Zaheer has a big role to play as a mentor, while Ishant should focus on Test matches: Eric Simons

Given his experience in dealing with different bowlers, India’s outgoing bowling coach Eric Simons believes that “Zaheer Khan has a big role to play as a mentor” while “Ishant Sharma should be focusing on Test matches”. In an interview to The Times Of India, Simons said that Vinay Kumar’s work ethics impressed the coach who also rates Umesh Yadav as “one of the most exciting bowlers in the world”. Interestingly, he feels that Sreesanth’s skills are just phenomenal.

“Yadav is an incredible athlete with lots of stamina and 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,” says Simons.

Meanwhile, Simons has denied reports which claimed that the 50-year old South African, who came on board during the Gary Kirsten regime, had been sacked. In fact, he stressed that after the 2011 World Cup, he had extended his contract twice, but had made it clear to the BCCI that he won’t be able continue after the tour of Australia.  He told TOI, “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.”

According to a report in The Tribune, Vinay Kumar has impressed with nine wickets at a staggering average 20.11 - a wicket every 25th ball - in the ongoing Commonwealth Bank one-day series. With the likes of Lasith Malinga and Ryan Harris in the fray, his is the case of the meek who has inherited the earth. “Oh, he must have bagged tail-enders. Or, his economy rate must be atrocious. Surely, the scalps are to catches in the deep when the batsmen are going for maximum. All wrong, for he has mostly got Pontings and Jayawardenes and Warners; his economy rate is 4.89 and the catches are unerringly the pouches in the slip cordon,” says the report.

Meanwhile, his recent poor run notwithstanding, Australian cricket team's stand-in skipper Ricky Ponting says he is still "worth a place" in the side but concedes that reputation alone won't be enough to get him the selectors' nod all the time. According to a report in The Indian Express, Ponting said, "I think I am (worth a place in the team) but you'd better ask the selectors what they think about that. My last four games have not been what they would have liked but I guess if the selectors were thinking that way already then they probably wouldn't have picked me for the start of the series. There are still a few senior players around the side and they (the selectors) made it clear to the younger guys at the start of the summer that it was vital they have a little bit of experience around them."