 — the best figures on debut for an Indian fast bowler. Former greats such as Wasim Akram and Ian Bishop suggested Shami is destined to have long, prospering career.
Eight Test matches later, Shami's bowling average has already crossed 35, he hasn't taken a five-wicket haul since and inability to bowl consistent lines has frustrated even his adored supporters.
But the part of the game that is most annoying is his knack of dishing out a boundary ball at least once every over. Many a time the dreadful delivery has tended to be half volley on leg stump that ends up getting flicked to fine leg or the square fence.
In the current Test series against England, Shami has conceded 36 boundaries out of which 19 have come in the arc of midwicket to fine leg.
Shami's indiscipline can be illustrated by the fact that he has only bowled 47 maidens in 315 overs. That is once every seventh over. Shami has failed to tie the batsmen down or pick up wickets at regular intervals.
Bowling coach, Joe Dawes blamed Shami's inconsistency in his approach to the wicket. "If you watch his run-up closely, there are inconsistencies that creep into it throughout the over or even a spell."
Shami has turned into a bowler who is struggling with the basics of his game. It doesn't speak well for a bowler who was touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket.
Perhaps, the time has come to start work on the nuts and bolts in the nets rather than out in the middle.
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