Vantage point

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pathan - Handle With Care!

Raw talent comes along very rarely. And no one can deny that Irfan Pathan is supremely talented, with the bat as well as the ball. Recently his fortunes with the ball have taken a beating. He appears listless, even pedestrian, and barely a shadow of his former self.

And yet, it is not as if he has been "sorted out" as bowlers often are in their 2nd and 3rd seasons. Because Pathan is a genuine swing bowler, the kind that can not exactly be sorted out. When a bowler swings it at 85 mph or thereabouts, even the best battaing lineups with the best laid plans can find themselves tottering. And yet, his swing has mysteriously disappeared. And his speed has dropped to Prasadesque levels. His relevance in the overall scheme of things, even in an underperforming team, has been rapidly diminishing over the last year. And it has undoubtedly hit his self-belief.

I hope Potchefstroom will serve as a wake-up call to the Indian cricketing establishment as well as to Irfan Pathan himself. Here is a bundle of raw talent fading away because of something that has gone wrong. And whatever has gone wrong can not be unfixable. The guy is just 22 for crying out loud. His batting at Potchefstroom shows that he has the ability to apply himself. He takes the game seriously. And after 2 decades of false starts, we have a player who can be termed a genuine all-rounder.

M/s Dravid, Chappell, Vengsarkar and Pawar need to chalk out a strategy for him. Have faith in him. Get the best help possible to sort out the problems in his bowling. And make sure he always has the establishment's support. Remember, even Andrew Flintoff took 5 years to hit top form. But he was always kept in the team. That faith has paid off.

Irfan Pathan needs to be handled with care... and persisted with. Help him get his bowling mojo back.