POLLOCK’S REPORT CARD
Cricbuzz Staff •
Jasprit Bumrah learnt well on the go and his adaptability held him in good stead during the Tests in South Africa. © BCCI
India have bagged the six-match ODI series with a game to spare, making it their first ever bilateral series win in South Africa. However, when the tourists look back at the Test series, they would view it as a chance missed. Former South Africa fast bowler Shaun Pollock expressed his views about how India fared in the longer format, their bowlers picking all 60 wickets in the series, showing confidence in Jasprit Bumrah the Test bowler and more.
On India’s performance in the Test series…
I was a little bit surprised by their batting when they came on this tour. I thought it was going to be their strength. I was a bit disappointed by the way they went. Looking back I think they have identified that preparation wise they needed to be here for more time. I supposed it goes down to what are the actual goals you want to achieve. If you want to win Test series away from home, then you have to give them more priority, and priority means more preparation. So I think going out to England… we have heard some guys are going to play county cricket so preparation wise I think they will be better equipped. When they go to Australia, it’s the same point, it just takes time, we have seen they are settled in [now] and in the ODIs they looked comfortable.
Probably they could have structured the tour better and had ODIs before the Tests that could have been better preparation for you guys but I think practice matters, you need to have two practice matches and have a guarantee that you are genuinely a good opposition than just developing players, you have to set your goals. Is it a great thing to win the ODI series or is it a great achievement to come and win a Test series in South Africa which you haven’t done, and maybe that’s where the priorities haven’t met the same preparation.
On India’s bowlers getting all the 60 wickets in the series…
You always need to look at things from different perspectives, [they] got 60 wickets and that’s fantastic. But you also have to look at surfaces that they have played on. Hardest one to get wickets was Centurion, but the other two there was plenty of assistance so you are going to bowl teams out when you have got surfaces like that, particularly of the fact that India bowled first most of the time. But yeah, I am impressed with your stock. It’s the first time you have that… you have had 5-6 guys that can be picked and played, and [have] done a good job. In the past India have relied only on Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan, or somebody like that, but now you have had a good balance to the attack and even the spinners who played did a good job. So the bowling was good and if you can keep those bowlers as a group there is no reason why India can’t be successful in England and Australia where the fast bowlers will have to do a job.
On how would Pollock have bowled to Virat Kohli…
Haven’t thought much about how I would bowl to him, but yeah he has been great, hasn’t he? He has scored runs in the Tests and brought some wonderful form to the ODI arena. He is a class player and I saw an interview with him at the start of the tour and he was talking about looking to engage in South Africa and back himself in these conditions. That positiveness and approach paid off for me, he wasn’t fearful of the conditions and he was wanting to grind out performances and he obviously came here with the right mindset. When I heard that interview, I thought the rest of the batting group would have been similar, but there wasn’t anyone else who supported him particularly in the Tests.
He has had some guys support him in the ODIs that’s why India have been so good. South Africa have missed Faf du Plessis in ODIs because he is very good in the middle overs and can play spin well. Quinton [de Kock] at the top and AB [de Villiers] in the first three games would have made a difference. It is a slightly depleted team but in saying that, the wins India managed to produce especially in the first three were very comprehensive.
I don’t know… [how to bowl at him]. It’s different surfaces and different states of the match. If I was playing, I would have done preparation to make sure I knew what I was going to try and do. But not having to play I don’t give it too much thought.
On Jasprit Bumrah’s admission into Test cricket…
He has something different, doesn’t he? His action is different, he bowls wide from the crease, he is skiddier and rushed you a little bit. So if you are different, you can always be effective and you can channel it that way. I think he learnt as he went through the Test series about the lines that he could bowl and he learnt what he could do and couldn’t do. He was exposed to some nice surfaces and I spoke to him about where I asked him wouldn’t you like it if the rest of your Test career was played on surfaces like this. And he said definitely, so it’s going to be more of a challenge when he gets to India, he is going to learn to reverse it and different surfaces and different stages of the matches. It’s a learning curve but in the old days you almost learnt your trade before you got the opportunity. Nowadays kids, people like [Lungi] Ngidi, they are all learning on the job so, he has played only nine games before he got his Test cap and picked six wickets, so he is learning on the go. That’s where they are very good now and have been adaptable.
On Hardik Pandya’s role in the team…
Clearly, I get the impression that Kohli loves his attitude, it’s very similar to the way he plays his cricket. And because he loves that attitude, there is a good chance that he will get a long run in the side, to settle himself and cement himself in the team. That’s the nature of cricket, if the captain likes the way a player goes about his business then that player will get an extra run. I liked his attitude and approach in the Cape Town Test, the way he played that knock, and he is obviously learning, he has got a bit to find out, he will be ultra positive in India in conditions where he can take on the spinners, he will learn the art of what he needs to do in England and Australia. He still needs to find how he wants to play, mix his aggression with sound technique and if he can get himself in for a period of time then I am sure he can learn. But he has got all the ingredients I think, some right attitude and good skills. And time will tell whether he can develop that and take that potential, lot of people have got potential, but to take that to the next level is always the key, so we will have to wait and see.
On the entire hype around aggression…
Not really saying that aggression is what he is offering, but it’s the attitude that I can back myself and win the battle and come out on top. That’s the attitude you need to have, Malcolm Marshall taught me that have a great respect for the opposition but have a great self belief that wherever you come up against them you respect them but you win the battle. I think that’s what he wants to install, and the confidence. I suppose it’s always edgy, can be, confidence might go into over aggression and over confidence and that’s the balance that they need to find. But you can always curb that aggression and attitude. Sometimes if someone hasn’t got that it’s difficult to generate beside them. That’s something they have to work on. In international sport you have to have emotion, but how you channel that emotion towards being calm and towards performance rather than peripheral issues.
On India’s wristspinners and going forward looking at the 2019 World Cup…
If you look at their ODI stats, Kuldeep averaging under 20, has 38 wickets, almost 1-2 wickets per match. [Yuzvendra] Chahal is pretty similar, averages 22, their economy rate [similar]. Can they win the World Cup for you in England? I think that’s fantastic that you have a tour there now to be able to judge what performance they give, you don’t always get surfaces that hold up and that turn in England, sometimes you turn up and you get green seamers, so do you play both of them? I think that’s the challenge for India, [they] need to work out whether those two can rely on to go all the way through in a big tournament or do you need to find another option so that one of them plays because the World Cup happens in the early part of the season and in general those conditions really don’t offer spin. But when we went to the World Cup last time in 1999, we were expecting surfaces to be nipping around, but because it was a World Cup, it was almost like the surfaces were over prepared and the groundsmen were scared of things going wrong so they rolled them more and gave them less water, so it might work out.
India were good in the Champions Trophy but that was a different time of the year and they played with same pitches over and over again, which meant that they started to hold up and grip. But that’s why I think your tour is important and it’s a year away and you will be able to gauge whether those will work or not.