The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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De Villiers advocates specialist coach for Nehra, Zaheer

Durban: Had Fanie de Villiers’ TV commitments not come in the way, it’s possible he would have been India’s bowling coach in the ongoing World Cup. As it turns out, though, the Indians have done exceptionally without specialised help.

“Yeah, they’ve been doing very well... For the first time, John Wright has a product on his hands. The biggest difference, of course, is that Jawagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra are combining pace with movement. It’s a terrific combination,” Fanie told The Telegraph aboard flight SA 543 from Johannesburg to this port city, Saturday morning.

He added: “In any case, pace alone can do things... Gives options, opens doors... The Indians have been good in conditions with more swing and bounce... They’ve picked wickets early and have consistently broken partnerships.

“The question, however, is: Can they maintain this strike-rate back home, where conditions are different' Also, will they be able to keep the momentum for not just one Test, but a series' For an honest appraisal, such questions need to be asked.”

According to Fanie, Srinath deserves much praise for “excellent” use of the conditions. “He’s bowled at 140-plus, which is wonderful... Perhaps, he’s spending more time at the gym... Perhaps, he hasn’t ever been fitter...”

Commenting on Zaheer and Nehra, he said: “The former hits the deck hard and gets movement after pitching — clearly, that’s encouraging... As for Nehra, he is quick but doesn’t appear very strong... Both need to be monitored and, in my opinion, only a specialist coach can do that.”

Reacting to the likelihood of Srinath quitting after the World Cup, Fanie quipped: “If he can make more money outside the game, why not' After all, fast bowling isn’t an easy vocation. If anything, it gets tougher when you are 30-plus.”

Picking the Srinath-headed attack as the No.2, behind Australia’s, he felt the projected India versus Australia final could go India’s way if “wickets are taken early”. As he put it: “Continuing with the present formula may actually see the World Cup heading towards India.”

Significantly, Fanie remarked he would “give a thought” to any offer from the Board of Control for Cricket in India. “I have the players’ respect... I’ve played the game at the highest level... I’m not lacking in the two qualities a full-fledged or specialist coach must have,” he concluded, as the Boeing 737 began its descent.

Fanie’s last appearance for South Africa was five years ago.

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