Never give up: Bhajji advises young spinners

New Delhi: Feisty Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh advises junior spinners like Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha to back their talent with toil to prolong their international careers.

In an interview with PTI, the veteran of 80 Tests and 201 ODIs said an average batsman’s approach has changed a great deal in recent times where scoring quick runs even in Tests has become a norm.

“Cricket has changed a lot and it’s still changing. The truth is, now it is even more difficult for spinners to grow.

“Now you have a lot of Twenty20s and ODIs, which are invariably high-scoring affairs. Even Test cricket has changed. There was a time when 250 was considered a par score in a day but now you have teams scoring 350-plus or even 400 with ease.

“No wonder, you don’t see too many young spinners coming up. An average spinner today is scared of flighting the ball or trying to get those big, spectacular turns. That is an art and I’m afraid it is on the wane,” Harbhajan rued.

Despite the difficulties, Harbhajan asks the aspiring spinners to develop wicket-taking abilities rather than looking to contain runs.

“I think we still need to find youngsters who can overcome this habit of containing and are willing to take the risk and responsibility, keeping enough faith in their ability to do well,” said Harbhajan, who has 586 international wickets under his belt.

Harbhajan has been key to India’s success at home and abroad and the off-spinner effortlessly slipped into the spin spearhead’s mantle once Anil Kumble exited the scene. The off-spinner now wants to pass on to the youngsters the same advice he got from his mentor

“Be it Ojha or Amit Mishra, they are all talented guys and you have to give them time to settle down. Sometimes, they will find the going easy and at times, they would have to be patient.

“My advice to them is to never give up and keep trying. That is what I learnt from Anil Bhai and I would pass on the same message to the youngsters. They have to keep working hard if they want to play for a long time and bowl a lot of overs for India,” said Harbhajan.

Soon after India became the number one Test team in the world, batting great Sunil Gavaskar rued the country was yet to find its next off-spin prospect.

Harbhajan conceded he had not played enough domestic cricket to take names but hoped the great Indian spin tradition would continue unabated.


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