April 22, 2015 2:05:26 am
Had KK Jiyas not grabbed his chance to attend a summer cricket coaching camp in Calicut six years ago, the 23-year old would perhaps have been a driver in Doha, just like his father and elder brother. Jiyas, now a contracted player with Delhi Daredevils, was so clueless about his abilities that it came as a surprise to him when his coach, K Sunil, wondered just how he had picked up his skills as a chinaman bowler.
“‘Chinaman? What is chinaman sir?’ Those were my exact words when Sunil sir posed me that question. I honestly had no clue,” says Jiyas. “It was all a bit shocking when my coach and all the other senior players looked so surprised to see a ball turning so sharply on that matting wicket. My coach asked me to continue doing what I was doing. And today,I have an IPL contract just because of my bowling style.”
While Calicut was where it all started, Ernakulam, in Kochi, was where Jiyas sharpened his art and took his strides towards becoming a professional cricketer. Hailing from a poor family, the Ernakulam Cricket Club allowed him to pursue his passion by allowing him to rub shoulders with the likes of S Sreesanth and also paid for his education. He now has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the St. Pauls College. It goes without saying that the club soon became his second home.
“My family was poor but they supported my decision to shift to Ernakulam fully,” he says, before adding, “The deal with my father was a simple one. I told him that if I don’t make it by the time I’m 25, I’ll happily join him in Doha as a driver.” That deal, as one can guess, is perhaps not valid anymore.
Although Jiyas represented his state at both the under-23 and under-25 levels, the bowler feels that his real improvement happened only after the Rajasthan Royals recruited him in their development squad. Why, you ask. His answer is a simple one. Brad Hogg — the leading chinaman in world cricket in the new era.
“I was selected in the 31-member squad of Rajasthan Royals, where I met Brad Hogg. I had watched his videos as a youngster to improve my action. Now he was standing right behind me and telling me where to improve,” the 23-year old says. So what was Hogg’s best advice to him. “He told me that I must improve my shoulder strength so I can bowl quicker through the air.”
Jiyas claims that Gary Kirsten, coach of Delhi Daredevils, told him the same thing. “If I am bowling at 80 kmph then I need to start bowling at probably about 92kmph. At slower speeds, it is easy for the batsmen to hit me. If I bowl faster, then it will be difficult to pick his variations,” the youngster adds.
The keen learner has been chalking down the advice he has been getting in a diary. Imran Tahir asked him to develop the backspinner, a ball the South African says changed his career for the better as a leg-spinner. And Amit Mishra told him to keep things simple and be patient.
Patience he may need in plenty as Delhi’s spin-heavy attack will probably ensure that he doesn’t get a chance to show off his skills on the field this season. But beyond the boundary, Jiyas is already a winner. “My father decided to retire from the driving job and has returned back to Calicut,” he says, voice beaming with pride.
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