They call him ‘Jadugar’. A magician who transforms bowling careers.
With his flowing mane, piercing eyes, and technical acumen Bharat Arun left his mark as India’s bowling coach from 2014 to the end of 2021, with just a nine-month gap in between.
Arun, who shares a close bond with former chief coach Ravi Shastri, said, “Ravi gives you freedom. He trusts you and never looks behind your back. But no shortcuts.”
Asked about the biggest legacy of the Virat Kohli-Shastri combine, Arun replied, “A fearless approach and being honest. We never looked for scapegoats. You need to be honest with your performances to be a better team.”
Talking about memorable conquests in his tenure, he said, “Winning the Test in Johannesburg, back-to-back Test series triumphs in Australia and the last Test series in England where we played exceedingly well. This team was World No. 1 for so long. So satisfying.”
On the evolution of Jasprit Bumrah, Arun said, “Before the South Africa tour in 2018, Ravi, Virat and myself had a chat. We wanted to pick Bumrah for the Test series, even though he was short of first-class experience.”
Arun elaborated, “Of course Virat had the job of convincing the selectors. Bumrah was picked. The rest is history.”
Bumrah was keen to be a Test match bowler, said Arun. “During my conversations with him, he was hungry for Test cricket. He didn’t want to be branded a limited-overs bowler.”
Arun explained, “And he had all the qualities, unique hard-to-pick action, pace, bounce, swing and a nasty short ball.”
About Mohammed Shami, Arun said, “He has among the best seam positions in present-day cricket. The challenge was to make him more consistent. He achieved that.”
About Ishant Sharma making a strong comeback, Arun said, “Ishant was not making the batsmen play. We had to change the angle of his release point to make the batsmen play him. Once that happened, he started finding the edges.”
On the thorny issue of choosing between R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on foreign tours, Arun said, “It was about the balance of the team. There was no other factor. Ashwin now is fitter than he ever was. He is bowling beautifully, and has a lot of years ahead.”
Jadeja’s batting prowess, his tight spin bowling, and his vibrant energy-instilling fielding were valuable too, said Arun. “It’s a tough call choosing between them on seaming pitches.”
Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar had to work hard on fitness to rediscover pace, Arun said.
Dwelling on Rahul Dravid’s appointment as the Indian coach, Arun said, “He is the best man for the job. Got all the qualities.”
Working with an IPL team and taking coaching to the grassroots level are among his plans.