Another Day in a Decade of Umesh Yadav
It will be a decade since Umesh Yadav made his Test debut in November of this year. That attack included R Ashwin and Ishant Sharma, so there’s some familiarity and continuity there. But it’s two different worlds in Yadav’s environment, which is Indian fast bowling.
India’s First Great Pace Bloom
Those were the years of Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Sreesanth, and, of course, Zaheer Khan, and Yadav arrived like the climax of India’s first great pace bloom. Yadav was giddily described and feted as the quickest bowler in the country in those early dispatches, which was telling in and of itself. An out-and-out quick was a bright, shiny new thing to show because the fast-bowling tradition had been thin.
Indian pace bowling has grown in popularity in recent years. There’s a good chance Mohammed Siraj would have made his Test debut before his 38th first-class game if he’d come out at the turn of the century. Yadav has straddled these eras, and he is an important part of this one as well, if not quite as central as before, but still a little like a relic of that era on days like today. ‘Days like today is probably self-explanatory.
It was a tumultuous time for India. Despite being five down within the first hour and lacking their best and busiest batter, England scored at a rate of over 3.5 per over throughout the day. Too many goals were conceded, too many extras were added, and the attack lacked confidence.
Yadav was their most successful bowler, and the fact that he looked like their joint-best bowler at times and their joint-leakiest at other times only add to an early impression that has never quite faded. Yadav, unfairly, became the face of India’s bowling malaise abroad during the MS Dhoni years, contributing to the team’s failure to compete.
It was unjust because he wasn’t particularly bad in terms of numbers. He had the misfortune of playing his first seven away Tests in Australia, which is a particularly intimidating and difficult environment for young fast bowlers. He was inexperienced, and the attacks around him were ineffective.