New Delhi: Former India speedster Venkatesh Prasad fails to understand why Ishant Sharma is still learning about his bowling when he should be the undisputed leader of the pace attack.
Ishant regained his mojo in the recent series in Sri Lanka but his 65-Test career has been an up and down one ever since he made his debut eight years ago.
"I am not able to understand. Having played for so long, he is still getting to know about his bowling. He should be spearheading the pace attack for India without a doubt. He not only needs to spearhead the attack consistently, he should pass on the confidence to other fast bowlers in the team," Prasad, who has also been the bowling coach of the national team, told PTI on Friday.
Ishant has showed sparks of brilliance throughout his career but has been far from consistent since bursting on to the scene with a ferocious spell at Perth in January 2008, helping India post a memorable win Down Under.
Though he has become the fourth Indian pacer to complete 200 Test wickets, his average stands at a modest 36.51. It is a shade better in ODIs, comprising 106 wickets in 76 games at 31.25.
"Ishant has been around for a long long time. With his experience, he should play fearlessly. He should have lot of confidence in his ability but that is something I have not seen regularly. When you have played for long, you need to show that confidence. The other thing is that you need to pass on that confidence to the other bowlers. That is what his role should be," explained Prasad, who represented India in 33 Tests and 161 ODIs.
He further spoke on what Ishant's role should be in the team.
"Wickets is an outcome. I have not seen him bowl with confidence regularly. When he is among wickets, he is confident. That holds true for everyone. But a player like Ishant, who has played so many Test matches, automatically should be showing the confidence in all circumstances and not worry about the wickets."
Ishant did impress with the ball in Sri Lanka, especially in the final Test in Colombo, but what was talked about more was his boorish behaviour through the three-match series.
Prasad is glad that Ishant is back to bowling well but still needs to do more to be consistently successful.
"He has got to mix it up. His strength is to bowl back of a length and push the batsmen on to the backfoot. But he needs to mix it up by bowling couple of fuller deliveries. There are bowlers who pitch it up often and they need to mix it up by bowling back of length. He needs to get batsmen on the front foot. That will make him even more effective."
Like most experts, Ishant's on-field behaviour that got him a one Test ban did not go down well even with Prasad.
"You cannot go overboard with aggression, as simple as that. You need to uphold the spirit of the game. You need to follow the code of conduct because a lot of young kids are watching you. Controlled aggression is needed. He needs to focus on his skill, focus on getting the batsman out rather than getting over-aggressive. Being a senior with more than 60 Test matches under his belt, he needs to conduct himself properly and be a role model," he summed up.