How Jurel cracked Test code: 4 hrs of facing spin at Talegaon, 140 overs of batting per day

PTI, Feb 25, 2024, 5:48 PM IST

Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Facing four hours of spin garnished with hundreds of throwdowns and tackling 14 different bowlers in a single net session on a daily basis went into the making of Dhruv Jurel, who announced his arrival on the big stage with a quiet confidence.

The son of a Kargil war veteran, who in his quiet but effective manner made his debut in Rajkot, seemed to have sealed his Test spot with a chiselled 90 in the first innings of the fourth match against England on Sunday.

It has taken the 23-year-old from Agra around 18 months of tremendous hardwork to develop his game and he has been praised by none other than the great Sunil Gavaskar for his “MSD like game awareness”.

Former Mumbai batter Zubin Bharucha, who is also Rajasthan Royals’ High Performance Director, spoke about the process that Jurel followed and how he pushed his body to the limits while training at RR High Performance Academy in Talegaon before the start of the Test series against England.

“We have been preparing for the last 18 months taking the version (T20, ODI’s or Test matches) out of the equation and the practice and merely focusing on the how and where runs can be scored,” Bharucha, who helped Yashasvi Jaiswal in developing his power game for international cricket, told PTI.

Bharucha, who played alongside Ravi Shastri, Sachin Tendulkar, Sanjay Manjrekar and Vinod Kambli for a very formidable Mumbai side in the early and mid 1990s gave an incredible piece of statistic.

“Just before the (debut) Test match he came to the RR HPC in Talegaon and batted for 140 overs in a day, it took over four hours on different spinning surfaces. It was a monumental practice session, one of the few that matched Jaiswal’s long sessions,” Bharucha revealed.

A day in a Test match has 90 overs, which is 540 balls plus extras, but 140 overs is effectively 840 deliveries in a single day. How was that even possible? Bharucha explained the process.

“All (bowlers and throwdown men) are standing there at the same time. And the sequence is one throws for the flick. Next one for the cut. Next one for the pull. Next one for the straight drive. We do this on multiple surfaces (spinning, grass, bounce, wet cement), with multiple types of balls (rubber, tennis, cricket) and multiple types of bats (heavy/light/thin etc).

“Within this also we have one bunch who do it with the hand and the next bunch who do it with the wanger (throwdown apparatus Roboarm). Behind them are the spinners, and behind them the fast bowlers.

“So, one round in the nets would comprise around 14 people throwing, wanging and bowling, as opposed to the traditional way, where you may have like three spinners and three fast bowlers (for example) bowling one round.

“That’s how we got through 140 overs in a day’s practice for Dhruv,” he said.

Bharucha explained the need for young batters to practice “sequencing” where they know that no two deliveries will be same, and that’s how the batter prepares for all eventualities.

“The discussion before this innings with Dhruv was ‘go down to the level of your practice and everything will be fine’. The talk is always about staying hungry.

“Like Jaiswal did to Anderson. First flick into the on-side, then you know you are forcing the bowler to bowl outside off, so let’s be prepared to attack him in that region (six over cover). Then he can’t bowl outside off or outside leg.

“So you can attack him straight down the ground (six down the ground). All our practice is set up in this manner. No two balls will land in the same spot during our drills. We even have our set throwers who are named Flick, Cut, Pull, Drive. It’s funny but our boys loved it.” Destiny does play a role for people who are destined to achieve great things. It was Jurel’s U19 and UP teammate Kartik Tyagi who recommended him for Rajasthan Royals trials.

Funnily, there was another batter-keeper, an U19 World Cup winner (2018) named Aryan Juyal, who also did well in trials and scouts were a bit confused.

But Bharucha always knew whom they were signing.

“I remembered him (Jurel) hitting this one ball over extra cover for an enormous six and thought this looked different and special. Even our own RR selection team was confused which player we were going after.

“But I requested them to check the video of the guy who hit that six over extra cover and they came back saying it was Dhruv Jurel. I was very clear that’s the one RR should be chasing come the auction day.”

By Kushan Sarkar

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