Ojha needs to be more patient

S. SUBRAMANIUM

The left-arm spinner has spent a lot of time to sort his action out and eventually got the clearance from the rectification centre.

The ups and downs in a sportsperson’s career pose enough problems and challenges but a forced hiatus in the sport he is passionate about can be the ultimate test of fortitude. Pragyan Ojha (pic, below), the left-arm spinner from Hyderabad, was forced to remodel his technique as his elbow flex was way beyond the permitted limit. I, for one, believe that such faults in techniques don’t develop overnight unless in the case of a bowler sustaining an injury which results in him doing certain movements unwittingly. Ojha came up through the ranks and all the way it does seem that he was somehow unaware that he had a problem with his action. Either that or he was perhaps content to ride the wave till he was consumed by it.

I say this because he was part of an under-19 group in the NCA and he was informed that he needed to do a couple of things differently. But the problem is that one cannot tell a youngster up front that he is “chucking”. But unfortunately, there is no other way because it is better to work on developing a smooth action when one is young. The long and short of it is that the left-arm spinner has gone through a full circle. He was banned from bowling at a time when he was on the verge of becoming a certainty in the Indian team. However, he showed resilience and the willingness to do something about his plight. He spent a lot of time to sort his action out and eventually got the clearance from the rectification centre. His real test came when he turned up for the India ‘A’ side recently and apparently he was impressive.

Ojha did play in the Irani Trophy game towards the end of the 2014-15 Indian season, but he looked a wee bit short on confidence. Of course, the anxiety that he might be warned or even called again would have been in the back of his mind. But he seemed to have made good use of the time during the off-season, which has enhanced his confidence and he has also smoothened his action. Apart from bowling well, he has to constantly keep track of the fact that he needs to take one step at a time. He has age on his side and if at all he needs any fillip, the recall of Harbhajan Singh into the Indian team should be it.

Ojha will spend a fair amount of time with Dravid during the ‘A’ series and in terms of patience, there can be no better person than Dravid to help Ojha develop in that regard. However, it is always about confidence in the end and that can be gained only by playing more games. Ojha has also made a move to Bengal in order to play more quality games in the domestic season. That’s a sensible move as he needs the extra responsibility to retain his competitive edge at this point in time. However, Ojha needs to realise that he has to look at “bowling to bowl well” and not assess his performance only on the basis of wickets.

There is no doubt that Ojha will be under more pressure than before, but he has played enough to know how to handle it. The biggest challenge will be in not resorting to the old method when others start judging him on the criterion of wickets. He does have certain good elements in his bowling mechanism, which can help him generate turn and bounce but all that will happen in due course of time. As of now, his focus needs to be on ensuring that his arm goes through the complete action very smoothly.