It was around 5 PM and Kuldeep Yadav was waiting for something with utmost eagerness. He was promised a meet with his cricketing idol Shane Warne by coach Anil Kumble. Warne, part of the commentary team for the 1st Test was notified about the same and was more than willing to spare a few minutes with the young chinaman. Moments later, Kuldeep who was bowling at the practice nets, watched Warne walk towards the boundary ropes.
His eyes lit up; there was a hint of enjoyable nervousness on his face as he along with Kumble walked up to talk to Warne. This was Kuldeep’s fanboy moment. This was his moment to savour. This was his dream coming true. “Shane Warne is the reason why I started playing cricket and took up bowling. I used to bowl fast initially, but I switched to spin looking at videos of Shane Warne,” Kuldeep begins taking us on a journey of reminisce. “As a kid, I would get amazed looking at his bowling style and his ways of getting wickets. He has been an idol for me and to be honest, I still have his bowling videos on my phone.”
Speaking about his first meet and greet with the spin legend, you can notice Kuldeep lost for words – not to forget that glint in his eyes still very much present. “When I walked towards him, I couldn’t believe that I was standing in front of him. He greeted me with a warm smile and it felt very heartening to see a legend embrace you in that manner. It was a great experience. I asked a lot of things about my bowling and the different ways to use my variations effectively. He felt very confident about my bowling and said he had been following my performances of late. Those words are like gold for me.”
Further, Kuldeep got into nitty-gritties of his meet. “I asked him about bowling techniques, planning dismissals and reading the game of a batsman. I wanted to know about things he observed as a bowler during his playing days. He spoke to me about my bowling action and the kind of alignment my body should have while bowling from over or round the wicket. Incidentally, we figured both had the same issues while running diagonally round the wicket and how we would lose out on bowling balance. He gave me tips on the same and got talking about my variations.”
“I even showed him my different grips that I use for variations. He was pleased with it and said if I could get more command on my variations, I could become a much better bowler. He said, a chinaman is a special bowler and I should make use of this quality of mine. He gave a vision into his plans, how he would observe certain nuances of a batsman like their feet movement, grip etc. It was a very insightful chat.”
A meeting that lasted for almost 20 minutes had left Kuldeep awestruck and even more motivated to hone his bowling skills. With Kumble always round the corner, and some valuable words of wisdom from Warne, Kuldeep is certain this meeting is going to do him a world of good. “It was a dream to be standing with (bowlers with) more than 1300 wickets by your side,” he gushed. “As a youngster, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Shane Warne and Anil Kumble talking to you about spin bowling is huge and I will cherish this for the rest of my life. I never thought that I would be acknowledged by two legends of the game and talk about spin bowling to them. I have no words to express this feeling right now.”