At 30, Miya Magic Siraj has developed greater variety; seems set for more success

Hyderabad Desk

Mohammed Siraj has turned 30 today. He has reached that golden phase of his career when he still has the energy and stamina of youth but also has a wealth of experience that will help him to raise his game to greater heights when it matters.

No sport can be played with only brawn. Every game has a few tricks to be mastered; every player must make use of psychology and mental pressure to overcome opponents. Usually in the case of most players it is when they are about 30 that the mental and physical aspects of their game come together and work in harmony.

Many of the great fast bowlers in history have made minor adjustments to their approach which made them even more effective in the thirty-plus phase of their careers. The names that come to mind immediately are those of Dennis Lillee and Andy Roberts.

The weapons of Lillee and Roberts

By the time Lillee reached 30, he had developed an armoury of weapons that were based on swing and movement off the pitch rather than raw speed. His bowling was more deceptive. His ability to exploit a batsman’s weakness became his main strength.

The same can be said of Andy Roberts. He varied his speed and line. He developed two types of bouncers. The first would be a slower one which the batsman could deal with. But a few balls later would come with another bouncer which was apparently a carbon copy of the previous one. But the second bouncer would come through like lightning and take the batsman by surprise.

A bagful of magic tricks

Perhaps Siraj has also developed new gambits for he continues to take wickets very consistently. After all he is known as Miya Magic so he must be striving to live up to that nickname. Like a magician displaying a perplexing array of feats, Siraj too leaves the batsmen groping for answers.

A few months ago we saw Siraj at his best in the Asia Cup tournament. In the final his incredible haul of 6 wickets for 21 runs off 7 overs left Sri Lanka shell shocked. It was the kind of artillery bombardment that could have ripped the heart out of any team regardless of its strength.

Analysis of Bharat Arun

Bharat Arun, the former bowling coach of the Indian team has analysed Siraj’s strengths very well. According to Arun, his greatest asset is his consistent length and accuracy. According to the coach, it is important to take a look at where and how Siraj takes most of his wickets. They are most often either LBW, bowled or caught by the keeper or the slips.

It means that his line is very accurate and with the length that he hits, the ball deviates very late thereby foxing even experienced batters. In this respect his line, length and movement is quite similar to that of New Zealand’s legendary fast bowler Sir Richard Hadlee.

Arun said that Siraj understands his role very well and that is the reason why he is becoming more and more consistent as his career progresses at the highest level. Earlier, he was exciting and raw, but now he is more aware of what he must do and the changes that he must bring into his bowling. He is aware of what needs to be done in different situations, Arun feels.

Achieved top rank in the world

Last year Siraj went past Trent Boult and Josh Hazelwood to become the world’s top ranked bowler in the ODI format with 729 rating points. It was clear that he had risen a notch higher than many international fast bowlers. Coach Paras Mhambrey had pointed out a few areas in which Siraj needed to do more work and this paid off immediately.

Siraj has always possessed a nasty bouncer and this is something that has impressed many players including David Warner and VVS Laxman. Recently against South Africa he proved himself yet again and revelled on the fast tracks in South Africa. His tally of six wickets for 15 runs in the Cape Town Test underlined his potential.

But the graph is still on the rise. This rocket from Hyderabad with his lethal bouncers and yorkers seems destined to travel a long distance among the stars that shine in the galaxy of international cricket. His skills, stamina and energy hold the key to his own career and the success of team India.

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