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Interview with Tinu Yohannan

Tinu Yohannan is one of the rare natural athletes to play for India. With a solid training in MRF under the guidance of Pace Guru Dennis Lillee, Tinu has impressed everyone in whatever little opportunity he has had in playing for the country. He is tall, he is nippy and he gets the ball to move both sides. Tinu Yohanan is currently playing for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy.’s B.V.Swagath caught up with Tinu Youhanan to bring out this interview :

Tinu YohannanTinu Yohannan – the first player from Kerala to make it to the Indian Cricket Team. How does it feel and tell us about your success story.

Kerala, the name or the place doesn’t make any difference. Because, if you have the talent in you and you have to make it to the team, then you can make it to the team from any where. With a lot of hard work any body can enter the Indian team. But yes, being the first person from Kerala is a privilege for me. I felt great playing for the country, then was dropped and I am waiting for another chance now.

Tinu, Your father has been a prolific long-jumper, You were a high jumper, but now you are into cricket. What are the reasons for that shift?

The basic reason was my love for this game. I used to play a lot of cricket in school. Once I came to Chennai, I started playing a lot of cricket.

Ok, talk us through your test match debut at Mohali. You were one of the 5 debutants on that day. (Bangar, Siddiqui, Dawson and Foster were the other four.)

My debut was a very memorable one for me. Getting a wicket of my very first over really boosted up my confidence. I was very anxious before the match, just like any other player on his debut. During the warm-up, practice sessions before the debut match, you tend to be very anxious and same was the case with me.

Any magic balls that you bowled in that test match and you still remember.

I don’t remember any magic balls in that match (laughs). Obviously, I was giving my best in the 1st spell. It came out well as I got a wicket of the 1st over of the match.

What was your plan seeing the wicket? I mean what was your game plan after looking at the pitch?

Strategy mainly was to make the batsman play at every delivery as the wicket was helpful. Making the batsman play at every ball that too at a time when the pitch was assisting the bowlers, always created chances for a wicket to fall.

You were sharing the new ball with Iqbal Siddiqui and both of you were making debut. So was there any pressure on both of you as it was a big Test Match against England?

There was sought of an expectancy from us but within us we had no pressure at all. We had decided to give our 100%, and take whatever wickets we get. Before the match also, we thought about it and even during the team meeting they decided that both of us would open the bowling. We won the match in the end and I think that’s what matters.

Who inspired you a lot and which fast bowlers fascinated you?

There wasn’t any body as such who inspired me, but I should say that the fast bowling talent was already in me. So I picked up fast bowling, and once I came to Chennai, Dennis Lillee was coaching me. He trained me for around 3 years, and the time that I spent with him at the MRF pace foundation has been very crucial for me.

What did Dennis Lilee have to say when he saw your bowling for the first time?

He told me that I am pretty raw and I required to put in a lot of hard work in to my bowling. He told that with good practice, fast bowling would come naturally in a pretty good time. He asked me to work hard and have patience.

How hard do you work on your bowling action?

Bowling action…. I still work on my bowling action. My action is not an easy action to work on. I always try to keep improving my action. It has always given me dividends. I have been injury free and have been fit thanks to MRF pace foundation for that.

So does being a natural athlete, help you in Cricket?

Definitely, that helped a lot. I used to do a lot of training at school. So my muscles were used to that sought of conditions. Fast bowling as you know requires lot of fitness. So being an athlete added to my good fitness.

We have been talking about fast bowling till now, how seriously does Tinu Yohannan take up his batting?

At this stage I think that batting is important for any cricketer playing at the International level. Even if it’s a bowler or a wicket-keeper, you need to take up your batting very seriously nowadays. The runs scored by the tail-ender in the last 2-3 overs can turn out to be so crucial. So, I have taken up batting very seriously now and I am working on it.

Tell us about your ODI career. You had a dream spell of 3/33 against West Indies at Barbados. Anything interesting you remember about that tour of West Indies regarding the crowd and the islands…

That was a really good start for me. I took 3 wickets against West Indies, but the next immediate game wasn’t that good. It got washed out and got reduced to 25 overs per side. A 25-over game is anyone’s game actually. You can just do the basic and that’s what I was trying to do. Personally speaking, West Indies is a beautiful place. The people are really good and have great knowledge about the game. They are always behind you if you do well and always behind your back if you don’t do well (laughs). I could learn a lot of things from the West Indian fast bowling greats like Michael Holding and Walsh.

What was the advice given to you by the West Indian greats?

The advice that I got was to stick to my natural line and length. They told me not to try anything extra. They asked me not to come under the influence of too many people saying “do this… that”. “You know what you are capable of and continue performing according to your capability.

You were also in the Indian Team during the confidence shattering tour of New Zealand. You played the Test Match at Hamilton. What was the mood in the camp during such a difficult period?

Actually, the mood in the camp was quite good. If you noticed, all the matches played in that series were low scoring games basically. Actually they were anyone’s games to be frank. If we dismissed them for a low score, then they also could do the same. The conditions were as such. We always had the confidence that we could come back, but unfortunately the wickets were really damp. So you couldn’t really blame the batsmen. So, I don’t feel it was a confidence shattering tour. The morale of the team was still high.

You are just 24 years old, so do you think you have ample amount of time to get back into the Indian team?

Definitely, time is in my court. Its upto me how I make good use of that time. So I am trying to make a comeback soon into the Indian side.

What are your plans/goals for this seasons Ranji Trophy?

This Ranji Season, I haven’t planned anything as of yet. I’ll just go through things that I have done throughout my previous seasons. I will just stick to my basics and hopefully do well.

Tinu, what is going to be your strategy 1. It’s a seaming wicket and 2. if it’s a flat track?

There aren’t any special strategies that I decide. The main thing that I make sure is make the batsman play at every single ball. So a seaming wicket or a flat wicket is the same for me. You just need to maintain a specific line and length.

What is your message to the budding fast bowlers or the club level fast bowlers?

I would say that fast bowling is not an easy job. It requires lot of hard work and persistence. I would just advise to keep practicing all the time. Improve your technique if you feel that something is wrong with your action or your line or length.

How to sustain one’s fast bowling rhythm?

Its very important to keep on bowling, even in your off season. You need to keep the rhythm going. Keep working on your bowling all the time. Keep thinking on ways with which you can improve your bowling.

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