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#COCExclusive Interview with Umesh Yadav : “It was difficult to afford a kit bag when my father worked in a coal mine”

By Umesh Lakhmani -

Indian cricketer Umesh Yadav
 
 
 

Fast-bowler, Umesh Yadav, is one of the few Cricketers who made it to the Indian Team after playing just two years in First-class Cricket. He made his debut in the year 2010 and since then, he has been known for his ability to hit the deck hard and trouble the batsmen with his fiery pace bowling. The 28-year-old overcame many obstacles to rise above all. He comes from a humble background where his father has a history of working in a coal mine in Gujarat.

Team Circle Of Cricket met with Umesh Yadav and his wife Tanya Wadhwa Yadav right after the West Indies series for an interview where the Speedster opened his heart out and talked about his journey to the Indian Team, West Indies series, fast bowling, Kolkata Knight Riders and a lot more.

Q) You come from a very humble background and you have faced a lot of difficulties in your path to fame. Tell us about your journey to the Indian Team?

A) I belong to a middle/ lower middle-class family and of course, it has been tough to get to the top. When I started playing, I did think about representing the country someday. Wherever I was playing, be it state level or local, I just wanted to perform. It was difficult for me when I started going for coaching because kits were expensive back then and my father used to work in the coal mines. We were 3 brothers and sisters and I was hesitant to ask my father for money to go for training and improve my cricket. But yeah, the journey has been tough. I have learned a lot in life and now I feel I was blessed by god.

Q) You left studies after 12th grade. Did you plan back then that you would want to pursue cricket as your career?

A) There was no plan as such. Since I was not from a rich family, I could not say to my parents back then that I want to leave studies and pursue cricket. India has a population of over 100 crores yet a handful of them get a chance to play for the nation so you cannot risk your career at a young age. It is difficult to represent a state team also since there is immense competition. I, coming from a small village, could play for Vidarbha and impress everyone out there. One can never plan that they will play district, then Ranji Trophy and then nationals. I would just say that I grabbed the chances I had with both hands and destiny took me where I am right now.

Q) Coming to the West Indies series. The team performed consistently well in all the 4 test matches. How was your experience of playing in the Caribbean?

A) It was a great experience for us, especially the bowlers, because we could trouble their batsman at their own den. Something the West Indian fast bowlers were famous for 10-15 years ago. They used to consistently bowl bouncers and our batsmen did not really have to answer an answer to it. And on this tour, we attacked their batsmen by bowling short consistently. It really boosted us up and gave us a kick to push harder. The current bunch of fast bowlers, Ishant, Shami, Bhuvi and myself, felt really happy as a lot of people noticed this ploy. Even Shardul for that matter, even though he didn’t get a game.

Q) Tell us something about Anil Kumble who is now the Coach of the Indian team. How has his appointment been for the team?

A) He is a very composed and focused man which is one of the positives he brings to the team. As it was a test series, he wanted the bowlers to be consistent with the ball and bowl in one area so that there is a higher chance of getting a wicket. He told us to have a simple plan and bowl at the 4th stump consistently because it would be a test of patience from both sides.

Q) There was a buddy system that was brought forward by the Coach on this tour. Could you throw a bit of light on this? Who was your buddy?

A) I feel this was a good thing for the team. My buddy was Murali Vijay. It was brought in to ensure that you and your buddy are on time and together for practice, team meetings or any kind of event where the team needs to be together. It is your responsibility to ensure that he is not late or else both shall be fined for it. It was a good gel up excursive for us which helped us to know each other better.

Q) It is a young test team that we have which is led by Virat Kohli. What are your thoughts about his captaincy?

A) Virat is the Captain of course but he is like a friend too as most of us are of the same age. He is kind of skipper who gives you a lot of freedom and helps everybody. He is very approachable and all the players discuss various situations with him. We all know he has an aggressive approach towards his cricket so that helps the team. If there is aggression, you tend to give your best to everything.

Q) How was the atmosphere of the dressing room in the West Indies series? Do you guys have fun as well?

A) Yeah, there are a lot of players in the team who are quite funny and tend to pull each other’s leg. We gel really well together and support each other all the time. It is a great feeling for us to be a part of a great team.

Q) You started your cricket as an expert with the Tennis ball. Tell us about your journey from the tennis ball to the red ball?

A) I don’t it was really difficult for me. If you want to make it big in your career you have to go one level up each time you play. I used to play tennis ball cricket in my locality during my childhood and slowly when I started going out to play, I realized red ball cricket is the real cricket. I felt good when people started talking about my bowling. I played T20 cricket for my college and then I played for a club where everyone started appreciating my fast bowling. Then came a time in my career where I played district level cricket and then Ranji Trophy. My career graph has really been good so far.

Q) Since you are a one of the few genuine fast bowlers’ in the country at the moment. Tell us what a fast bowler should concentrate more on – Pace, swing or control?

A) Since the time I have started playing cricket at the International level, I have learned a lot about fast bowling. I feel all this actually depends on the conditions and the requirement of the team. When you find out that there is hardly anything in the wicket and it’s slow, you need to bowl fast and in testing areas. Where the ball is swinging a lot, your line and length matter a lot. I personally have learned that pace is not all that a bowler requires being a wicket-taker. You need to be skillful with your bowling.

Q) Coming to the IPL now. You have been representing Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) where Gautam Gambhir is Captain. How has he been with the team?

A) Gautam Bhai is also an aggressive kind of a Captain. He remains very focused and energetic on the field with his plans. One good thing about him is that he backs the youngsters a lot. If the Captain is good at his job, everything falls in place. He has done a lot for KKR and 2 IPL Trophies is a proof of that. He is a very nice man.

Q) Shahrukh Khan is one of the KKR franchise owners. Did he come to the dressing room pretty often and provide some tips to the team, during the IPL?

A) Usually, he did not talk about cricket with anyone personally. He used to come to the dressing room after matches and used to tell us good things even though we lost a game. He always boosted the morale of the team and asked us to enjoy the game no matter what. If a franchise owner is cool and relaxed the team definitely feels at home.

Q) The Test team is soon going to face New Zealand at home. Any plan you have in mind for the series?

A) Cannot really say anything for now as the team has not been announced yet. When the team is out, will start thinking about it. Of course, I will want to do well if I am in the team. I am looking forward to being in the team for the series, take wickets and serve my country.


Team Circle of Cricket with Umesh Yadav and his wife Tanya Wadhwa Yadav