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The Curious Case of Umesh Yadav

by Aditya

The last time India won a Test match against a ‘good opposition’ was back in November 2012.

To clear all doubts let me define a “good opposition” first. It depends on various factors like the quality of the Indian team, conditions they play in and the quality of the opposition amongst other things. 

For example when India played New Zealand in New Zealand earlier this year it was against a good opposition, but New Zealand weren’t a good opposition when they played in India a couple of years ago.

To give another example of ‘good opposition’: The Australian team which toured India in 2010 was a good opposition but the one which toured in 2013 was definitely not one.

The match India won in question is the Test against England in Ahmedabad  Umesh Yadav was very effective in that match and got Ian Bell and Samit Patel in successive deliveries to ensure England couldn’t built on a decent platform laid by their top order. Throughout the Test he was effective and got the ball to reverse as well. After that he missed out on the remaining tests in the series as well as on Australia’s tour to India owing to a back injury.

Prior to this series he had an OK series vs New Zealand at home, picking up 5 wickets in a series where 31 out of the 39 wickets to fall were taken by Ashwin & Ojha. He was one of the few positives on that disastrous tour of Australia, picking up a 5 for and taking 15 wickets at a strike rate of 50.5 while Ishant Sharma took 4 wickets at a Strike rate of 150.6.

All in all he played 9 Tests (5 of them on non responsive pitches in India) and took 32 wickets at a good average of 32.5 while touching 140 kmph regularly. You would think he could walk into the Indian team given the lack of genuinely quick bowlers India produce.

After recovering from his back injury, he was promptly called back into the Test Squad for Sachin’s Farewell Series in which he warmed the benches with Ishant Sharma. Picked for the South Africa tour, he again warmed  benches and saw Zaheer, Ishant and Shami play ahead of him in tests. Rinse repeat for New Zealand Tour where got a solitary chance in the warm up game, returned with figures of 18-4-70-1  and then warmed the benches for the tests - Zaheer, Ishant and Shami played both the games ahead of him.

The selectors kept picking him in the squad but MS Dhoni & Fletcher didn’t pick him in the playing XI. The selectors picked a pace heavy squad for the England tour, even dropping Zaheer Khan in a sign that they were looking towards the future and investing in younger bowlers. You would assume that they would pick Umesh Yadav in the squad for England as well. But they picked Varun Aaron ( has played 1 test till now. Gets injured often , whether he lasts 5 tests is a big question ), Pankaj Singh ( He deserved his chances 2-3 years ago when he was doing extremely well for Rajasthan, now it seems like a Token Pick to show that BCCI isn't against Rajasthan players even after Lalit Modi  is RCA President ), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishwar Pandey ( Hasn't made his Test Debut yet ), Mohd. Shami and Ishant Sharma ("Leader" of the attack ). That’s 6 specialist pace bowlers and no Umesh Yadav. Is Umesh Yadav not even in the top 6 pace bowlers in India ?

Joe Dawes has been Team India's bowling coach from February 2012, it seems as if he is on Auto-Pilot. You don't see innovative measures from India's fast bowlers. Its highly likely that his views were considered selectors before they decided to pick the 6 pace bowlers, which is very inexperienced ( Excluding Ishant, the other 5 have played 13 tests in total and only Mohd. Shami has played a test outside India ). Umesh Yadav has played in Australia and has played 9 tests as well.

I can see 2 reasons why Umesh Yadav wasn’t picked for the England tour.

  • Indian Team think tank ( MS Dhoni, Duncan Fletcher and Joe Dawes) have communicated to the selectors that they don’t see Umesh in their scheme of things.
  • Selectors realized that in spite of picking Umesh Yadav time and again in the test squads he isn’t getting a game (3 test series and 6 tests) and hence decided to give Indian Team think tank newer options to chose from.

It is really disappointing to see Umesh Yadav missing out. He could have learned a lot on the long tour of England. Indian Team think tank , haven’t handled Umesh Yadav well at all. He is a rare Indian quick bowler, he surely deserved better treatment from the team management. It must be tough for Umesh Yadav to watch the team playing in England from his home. Hopefully that inspires him to do well in the domestic season ahead and he makes a comeback to the Test team for the Australia Tour later this year.

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