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Basil Thampi credits his success to Glenn McGrath

Thampi acknowledged the helpful training under Glenn McGrath at the MRF Pace Foundation which changed him completely as a bowler.

Basil Thampi of Gujarat Lions
Basil Thampi of Gujarat Lions. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)

Basil Thampi was unearthed in the recently concluded IPL. The fast bowler from Kerala impressed many with his pace and ability to bowl yorkers in pressure-cooker situations. When Thampi picked his first wicket of the IPL – a pinpoint yorker to dismiss Gayle on 76 – everyone acknowledged the talents of this young 23-year old.

The franchise he was playing for: Gujarat Lions, could not do well in the season but will be proud of the performance of Thampi, who won the ‘Emerging Player of IPL 10’ award. He picked 11 sticks off 12 games and his scalps include big names: Kohli, Dhoni, Gayle, Pollard and Amla. If he keeps his head and go back to domestic cricket and perform, an India call will not be far off for the fast bowler.

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Speaking to Sportstar on Friday, Thampi acknowledged the contributions of Australian great Glenn McGrath, who worked with Thampi at the MRF Pace Foundation. 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

McGrath is hailed as the finest fast bowler to have played the game. He said that Thampi was raw but wanted to learn quickly which is always a great sign.

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

Bowling fast can never be taught as the talent comes to a bowler naturally. Luckily for Thampi, he could run in and bowl fast and the rest was looked after by McGrath and MRF Pace Foundation head coach M. Senthilnathan. “If someone has speed we can definitely work on him and Thampi had that attribute,” Senthilnathan said.

Thampi says that bowling yorkers was something he learned playing tennis ball cricket. His ability was further nourished at the pace academy as McGrath put him into specific drills to bowl the full ball.

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” said McGrath.

Senthilnathan noted key findings of McGrath understanding of bowling a yorker. “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.”

For all his current success, McGrath warned that the second season of the IPL will be tougher as teams will already know what to expect from Thampi.

Senthilnathan said that Thampi’s next target is to play first-class cricket for Kerala and bowl fast whilst moving the ball in the air. “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.”

Thampi has showcased his ability on the big stage. The challenge for the young fast bowler will be to remain consistent and live up to the high expectations already set on him.

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