Shami: ‘If I’m here today, the credit goes to my brother and father’

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Fast bowler says India’s Test success is the “result of the work we’ve put in over the last 6-7 years”

Mohammed Shami has credited his father and his brother for the success he has enjoyed as a Test cricketer. Shami hails from Sahaspur Ali Nagar, a village in the Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh, and it was the encouragement of his family, he says, that made it possible for him to begin his journey from that remote cricketing outpost and eventually become only the fifth Indian fast bowler to pick up 200 Test wickets.

He achieved the feat on day three of the Centurion Test, getting there with his fifth wicket of South Africa’s first innings, Kagiso Rabada caught behind by Rishabh Pant. Shami’s 5 for 44 helped India secure a first-innings lead of 130.

“I’ve said many times in the media that I want to credit my father,” Shami said in his post-match press conference. “I come from a village where there are no facilities even today. My father would force me to travel 30km from there, and sometimes accompany me, and that struggle has always stayed with me, and I always credit my father and brother who backed me and helped me play the game in those conditions and that situation. If I’m here today, the credit goes to them.”

Shami is a key component of a fast-bowling unit that has transformed India into a team that routinely wins Test matches all over the world. Asked who deserves the credit for creating that group, Shami said it was important to recognise the work put in by the bowlers themselves.

“If India’s pace bowling is so strong, it’s come on the backs of our own skills, we’ve all come here having built our strengths,” he said. “You can say that it’s the result of the hard work we’ve put in over the last 6-7 years.

“Yes, we’ve had support staff who’ve always been with us, to support our skills, but you can’t name one person. It’s the result of the work we’ve put in over the last 6-7 years, so I give credit to that hard work, and the credit should always go to the person who’s put in that hard work.”

Shami’s performance on Tuesday was particularly noteworthy since it led an Indian bowling effort that missed its spearhead for a significant part of the day, with Jasprit Bumrah going off the field with a twisted ankle midway through his first spell.

“It’s not a [serious] injury, he came back and bowled, but obviously, when your unit is short of one bowler, you always have extra pressure, especially in Test matches where you have to bowl long spells,” Shami said. “It tends to be in the back of your mind, but we had five bowlers and we could make up. We managed it well as a unit, and there wasn’t so much pressure.”

Bumrah eventually returned to the field and picked up the final wicket of South Africa’s innings.

“Everything is fine [with Bumrah]. As you saw, he came back and bowled and took the last wicket too,” Shami said. “It’s always painful when you twist your ankle, and you always hope it heals quickly, but he came back and even fielded for one hour, so I think he will be fine, there are no issues.”

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