Senior Indian bowler Amit Mishra believes it is imperative for the growth of a leg-spinner to have a captain who believes in their ability and is willing to be patient and show confidence.
The 38-year-old, who is set to play for Delhi Capitals in Indian Premier League 2021, said there could be a lot more leg-spinners at the top level if they get support from captains at the domestic level.
“Any leg-spinner needs a good captain because when the bowler is under attack, you need that sort of a skipper, who would back you to the hilt and give you confidence even when you have gone for a few runs. A captain who basically understands the psyche of a leg-spinner,” said Mishra, who will be back in action for the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021.
Mishra has played 68 games across formats for India, and barring Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Rahul Chahar, there aren’t many quality leg-break bowlers in the horizon. Rahul Tewata is more of a batting all-rounder.
“In the past five-six years, we have had some good leg-spinners but we will get more quality as we get more such bowlers, who have learnt the craft, and share the knowledge of their art with next generation. The passing of knowledge is very important more so for leg spin which is an art form,” said Mishra, who is the second highest wicket-taker with 160 wickets from 150 IPL games, just behind Lasith Malinga’s 170 wickets.
“I am not for once saying that we don’t have good leg-spinners, we have quite a few but yes what a lot of them need is guidance. Once that guidance is available, you will see a large number of them.”
What are the qualities that make for a good wrist spinner?
“You should know how to bowl according to situations and which particular variation suits which situation. Also, a wrist spinner, apart from being a good wicket-taking option, should also strive to be someone who can also play the restrictive role, if need be.”
The batsmen have evolved with a variety of strokes and therefore, it has become increasingly more challenging for bowlers, especially in the T20 format.
“T20 is a game where you can’t afford to relax, especially in IPL, because batsmen are always looking to attack you. If you look over the years, how much variations that has come in T20 strokeplay and the bowler also needs to evolve.”
Mishra last played for India in 2017, and ironically, in his last ODI series he was player of the series with 15 wickets against New Zealand in 2016 and after two more white ball games (in T20 format), he was dropped for good.
Was he also a victim of the perception that he was always considered slower through the air?
“I can’t stop people from drawing their own conclusions but a proof of my abilities is the fact that I am playing the world’s toughest T20 league for the past 13 seasons, which is an achievement in itself.
“I am still second in the list of all-time T20 wicket-takers in IPL. Isse zyada kya performance karega insaan? (What else can one do?) I am a top performer in an elite league, where the competition is fierce.
“My job is to perform and I have been doing that for ages now, so what people think about me hardly makes a difference. No point being negative or bitter as it would hardly serve any purpose. I play because I still love this game. Next year, I will again play domestic cricket if my body permits.”
Mishra first played the IPL when Virender Sehwag was the captain of Delhi Daredevils and in 2008, Rishabh Pant was a kid playing cricket in his hometown of Rourkee. Pant, however, will now lead Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021.
“I had a good relation with Virender Sehwag and similarly I share a great bond with Rishabh Pant. I am very happy that he is the captain. He has changed himself in every aspect with regards to his game, fitness and inherent nature and that shows, he has changed his game completely in four-five months.”
Having recovered from a hand injury that he suffered in the last IPL, Mishra is now looking forward to a great season with the Delhi Capitals.
“Last season I missed out on playing the finals, something that I had waited for years. It felt good that all the teammates sent a lot of messages that they missed me. This year, I am raring to go and give my best,” he said.