McGrath's hand in Thampi's IPL success

“When he came here (MRF Pace Foundation), Thampi was raw. But he had a great attitude, was prepared to bowl all day and had natural pace,” said Glenn McGrath of Basil Thampi.

Basil Thampi, playing for Gujarat Lions, was named the ‘Emerging Player of IPL 10.’   -  AFP

He bowled for fun with a tennis ball in the fields of Perunbaram, a charming town close to Ernakulam.

Basil Thampi would surely not have imagined then that he would, one day, be learning the art of pace bowling from the legendary Glenn McGrath.

The 23-year-old Thampi is running hot these days. The bustling fast bowler was named the ‘Emerging Player of IPL 10.’

“When I came to the MRF Pace Foundation two years ago, I did not know much about pace bowling. I would just run in and bowl. I owe all my success to MRF and McGrath sir,” said Thampi to Sportstar here on Friday.

McGrath responded, “When he came here, Thampi was raw. But he had a great attitude, was prepared to bowl all day and had natural pace.”

M. Senthilnathan, head coach at the Pace Foundation, said, “If someone has speed we can definitely work on him and Thampi had that attribute.”

The naturally athletic Thambi impressed during the end overs in the IPL and McGrath observed the youngster, apart from skill, displayed the ability to cope with stressful situations.







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At the Pace Foundation, McGrath simulated the kind of pressures experienced by the bowlers at the ‘Death’ for pacemen in the nets.

“We would be given targets by McGrath and we would have to meet his expectations. That was the challenge and this training helped my bowling immensely in the end overs for Gujarat Lions,” revealed Thampi.

McGrath added, “It’s a lot about the mind in these situations. While coping with the pressure, you may have to slow things down, be in control.”

Senthilnathan said, “In these simulated sessions, the players, given specific numbers, are tested. What stood out in Thampi was his confidence.”   

McGrath gave a lot of credit for Thampi’s development to Senthilnathan. “Senthil is as good a technical coach on pace bowling as anybody else in the world,” he said.

The former Aussie pace spearhead felt Thampi’s action, partly sling-arm, enabled him achieve reverse swing.

Senthilnathan chipped in. “Despite being sort of sling-armish, Thampi, crucially, uses his non-bowling arm.”

In the IPL, Thampi impressed with his toe-crushers that tailed into the batsmen. He trained hard to master the yorker at the Pace Foundation.

McGrath said, “We would have shoes where the batsmen would stand at the crease and the pacemen had to hit them. Then, in order for them to bowl the yorker outside off, we would keep a cone as the fifth stump.”

Senthilnathan noted, “McGrath always insists on the body staying tall and the ball being delivered from the top [high-arm] for the yorker to come out properly.”

McGrath warned the next season could be tougher for Thampi since the batsmen would be aware of his abilities.

Senthilnathan said Thampi’s next target was the domestic first class season. “We want him to shape the new ball away from the batsman at close to 140kmph that he normally bowls. If he gets that away movement, he would be more successful.”

After this chest-thumping IPL, Thambi is eyeing greater glory.

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