Personal call for Kohli, others to play County ahead of England tour: Zaheer Khan

The former India bowler feels that players have to personally decide if they truly wish to pursue county cricket.

Mumbai: Life had come full circle for Zaheer Khan in 2006. From establishing himself as a regular in Team India following his heroics in the 2000 ICC knockout trophy to now finding himself out-of-favour with the national team selectors after inconsistent performances and ailing injuries.

Fast forward to 2015, he would go down as one of the greats to spearhead India's bowling attack. But what was it that sparked such an incredible turnaround?

All it took was county cricket stint with Worcestershire that would soon prove to be the turning point of his career. Under the tutelage of the now late Graham Dilley, a former Worcestershire bowling consultant, the former left-arm pacer went on to tweak certain aspects of his bowling.

The change in results bore fruits as he finished at the top of the leading wicket-takers list in Division Two with 78 scalps in 16 matches, the numbers enough to help him earn a recall.

And given his illustrious success on English soil, Zaheer feels that Indian players have to personally decide if they truly wish to pursue county cricket.

“Ishant Sharma is playing county cricket currently, so it’s a very individual call to go and play county. So far, I have not seen a structure where the board (BCCI) is suggesting a player should go and play county. It is a personal call, just like Virat Kohli wishing to play there. So the decision depends on each individual player – whether he needs that exposure to the conditions.

"Right now, I do not see that many players have not toured England. With the kind of squad we have, most of them have been in England and have played cricket there. So they are pretty aware of what kind of conditions have to offer and they can prepare accordingly,” the 39-year-old said at the sidelines of the Pro Star League on Friday.

Zaheer is involved as an advisor for the Pro Star League, an under-16 tournament that aims to unearth talent at the grassroots level.

With the England series approaching in July, Virat Kohli and team will begin the tour with the Twenty20 and the ODI series followed by the five-match Test action in August. And with questions being raised about the preparation time for the long format, Zaheer opined it was adequate enough.

“I think one and half month is enough time to get used to the Test conditions. If you start with ODI and T20 matches that is certainly going to give you enough time to get acclimatised and most of the players are playing all the three formats, so your key players will get enough time to get used to the wickets. And one thing with England, the weather is not consistent.

"If there are overcast conditions the ball is going to swing around so there's nothing much you can do about it. But at the end of the day, you got to have the right frame of mind, the right technique to deal with it as a bowler or as a batsman,“ he continued.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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