Hyderabad’s Mohammed Siraj has established a firm foothold in the Indian team ever since he made his T20 debut against New Zealand in 2017. His impressive Test debut against Australia last year, confirmed his ability to take wickets against strong opposition in Test matches too. According to star batsman V.V.S. Laxman he is likely to be very successful in his future career.
There is nobody who can speak with more authority on fast bowlers than Laxman since he had faced some of the greatest fast bowlers of his days. Bowlers like Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Allan Donald, Fanie de VIliiers and many others — Laxman has tackled them all and so he knows what he is talking about. It stands to reason that his assessment of Siraj is bound to be accurate.
Speaking to siasat.com, Laxman expressed his optimism about Siraj’s future career in world cricket. “Provided he continues to work hard over the next few years, Siraj can be a really big name in international cricket. He certainly has the qualities and the potential to do so,” said Laxman.
“Siraj is a very skillful bowler. For any fast bowler there are two very important requirements. Firstly, he must have the ability to swing the ball deceptively. Siraj has this ability in abundance. Secondly, a fast bowler has to be able to bowl long spells. This ability too, Siraj has in him. He has tremendous stamina. He can come back for his third spell and bowl with just as much venom as he did in his first two spells,” said Laxman.
“This ability to maintain his speed and bounce and movement over a long period is what makes Siraj such a dangerous bowler. There is no time for the batsmen to relax. Siraj just keeps coming back again and again and he keeps hammering away at the batsmen. That is why he picks up wickets even in his third spell. It is an important quality for any fast bowler to possess,” explained Laxman.
“Now in India, we are fortunate to have a battery of good fast bowlers. I feel that skipper Virat Kohli should use Siraj for the longer spells while giving the others short and sharp bursts. I feel that Siraj is only going to improve over time. We have seen him in action in Australia where he played a very important role in our attack and he will become even better with experience,” said Laxman.
“However, one of the important things that he has to be careful about is stress related injuries resulting from work overload. Fast bowlers are often hampered by injury problems. So this is one aspect on which Siraj must focus. He must stay fit and take care to remain injury free. Then only will he be able to fulfill his potential,” said Laxman.
Speaking about the effect of the IPL on the confidence and morale of the younger players like Siraj and others, Laxman agreed that the tournament had given them a chance to gain valuable experience against top class opponents and build up their belief in their own abilities.
“The IPL, or any T20 format game for that matter, makes you work hard. You have to think up new ideas for every match. You are under constant scrutiny. It is a high pressure situation. If you can come out on top, then you can be sure you have done a great job,” said Laxman.
All Hyderabadis know that Siraj has come a long way since he first got hooked to cricket while studying in class 7. Like many other kids he would bunk classes to play in cricket matches and naturally this brought him a good amount of scolding from his parents who were not too well off.
Surely back then his parents could never have imagined that this game would provide Siraj with a grand lifestyle and more wealth than they could dream of. But what is an advantage can also be a disadvantage. The cricketer who is now at his peak, should make a conscious effort not to get carried away by the glitz and glamour associated with the game. Financially he is now well off. So all he has to do is keep his attention on the game.
A strict fitness regimen and a controlled diet will go a long way to enhance and prolong his career. His countless fans in Hyderabad are looking forward to watching him play for many years more. They hope that the gifted fast bowler who has acquired a cult status in the twin cities will rise to the topmost rung of international cricket.
Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.