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Ishant Sharma: Hit The Gym, Son

It just so happens that every time Team India embarks on an international tour to Australia, England, South Africa or New Zealand they take with them two or three raw and untested fast bowlers. I use "fast" in quite a liberal sense. Often times, the selectors are blindly hoping, against all hope and common sense, that the new quicks will somehow manage to succeed. Ishant Sharma and Ranadeb Bose are two youngsters to be entrusted with the duty of miraculously succeeding on this tour to the UK.

My thoughts on Ranadeb Bose are on the record and were evidenced by his performance in the tour match against Sussex. One could argue that it was only one match and he needs further opportunity. However, I do not believe he has the wherewithal to be successful on the international stage. The most obvious limitation in his package being a distinct lack of zip.

Ishant Sharma, on the other hand, seems like he has the raw ingredients to make things happen on the international front. He is able to move the ball when things are going well. More importantly, he maintains his pace independent of how well he is bowling.

With all this promise it must not be forgotten that he his only 18. A tender age when a young man's body is still developing. The body has to cope with that much more, when it is subjected to the demands of fast bowling - genuine fast bowling.

The plan going forward should be to say, sure we had a lack of resources and had to use him on the tours to Bangladesh and England. However, the kid is still raw and physically does not seem to have the body that is capable of withstanding the punishment inflicted on it by a fast bowlers technique.

Therefore, in order to further groom this asset lets get him in the gym with a personal trainer for the next six to eight months. This will build muscle mass and core strength that will stand him in good stead when he is required to perform at peak levels in back-to-back-to-back international matches/series. During this period we will get him to play all the local and domestic cricket he can and this will allow him to continue his cricketing education and allow him a greater margin than that afforded by international batsmen.

If someone doesn't do this for Ishant Sharma, I can see him going the way of Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan. That is, playing 6-8 months of international cricket with some modicum of success and then losing his way through a combination of injury and fatigue.

In an ideal world, the system will take care of these matters. The system of Indian cricket is far from ideal (is there a system at all??) and in its place somebody with a good head on his shoulders, Venkatesh Prasad perhaps, needs to take this step. It will be of much benefit to the future of Team India and Ishant Sharma.

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