Mayank Yadav is ready for T20 World Cup: Fanie de Villiers

Fanie de Villiers and Mayank Yadav
Fanie de Villiers and Mayank Yadav (PC: X)

The ‘child of the wind’, as coined by former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop, is hurling thunderbolts from a high-arm action at the cricket grounds in India. And the ripple effect is felt far and wide, all over the world. From Bishop to Brett Lee, everyone seems to have fallen for Mayank Yadav’s pace and there’s an agreement that the young Lucknow Super Giants fast bowler is the find of the IPL 2024.

“How old is he?” On the other side of the WhatsApp call, Fanie de Villiers, the former South Africa fast bowler, sounded excited. De Villiers was informed that Mayank is only 21 years of age and his tone changed. “My goodness, he is special. He should be handled with care. To be bowling that quick at that age, I am worried there’s a chance of him breaking down. Indian cricket should wrap him in cotton wool,” said the ex-speedster who played 18 Tests and 83 ODIs for South Africa, claiming 85 and 95 wickets respectively.

De Villiers is widely regarded as one of the finest analysts of the game and he has advice for the Indian cricket hierarchy. “Give him (Mayank) the best doctor, best physio and the best biokineticist to ensure he doest’t break down. He needs serious gym work and the conditioning of specific muscle groups to stabilise his strength level,” de Villiers said, speaking to RevSportz.

He has seen young pacers burst onto the scene with raw pace and then breaking down. Pat Cummins was a case in point. “I saw him coming to South Africa as a 19-year-old and he was bowling quick. I was commentating and expressed my apprehension that he might break down. Unfortunately that happened and Cummins was out for almost two years. I don’t want that to happen to Mayank,” said de Villiers.

In just two IPL matches, the fast bowler from Delhi’s Sonnet Club has created enough buzz for the fans to demand his selection in India’s T20 World Cup squad. But is Mayank ready? “He is ready for any T20 cricket, but the idea should be to take him to the Test side and serious work is needed for that,” de Villiers opined. “In T20 cricket, you can run in and bowl as quickly as you can, but Test cricket is an entirely different ball game. There you will have to bowl six-seven-over spells and you need strength and endurance for that. Else, you will quickly lose pace. Test cricket breaks you down,” he added.

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notMayank Yadav for LSG (Image: IPL)Mayank is not the finished article. Far from it. His journey has just begun and he has a history of injuries. Raw pace is what he has in his repertoire and also, steep bounce. According to de Villiers, he needs to add swing to rise to the Test level. “In T20 cricket, the requirement of swing is just 10 per cent. It rises to 60-70 per cent in ODIs and 90-95 per cent in Test cricket. Fast bowlers with high-arm action don’t swing the ball much. To swing the ball, ideally you should have what we call one o’clock action. I am not saying Mayank should change his action. But he needs a twitch here and a very fine tune there without compromising on his pace.”

But someone with such raw pace, who can hurry the batsmen and rattle them with bounce, should he be concerned about moving the ball in the air? “In Test cricket, swing is essential. There, batsmen won’t be playing those innovative shots. They will wait and will wear down the bowlers before playing their shots. That is why you need swing,” de Villiers explained.

After LSG’s match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru, former India batsman WV Raman swam against the tide and advised county cricket for Mayank instead of the T20 World Cup. “Post #IPL rest and then possibly a few county matches in England in red ball format. Then back in India to train and play a few red ball cricket matches. Then unleash him in #Australia in the test series. This will be my short term plan for #MayankYadav,” he posted on X.

De Villiers respectfully disagreed. “County cricket breaks you down. For a fast bowler who is so young, it is not the place. Look at Duanne Olivier. He was bowling at 150 kph. And after playing county cricket, he is now bowling at 130 kph. In county cricket, there’s no time for practice. You are going match-to-match. County cricket makes you a workhorse. If Mayank were my son, I wouldn’t have allowed him to go to county cricket until he is 24-25 years of age. He needs to build his body first with strength and endurance conditioning.”

Mayank is precious and the Indian cricket has a duty to ensure that the ‘child of the wind’ doesn’t become a ‘candle in the wind’.

Also Read: Mayank Yadav the X-factor that Lucknow hoped he could be 

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