Subroto Banerjee was one of the few Indian bowlers with a natural ability to swing the ball, but he faded away after appearing in just one Test and six ODIs in the early 90s. Talent alone is not a guarantee to a successful career. With the abilities he possessed, Banerjee deserved a longer run which never happened. He, though, chose coaching as a route to success and gave India a premier fast bowler in Umesh Yadav.
Banerjee groomed Umesh since joining the Vidarbha Cricket Association’s academy here as a coach in 2008. He has extensively worked with fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee and learnt the nuances of coaching from him. He left Indian shores and settled in Australia where he established himself as a bowling coach. It was only at the insistence of Sachin Tendulkar that he chose to return to India and help the country nurture its pace talent.
While Banerjee left Nagpur — this year — and joined Jharkhand as coach, he keeps coming back to the city and helps his wards. He enthusiastically spoke about Umesh.
"I can proudly say that he is my first trainee. I have seen him since his younger days and I knew that the kind of pace he had he would make it big. The selectors are doing the right thing by preserving him," Banerjee told Mail Today.
"Anyone who can bowl at 140 plus needs to be looked after and used in short bursts. When you are bowling at that pace, injuries will come your way. See how Australia used Brett Lee. They sometimes gave him rest for the whole season." Banerjee said Umesh’s work ethic and hunger to learn would take him to places.
"Mark my word he will go a long way. More than the quality of his bowling, his dedication is praiseworthy. He is a very good student of the game and he always ensures that he gets the best out of me."
For an Indian bowler to work as a fast bowling coach in Australia is an achievement in itself and Banerjee is happy that the Australians had faith in his abilities.
"I have been the bowling coach at different clubs in Australia and they trusted me. They know about fast bowling. They will not allow just anybody to come and teach them, so that way it is an achievement for me — an Indian — to go there and be a fast bowling coach," said Banerjee whose list of trainees include Mitchell Starc, who hails from New South Wales.
He was hopeful about India’s future in fast bowling. "Now more and more bowlers want to ball fast in India. There is Ishant Sharma, Umesh, Varun Aaron, Rahul Shukla and more.
There is a lot of talent that needs to be groomed. The BCCI has done well to give them the resources too. In our times, there was only Javagal Srinath and Prashant Vaidya," he said.