Cricket needs players like Irfan, says Simons

Simons denied reports he had been sacked, claiming he had told the BCCI that he won't be able to continue as the bowling coach after the tour of Australia.

Irfan Pathan celebrates after dismissing West Indies' Lendl Simmons in Chennai on December 11, 2011. (AFP/Getty …

Zaheer Khan has a good understanding of his craft; Vinay Kumar is a hard working cricketer and has a great work ethic; Umesh Yadav is a good learner and Irfan Pathan is an exciting talent, according to India's outgoing bowling coach Eric Simons.

Simons told Times of India that in India bowlers need to be more innovative and learn to be patient. "In India, you need to be more innovative and have variations because there’s not much in the wickets for the bowlers. Just being patient and sticking to the gameplan is one of the lessons they all need to learn," he said.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Simons will be sacked at the end of the ongoing Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia, and would be replaced by Australia's Joe Dawes. However, Simons denied reports he had been sacked, claiming he had told the BCCI that he won't be able to continue as the bowling coach after the tour of Australia.

Simons said he was disappointed to see reports claiming he was sacked. “When Duncan Fletcher became the coach after the World Cup, he asked me to extend my contract so that I could work with him during the transition period and the end of the England tour which I did. Then he asked me to stay on till the Australian series, but I had then told him that I would be able to do so only till the Australian series. He did speak to me after the West Indies series if it was possible for me to extend my stay, but I didn’t do that for a number of reasons. My contract was extended twice and it ends now and that’s the reason I’m going. There is no other issue around it and I was disappointed to see the press reports," he told Times of India.

Talking about his experience with the different Indian bowlers, Simons said Ishant Sharma should focus only on Tests and added India should stick with the lanky pacer. "For Ishant it was the right decision to focus on Tests. I do believe he is ready for One-Day cricket, he’s bowling exceptionally well. It’s all about control and confidence. There have been times when there were opportunities and he couldn’t pick those wickets. He’s bowled a lot of wicket-taking deliveries but has been unlucky," Times of India quoted Simons as saying.

Simons also said Praveen Kumar knows how to adapt to the conditions on offer; adding though he has been impressed with Sreesanth's skills, he needs to be more consistent and improve his work ethic. "Sometimes great cricketers are not (the ones) with tremendous skills but (those who) have a great work ethic are the ones that kick on and go further. For a guy like Sree, I am disappointed. I think it’s one of those cliches that you can take the horse to the water but you can’t make him drink it," Bangalore Mirror quoted him as saying.

Simons feels Zaheer has a big role in mentoring the younger bowlers in the team as he has the ability to teach those around him. He also praised Umesh and said he is one of the most exciting bowlers in the world. "Umesh’s now got the beautiful away swing at 145-plus. He’s also an incredible athlete with lots of strength. He’s one of those who when he bowls at 145 kmph, feels like it’s 150, because he’s got such a rhythmical action. I hope he grows and understands his craft better. He’s one of the most exciting bowlers in the world today," Simons said.

He is also excited at Irfan forcing his way back into the India team. "World cricket needs players like Irfan. He is exciting, he hits the ball, he can swing when on song. Exciting to see him back, excited about his game. At the end of the day, it comes down to the player embracing what he has to do and make sure he is always ahead of his game," Simons told Bangalore Mirror.

Talking about the spin bowlers, Simons said R Ashwin has grown as a bowler, but he regretted the fact that Pragyan Ojha has been forced to sit on the sidelines more often than not. "Ashwin has been bowling really well. He has grown a lot as a bowler. Ojha has grown as a bowler, we’ve talked a lot about the seam bowlers, but he has grown leaps and bounds as a cricketer and as a bowler. It was a pity that he wasn’t able to play a bigger role in the team’s make-up," Simons told Bangalore Mirror.

Simons, who joined the Indian team in January 2010, has been under fire since India's lacklustre bowling shows in England and Australia despite favourable conditions. His replacement, Dawes played 76 first-class matches for Queensland between 1997 and 2005, before his career was cut short by a knee injury. He was the bowling coach of South Australia in June 2011 and worked in the same role for the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League 2011-12. South Australia coach Darren Berry praised Dawes's appointment saying, ""I think he'll be an excellent appointment for them, because he has a good manner with people, he has a good knowledge of the game."