Mohammed Shami is a pacer with all elements in place as they should be: WV Raman

Raman coached Shami during the pacer's early days with Bengal Ranji team.

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Mohammed Shami
Mohammed Shami. (Photo by CHRISTIAAN KOTZE/AFP via Getty Images)

Former India women’s team coach WV Raman has lauded pacer Mohammed Shami, whom he coached during his formative years, when Shami was the part of the Bengal Ranji team. A decade later, Shami has gone on to establish himself as one of the most vital cogs of the Indian pace attack, having taken most wickets for the team in overseas Tests since 2015.

He stood out recently against South Africa in the Centurion Boxing Day Test, playing an instrumental role in making India the first-ever Asian team to win a Test at the venue. Raman, who saw Shami from close quarters and tracked his success since his early days, revealed what he is made of and how he derives the will to succeed.

Recalling the time when he first saw Shami, he said: “The first thing that impressed me was the way he went about things. If you’re talking about the technical side of things, he almost had all the elements that go into fast bowling. From your run-up, acceleration, alignment, there are various technical components, protocols that are in play if you want to be a fast bowler,” Raman told News18.

“The other thing was the way he could make the ball fizz off the pitch. Not only the pace, but the lateral movement he could get. This is something special. Normally you see a lot of bowlers not doing enough in terms of completing their follow through to get the ball to fizz because they are focusing on swing. They end up just putting the ball there rather than finishing strong.”

There were never any doubts with Mohammed Shami’s attitude: WV Raman

Revealing what kind of attitude Shami possessed, Raman recalled a time when he went on to bowl despite being down with high fever: “In terms of attitude, there were never any doubts. To cut a long story short, I’ve seen him bowl flat out, in the last session of the last day, with a 60-over-old ball, while he was running a temperature of 102. This was in his debut game. You didn’t need anything further to tell you what kind of attitude that boy had.”

However, unlike back then, when Shami was just a bustling pacer in his early 20s who was trying to make a mark, he has established his credentials now, and is into his 30s. How would he cope with the challenge of increasing age and maintaining his performance?

“He is a hit the deck bowler. He cannot rely only on his shoulder to do the work for him. He has to have his entire body working in perfect coordination. At the end of the day the effort that he is going to give when he releases the ball, is dependent on all the links of the chain that came together to get him to that point,” Raman said.

“For a fast bowler, all the links in the chain have to be in place. If one or two are getting weaker or go out of alignment, things can go awry and a fast bowler can completely go off the rails. That is something he will work out. He understands what he does well and what can pose a challenge in the future,” he added.

“In that sense, Shami is not like a Bumrah who has tremendous strength in the back, core and shoulder. Shami is more like a traditional, coach-recommended kind of fast bowler with all the elements in place as they should be,” Raman signed off.

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