That Varun Aaron can bowl quick has never been in doubt. Ask England paceman Stuart Broad, who took a blow to the nose from an Aaron delivery in 2014 and whose confidence has never been the same again.
The paceman from Singhbhum, Jharkhand was part of the pace bowling revolution that began around 2011-12 in India. Alongside Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah, Aaron is one of the bowlers who can clock over 145kph on a regular basis.
But poor luck with injuries have pegged Aaron down the pecking order in the last couple of years. After missing out on an IPL contract in 2018, Aaron opted for a stint with Leicestershire in County cricket and has come back into domestic cricket with renewed vigour.
A haul of 25 wickets in the Ranji Trophy pushed his return to India A colours which came close on the heels of an IPL-12 contract with Rajasthan Royals worth Rs 2.4 crore earlier this year.
“It was great to be back in the set up after a long time. Rahul (Dravid) bhai has always been really helpful. More than anything it was good to be rewarded at the back-end of a good season. It makes it easier for me to make a comeback into the national team,” Aaron told CricketNext ahead of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 super league matches which get underway in Indore on Friday.
Aaron has carried on that form for Jharkhand in the domestic T20 tournament, spearheading their charge into the Super League, after topping Group A which also featured the likes of Delhi.
“This season has been really good for me so far. Syed Mushtaq Ali has been a mixed bag. I was among the wickets in a few matches, so overall very satisfied with my progress. I guess I am allowed to have a few bad games but I feel I am bowling really well and looking forward to the games ahead,” the 29-year-old speedster said.
After being a regular fixture in the IPL, Aaron was disappointed in missing out on a contract in 2018 but it gave him the opportunity to fine tune his bowling in England, far away from the hustle and bustle of the manic T20 format.
“My fitness has always been very good. Going and playing in England gave me time to focus on game after missing out on IPL. It gave me time to reflect on my own game and where I need to improve. It was good to work on the mental aspect as well,” Aaron, who posted career-best figures of 6/32 against Haryana in Ranji Trophy this year, said.
The Jharkhand paceman credits the team’s support staff for improvement in his performances. “We’ve had great support staff, our bowling coach (former Jharkhand paceman SS Rao) has done a great job with all the bowlers. It’s not that one bowler who has done the job, we have clicked as a bowling unit and all credit for that goes to SS Rao,” he said.
Pace bowling takes a heavy toll on the body and it’s same for Aaron as well. Injuries to his back, legs and quadriceps have halted his progress at different times.(Image: AFP)
Asked how he keeps his fitness levels up, Aaron said, “More often than not I am playing with Jharkhand or India A and get very little time at home. When I do get time, I spend it with Sudarshan, who was the Indian team trainer before working on different body parts.”
Finally on his preparation for IPL-12, Aaron said, “Apart from working on slower balls and yorkers, the key is going to be executing the plans well. We might know all the variations but if we can’t execute it’s no use. That’s going to be my main aim this year in IPL.”