Jayant Yadav couldn’t have asked for a better year than 2016. In a span of 18 days, the off-spinner made his ODI and Test debut both at the same venue — at Visakhapatnam.
Someone who made his first-class debut at 21, all this would seem to be happening too quickly. But Yadav, who will turn 27 on January 22, is just glad that he’s playing cricket at the highest level.
The off-spinner’s different trajectory from Ravochandran Ashwin and his steady batting has been enough to proclaim him as one of the finds of the England Test series.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, the Delhi lad, who plies his trade for Haryana, spoke about his bright start to international cricket, bowling with Ashwin, his transition from India ‘A’ to the national team and why he takes the all-rounders tag as a challenge.
Did you expect your Test debut to happen so quickly?
After the ODI debut, I wanted to get in the Test team. When the name was announced, it was a great feeling. Actually, I was a part of the Test team (during the New Zealand series) before I made my ODI debut. So, I was aware about the dressing room atmosphere, the team culture. It was a great feeling.
You hardly looked nervous on your Test debut
There was definitely nervousness. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. But everything just panned out in a right way. I got the wicket (of Moeen Ali via DRS) on the eighth ball. So that calmed my nerves. I contributed with the bat (35 and 27 not out) which made me feel better. It was one of those days where everything fell in place.
Has your performances exceeded your own expectations?
I wouldn’t say exceeded. The major factor is contributing to the team, adding value to the role given. But as a cricketer, I am not content (with what I have performed). Yes, I am definitely happy with the way I have performed and I would like to contribute further.
Joe Root’s wicket in the second innings of the Wankhede Test was crucial as England collapsed from thereon.
In the last session, they (England) scored 89 runs in 20 overs. Our plan as spinners was to keep it tight and the wicket was doing quite a lot in the second innings. It was just a matter of holding our nerves. They were also playing shots, so our plan was to bowl to our strengths and give them no room. Root misread the length on that delivery. He should have played it forward, but he went back.
A half-century, a ton and nine wickets in three Tests. Does it all feel surreal?
It definitely feels good, but at the same time, anybody who is playing cricket for a long time, it would be a dream of having three good Test matches and contribute to the team. Adding value to the team is more important in whichever way that you can. It is not a dream. Dream would be to scoring 200 and take five wickets (in the match).
Would you like to consider yourself a proper all-rounders now?
My first skill is always bowling. All the all-rounders around the world they have the primary skill in place and another skill that backs them up.
Is an all-rounders tag a distraction or burden for cricketers?
I can say from my perspective, it is not a burden. If you have two skills, you can always contribute to the team. It’s just about working on your secondary skill and take it a notch up. I enjoy batting and bowling, so why would it be a burden?
Rahul Dravid (India ‘A’ coach) credited skipper Virat Kohli for your success.
The structure has played a part. It is everybody, not just Virat. Obviously, being a captain, he takes into account a lot of things, but the environment in the dressing room is very conducive for you to eptiomise and deliver your performance because the atmosphere is buzzing, full of positivity. You just want to go out there and do something for the team. That does play a very important part.
Talking from the ODI and Test team’s perspective, what kind of a reception you got?
There wasn’t a different reception between the ODI and Test team. It was all very good. I did give a speech and those things are ice-breakers.
What kind of interactions you had with coach Anil Kumble?
Anil sir brings a sense of calmness. When you didn’t have a good spell, he will reinforce that you need to be consistent in all the areas as that will open up the avenue for a wicket. You don’t have to chase a wicket, that is one thing he keeps stressing upon. He keeps giving me positive vibes. The best thing about this team is that they will keep backing you till the end. That is a good thing for a youngster like me.
How smooth was the transition from India ‘A’ to the international level?
When you progress from Ranji Trophy level to India ‘A’ and then to international cricket, you need to be aware about the gaps between each level. It could be skill related, fitness related or intensity. So, you need to be aware about it and then work towards it. When you go through that process, you learn a lot of things about yourself. That is great process to go through. You get to learn different attributes about your game.
How was your experience of bowling with Ravichandran Ashwin?
I have known Ashwin since 2014. We share a good rapport. We talk a lot about the game apart from other things. It is very difficult to describe Ash. He is a great cricketing mind, very genuine and straight forward. He simplifies things for you.
Any kind of an advice that Ashwin gave you during the Tests?
I don’t think during a match anybody would give technical input. What Ash would come up with is ‘if this is not working, let’s try this’. He wants to think one step ahead of the batsman.