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  Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 17:42 GMT
Learning from a master
Harbhajan Singh: India's new spin sensation
Harbhajan Singh dismisses Ricky Ponting in Chennai
Harbhajan Singh's success is, in part, due to the work of a former England spinner. BBC Sport Online talks to Fred Titmus.

Imagine the scene about two years ago as a teenage Indian spin bowler reported to the indoor training school at Lord's.

It must have been a daunting prospect for Harbhajan Singh, who was asked to undergo remedial coaching after doubts were expressed about the legality of his action.

There to meet him at the home of cricket was former England spinner Fred Titmus.

And it was to prove a meeting which set Singh on the way to what looks like becoming a highly successful Test career.


It's not a surprise to me that he's done well because he was quite a good bowler - there's no question about that
Fred Titmus

The doubts are gone and he has emerged as a national hero after taking 32 wickets in three Tests against the supposedly invincible Australians. In the final Test he finished with match figures of 15 for 217 after a career best eight for 84 in the second innings. Only Narendra Hirwani, with 16 for 136, has bettered that in India's Test history.

It is an astonishing display by a 20-year-old, who has had to carry the responsibility of leading India's spin attack in the absence of Anil Kumble following shoulder surgery.

Titmus recalls that Singh's action looked "a littlle bit suspicious", but the solution was fairly simple.

"All we did was shorten his run-up a little bit," he said.

"Most of these people when they do bowl like that, they've got a bit of a run-up, they get very square on, lean away to the off side and get a little kink in their arm, which apparently gives them a little bit of extra help."

Fred Titmus
Titmus is respected around the world

Titmus believes the number of bowlers being identified as having suspect actions has gone up because of improved TV coverage, involving close ups and cameras at a variety of angles.

"They can pick this sort of thing up by going frame by frame, and I think if you go back into cricket history, you'll find a lot of people who wouldn't have been allowed to bowl if we'd had that sort of set-up."

His own Test career, in which he took 153 wickets in 53 matches between 1955 and 1975, coincided with a golden era for Indian spin bowlers.

During that period, he found himself in opposition to Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan.

Harbhajan Singh bowling against Australia
Singh has a long career ahead of him

Singh is now the heir apparent to that cricket lineage and Titmus is happy one of his former pupils is making a name for himself.

"It really doesn't take long to sort it out if they've got intelligence, as players at that level would have," he added.

"But what happens is that quite often is they go back and start to press a bit, and that's when it comes back. It's normally because they've got too long a run-up and get in funny positions and nobody stops them."

It looks like Singh has learnt his lessons well.

All the reports from the Test match

SPORTSTALK

Day Five

Day Four

Day Three

Day Two

Day One

Where and when

TEST STATS
See also:

21 Mar 01 | India v Australia
19 Mar 01 | Cricket
16 Mar 01 | India v Australia
16 Mar 01 | India v Australia
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