Yatish Singh, an 18-year-old off-spinning all-rounder of the Delhi Under-19 team, was called up to bowl for players from India and South Africa in the recently concluded T20I series.
Yatish was having lunch with his mother when he received a call from an official of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) to inform him that he had been selected as a net bowler and would be bowling for both Indian and South African batsmen. The 18-year-old was delighted, but he knew the task was challenging, especially for someone still playing junior cricket.
Sleepless nights, thoughts of being hammered by the batters, especially by people like Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer, erected by the legendary Rahul Dravid – these thoughts followed Yatish after the call from the DDCA official. He was called three days before the series and was given an explanation of the do’s and don’ts.
Yatish Singh: A Day in the Life of a Net Bowler
Yatish found his name in almost every net session route as he was the only off-spinner in the lot. Part of the Delhi Under-19 cricket team, he had represented the state in the Cooch Behar Trophy and Vinoo Mankad Trophy and had impressed everyone with his off spin.
The Delhi boy was one of six net bowlers selected to prepare for the Indian and South African batters – apart from Yatish, there were two pacemakers for the right arm, a leg spinner and two pacers for the left arm.
“I was very happy when I got the call up for the job as a bowler. It was a big assignment for someone who has just started his domestic career. It was a big opportunity for me. The environment of the Indian dressing room was amazing. players were very cooperative. They told me what I was doing right and wrong,” Yatish told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview.
FIRST DAY AT THE OFFICE
‘What deliveries should I bowl to Rishabh Pant?’, ‘What if I get billed for six?’, ‘What if I can’t bowl in the right areas?’, ‘Will I be able to impress everyone?’, ‘Will Dravid be impressed?’ – These thoughts floated like dark clouds over the net bowler’s head as he waited his turn, sitting in the waiting area at the reception. Suddenly a man comes in and yells ‘who is Yatish Singh’? The youngster raised his hand.
He was taken to a room and saw Rahul Dravid sitting there. Yatish was in awe. Batting coach Vikram Rathour went through some papers.
Dravid, Rathore and other team members began to explain to Yatish what his duties as a net bowler would be. All Yatish, unable to relax, could say was – ‘yes, sir’. Yatish was asked to practice for two days and then join the South African team’s nets and then the Indian team’s nets.
On the itinerary, Yatish’s name was written on almost every batter, thanks to the fact that he was the only off-spinner in the lot. Yatish and the other selected net bowlers practiced for two days, then joined the South African team’s nets. He had been given a list for that. The list included the names of the South African batters Yatish had to bowl to.
Yatish started watching their battle videos. He had a notebook and wrote down the areas where he would bowl for each batter.
The net bowler from Delhi had seen the South African players on TV and it was the first time he would meet them. He knew the superstars would play against the inexperienced net bowlers with ease, but he wanted to impress.
After two days, Yatish was ready for the main assignment and was given a box of balls and a special net. He started bowling to them at 4pm and bowled until 9pm, which included a few breaks.
He was appointed to bowl with players such as SA captain Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada.
Yatish with Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma
There was a smile everywhere as he managed to hit the stumps of Aiden Markram and David Miller.
“I did have goosebumps, but I could handle the nerves quite well (laughs). I bowled to South African captain Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen and Kagiso Rabada. I have these stars seen on television screens, but meeting them and bowling to them for the first time in my life was something huge for me. They were so muscular. They hit the ball with ease. I took tips from each of them,” Yatish continued. TimesofIndia.com.
“I was given time slots for a particular batsman and the number of overs to bowl to them. I had to cover it all in a day. They didn’t ask us to bowl a particular delivery. All I was asked was to bowl to one batsman for as long as possible and then switch to another. I fired Markram and Miller (bowled). I fired South African players more than the Indian players. Rabada was very happy with my bowling,” the 18-year-old said. year on to TimesofIndia .com.
MEET TEAM INDIA MEMBERS
Finally the day arrived for which Yatish had been waiting. He reached the stadium early, stood at the gate and waited for the Indian cricket team to arrive.
When the bus came in, he grabbed his phone, shot a video, and said hello to everyone. He hurried to the room where the team managers were sitting and gathered his itinerary. The list of batters he had to bowl included Rishabh Pant, Venkatesh Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav and Shreyas Iyer. He kissed that list, kept it in his pocket, and went straight to the ground.
Yatish Singh with Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav
He was instructed to bowl for two hours to Pant and then to other batsmen for an hour each.
He had done his homework and prepared for this assignment, just as he did for the bowling assignment for the South African baters. The preparations were the same, but the tension was sky high. After all, he met his favorite star and senior player from Delhi – Rishabh Pant.
The moment he put his finger on the seam of the ball and bent his arm, Dravid came and stood next to him. He threw a wicket-to-wicket delivery that Pant defended.
‘Well done’ – said Dravid in response to the delivery Yatish had bowled.
Yatish Singh with Rahul Dravido
“I was nervous and happy at the same time when I saw Mr Rahul standing next to me. Afterwards he asked about my background, my age, domestic experience, etc. It was a beautiful and memorable experience with the legend. I bowled to Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer and Kuldeep Yadav during the nets. They told me about the areas where to bowl. After every delivery, Rishabh bhaiya gave me feedback,” Yatish said.
“I asked Dravid sir and Vikram Rathore sir about my bowling. They gave me tips and feedback about my bowling. It was my childhood dream to communicate with Rahul Dravid sir someday. And it came true. I am so happy,” continues the youngster . told TimesofIndia.com.
WHAT NEXT FOR YATISH?
After an impressive net bowling order, gaining confidence, bowling for star players, Yatish is eager to keep working on his game and hopes to make it to the Indian Premier League next season.
“IPL has helped many cricketers. Bowling for players from all over the world will help me take my game to another level. I hope to be picked by an IPL team next season,” he said.
FROM AN OVERWEIGHT CHILD TO A SUITABLE CRICKETER
Yatish is a bowling all-rounder, but he takes his inspiration from India by beating the tough Virat Kohli.
Yatish had quite a physical transformation, going from an overweight kid to a fit cricketer. He gives credit to Deepak Surya, physiotherapist, S&C at the DDCA.
Deepak also worked at the NCA, conducting several rehabilitation programs under the then NCA director, Rahul Dravid. Yatish is coached by former Indian cricketer Ajay Sharma.
“It was Mr. Deepak who helped me reduce my weight and fit me for the game. He helped me in this great transformation. He was the one who motivated me and made me believe that nothing is impossible in life. He creates training programs for He gives me several exercises to do. I managed to throw long spells at the nets without asking for a break, just because of him,” he said.
“Deepak sir is not only a coach or instructor, he is also a great motivator. My coach Ajay Sharma also helped me a lot and set me up as a cricketer,” Yatish signed.