Can't learn spin by playing one-dayers: Raju
Venkatapathy Raju is concerned about the state of spin bowling in India. In The current national selector and former India left-arm spinner spoke on that and more in an interview with HT here on Tuesday.
How do you look at the spin talent in the country now?
It is a little grave but I am a believer in the cyclical order of things so, hopefully, spin will come back in Indian cricket. The youngsters have to realise that you cannot learn spin playing one-day cricket. With so many matches these days, there isn't enough time to go back and work at the nets. The players today are just happy to finish their overs, bowl flat and not give priority to the revolution of the spin. When I started, I could go back to nets as there weren't so many matches.
Spinners today tend to come with suspect action. Who are to be blamed for this, the player or the coach?
Players tend to bowl quicker and bend their arm. They watch players on television and imitate them from a young age. You will not be able to come out of it. The doosra can never be bowled without bending the arm. That's why in the earlier days, they bowled the floaters.
Your take on Anil Kumble with whom you formed a successful combination.
Kumble has always been a strike bowler and I was only supporting him. But both he and I were good line-and-length bowlers. As a result, there was pressure on batsmen from both the ends. Kumble makes you to play every ball. Through hard work, he developed the slower one and it was always impossible to play the cut shot off him. As he grew, he developed the wrong one against left-handers. He adapted brilliantly. Adaptability is what a good spinner requires to succeed.
You watched Shane Warne's debut from close in 1992. Did you think he'd go on to change the face of spin bowling?
He was fat then. Went for runs and the Australian board sent him back to work on his bowling. They knew they had discovered someone good and had something in him. Martin Crowe, former New Zealand captain and a very good player of spin bowling, rated him highly even then. He knew how to bowl on the edge of the rough that was more important.
You, Kumble and Rajesh Chauhan crushed England 3-0 at home. Was that your best series?
That period was the best of my career. In all the games, the batsmen put up big scores. Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar being around meant we could play three spinners and three different types of spin. We also won against Sri Lanka, who were good players of spin.
How has life been after retirement?
Having played cricket all your life, sitting at home was a new experience. I worked in Maryland, USA, for two years and played in the New Jersey and Washington leagues where there were former Ranji Trophy players and cricketers from Pakistan and the West Indies. Then, I got elected as vice-president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association and into selection.
How do you cope up with the challenges of being a selector?
It has been quite good so far. When we were playing, I felt that selectors were not doing justice. But once you are a selector, you know what it takes to be one. From the under-19 age-group, I attended a lot of selection committee meetings as the captain so I knew how it goes. You need a lot of patience as a selector, have to watch a lot of games.