Manoj Prabhakar: ‘We need competitive pitches, not neutral venues’

Manoj Prabhakar may not have been the fastest or the most popular but he was a handy seamer for almost a decade for India. Having taken over the Uttar Pradesh side this season, Prabhakar is now hoping to get the team’s bowling unit to fire.

"The kind of pitches we get now, the soil is totally dead, they are batting tracks and there is no pace or bounce anywhere. I think the people taking decisions should look into it, maybe dock points for a bad pitch."   -  Stan Rayan

He may not have been the fastest or the most popular but Manoj Prabhakar was a handy seamer for almost a decade for India. Having taken over the Uttar Pradesh side this season, Prabhakar is now hoping to get the team’s bowling unit to fire.

His team has struggled so far and the constant travel due to neutral venues has meant little time to recoup and adjust. While agreeing to the idea, Prabhakar though is not convinced about the execution of it. “For me, neutral venues should be about uniformity in pitches at every centre, good cricketing wickets challenging every aspect of the game. Even in home and away format, you have to have an equal battle between bat and ball.

“But the kind of pitches we get now, the soil is totally dead, they are batting tracks and there is no pace or bounce anywhere. I think the people taking decisions should look into it, maybe dock points for a bad pitch. We need competitive venues more than neutral venues,” Prabhakar said.

About the present lot of new-ball bowlers, Prabhakar is impressed with Mohammed Shami but feels we need more like him. “We need support from the other end also. The others are good in patches. If you look at Umesh Yadav, his graph is not growing or improving consistently. We can’t just survive with two-three bowlers but we also need to give them enough rest to recover.

“We also have to decide how to use the bowlers across Tests, ODIs and T20s. Also, no one is ready to play Ranji Trophy for longer periods any more. They play one-two games, get selected for the IPL and that’s about it. The endurance is gone, it’s more about strengthening. It’s rare for a player to bowl 20 overs straight at the same pace in Ranji Trophy now.”

But more than the players, he believed that it was the support staff’s role to look out for the niggles. “The thing is, they (bowlers) are getting a lot of wear and tear because they don’t know how to keep themselves intact or handle the small niggles. Somewhere, our technique and hard work has changed focus and the gym, which I call the back-up, has taken centre stage and become shortcut in training. What the kids do not realise is that too much gym develops more muscles than necessary and it backfires. The support staff has to take responsibility for this,” he said.

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