'I'm working toward being the finished article'

Cricket

'I'm working toward being the finished article'

Off-spinner Akim Fraser targets longer version to continue turning heads in regional 4-day cricket

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 18, 2020

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WHILE most young players clamour for the chance to play Twenty20 (T20) cricket with hope of making it into the cash-rich franchise leagues around the world, Jamaican spinner Akim Fraser says he wants to base his development around the longer version.

From there Fraser believes he will be better placed to transition into T20 cricket.

“That's an area I want to branch out in eventually, but my strengths are [built] around the four-day game and even the 50-over game,” the off-break bowler told the Jamaica Observer during a recent telephone interview.

“If the opportunity arises [to play in the Caribbean Premier League T20] I would love it, but for now I'm working toward being the finished article [in the longer formats],” the 25-year-old player explained.

After delivering eye-catching performances in regional four-day cricket in early 2019, Fraser, who generally gets appreciable bounce and turn from his off-spinning deliveries, sustained a torn tendon in his right shoulder last August that sidelined him for months.

He missed the 2019-20 season, and just when he was getting into the groove for Kingston Cricket Club (KCC) in local club cricket, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus halted that tournament.

Noting the obvious disappointment, he underscored the value of introspection during the months without competition.

“Just returning to cricket and then being forced to stop because of the pandemic has been frustrating for me,” Fraser said.

“I debuted in February 2019, and in a year and three months or so a lot has happened. I think the injury and the time off from the sport have given me time to reflect on everything that has taken place.

“A lot of people don't get to reflect on their careers or stuff that they've achieved and areas they want to improve upon, or just to make an assessment, until they retire.

“It's something that has happened early in my career. But taking a positive from it, it has allowed me to identify areas that I can definitely improve upon,” he added.

Fraser stressed that international experience for West Indies A against the touring Indians last summer has proven priceless.

“I was a part of the A team [set-up] for a game [versus India A]. I also played against the [India] Test team [in a practice match]. I think it was good for me, being exposed to that sort of thing so early in my career, so it has really opened my eyes and shown me areas I need to improve upon and also [provided] motivation to work harder and to develop. Now, it's about taking things a day at a time, not taking things for granted, and working hard,” the spin bowler said.

Forced to follow physical distancing rules, which effectively precludes team training, he told the Observer that he is accustomed to training alone.

He said spot bowling — to improve his accuracy — using portable training nets at a community field, and lots of running and strength conditioning have been the major focus areas.

“With bowling being my primary skill I want to grow from strength to strength there, and develop and probably be a bit more consistent. I think the [delivery] length [is the main weakness] because I spin the ball significantly, so I get away with [wayward] lines sometimes. But with the length I want to bring the batsmen forward a lot more,” he explained.

He added that he has also been doing extensive work on his batting, with aims of contributing more effectively in the lower order.

Fraser had emerged at the back-end of the 2018-19 regional cricket season after proving a handful on Jamaica's local club scene.

On his first-class debut against Guyana Jaguars, he grabbed match figures of 8-134 to help Jamaica Scorpions to victory at Sabina Park.

Later in 2019, regional selectors gave Fraser an opportunity for hosts West Indies A against their Indian counterparts in an unofficial Test. He captured 3-53 and 1-104.

Over a week after that, he featured in a warm-up game against the touring India senior team, claiming 1-63 and 2-43.

After suffering the shoulder injury late in the summer, and faced with a protracted recovery, Fraser returned to take 13 wickets in three matches in the local Senior Cup while adhering to strict workload guidelines.

“It was good to be back on the field more than anything. I had to be patient; I was given a workload management sort of thing from [the Scorpions] Coach [Andre] Coley in terms of the number of overs I was supposed to bowl.

“Because of the nature of the injury — it was more serious than we thought initially — we didn't want me to come back and overexert myself and probably [aggravate] it and cause more problems.

“The more I played, the better it felt, along with the physiotherapy and stuff, so it feels really good. I'd say I'm in good condition now,” the cricketer told the Observer.


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