Courtney Walsh walks around in the sun for over an hour, keeping an eye on Shakib Al Hassan practising on the square a day before his team plays the first T20I against Afghanistan at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun. He is certainly not one of the swiftest moving around in the field. There is a nagging jerk in his walk as he asks you to move into the dressing room for a chat.
You quickly ask the West Indies pace legend about how he was handling Bangladesh’s pace prodigy Mustafizur Rahman. “It’s a cause of concern for me. It’s the second time he has come back from the IPL with an injury.” You could make out he wasn’t pleased.
“We need keep him (Mustafizur) fit and make him stronger because he is young, talented and has everything to offer. We need to get his mind right and get his bowling up to the standards it can be,” Walsh, the Bangladesh bowling consultant and interim coach, said.
Walsh understands the demands modern cricket and its various formats put on a fast bowler. Yet, it’s disturbing for him to see that someone as exciting as Mustafizur could lose the plot. “But at the end of the day, the player himself got to take responsibility because you are working for two different environments,” the man with 519 Test wickets said.
It’s not so easy for young players though. Hefty contracts from a cash-rich league like IPL can push back other priorities. “We didn’t know about his injury. That made it more frustrating. Had we known earlier, we could have done something to get him back on the park quicker. He came to play a practice game. The message has been sent to him. He has to communicate through the right channel.”
For all the wickets he has taken, for all the intense battles he has fought on the cricket field, Walsh knows sustaining fast bowlers is the biggest challenge of all. “For any format of cricket to thrive, fast bowling is important. People would want to go and watch if an exciting fast bowler emerges on the scene. I am also concerned is that we need to have pitches that will help these fast bowlers so that we have that excitement going.”
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