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For Varun, English summer was all about warming the bench

Sandeep Dwivedi

Posted: Sep 17, 2011 at 0337 hrs IST
      

Cardiff: When he returns home on Sunday, Varun Aaron wouldnít have many stories to narrate regarding his first-ever tour with an Indian side. At least not when it comes to the on-field ones. Even though it was an inconsequential game at Cardiff and Praveen Kumarís sprained ankle didnít recover in time to take the field on Friday morning, India preferred to recall R Vinay Kumar into the playing XI over giving Aaron his ODI debut. With MS Dhoni choosing to trust the pacer who was dropped in the last game after a string of poor performances, Aaron became the only squad member to finish the tour without having made his international debut.

The only time the 21-year old Aaron has stepped onto an English ground to play a game of cricket on this tour was during the practice game against Leicestershire. But so ordinary was his launch that, like most others on the ground that day, Dhoni was not impressed by what he saw. In the three overs that he bowled, Aaron was smashed for 34 runs. Although he did seem to have the pace that everyone back home was talking about, lack of movement in the air or off the wicket meant that the county batsmen faced no problems in putting him away. Besides, the youngsterís action was so classical for a tearaway that there wasnít even an element of surprise before the ball was bowled.

Suddenly, the boy who had made headlines by bowling the fastest ball ever recorded on Indian soil was a non-story. He wasnít quite clocking 153 kmph like he did in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final against Gujarat, but he was quick. But on a dead track at Grace Road, Aaron was cannon fodder against a hard-hitting bunch of batsmen who had won the national T20 title the previous day. And all they did was to position themselves in line with the ball and take a mighty swing at it.

Similar bloke

Aaron, though, can take heart from the fact that Ishant Sharma too had a very similar entry into the Indian team. And just like Aaron, Ishant also travelled to England in 2007, only to return home without being given a game. But in the company of national coaches, even if on the sidelines, Ishant had learnt several life-changing lessons. Like Ishant, Aaron hasnít been wasting his time either.

At net sessions over this leg of the tour, Aaron has constantly picked the brains of bowling coach Eric Simons, someone he knows from his stint with the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL. Hailing from Jharkhand ó or more famously, from skipper Dhoniís state ó Aaron rarely gets a chance to interact with top international coaches. So here in England, he has soaked in as much as he possibly can. Unfortunately, the lessons were restricted to the nets and there were no on-field experiences.

Interestingly, across the fence and on the English side of matters, Steven Finn played his second game of the series thanks to a resting James Anderson. Just a year older than Aaron, Finn looks every bit a finished product. Having made his debut just a year ago, Finn has mainly been drafted into the side as a frontline replacement, and has somehow managed to perform beyond expectations.

He made vital contributions (14 wickets in three Tests) during Englandís famous Ashes victory Down Under, and delivered once again after being picked for the fourth ODI against India at Lordís.

The system in England has helped Finn learn the secrets of the trade early and make a splash on the international stage. Aaron, and the Indian system, will have to wait a little bit longer.

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