An open letter to Mohammed Shami
First of all, congratulations on your first full season, and a great one at that, in Indian colours. In the last few tours, you have enthralled us all with pace and swing alike. You have shown big promise, and you certainly have the potential to fill the one void that Indian cricket has in an otherwise complete set-up: that of a genuine fast bowler.
India has never had a plenitude of bowlers who can clock speeds of 140 kilometres per hour constantly and swing the ball at that pace, not since the days of Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath anyway. In you, we now have one who can do just that.
Albeit briefly up until now, you have shown us that you have it in you to mature into a genuine fast bowler. You can clock 140+ kilometres per hour on a regular basis and swing the new ball as well as reverse the old one. There is nothing as potent and dynamic as swing coupled with pace. Do not let go any of these traits, and we will have a world class fast bowler, one that we’ve been waiting for.
That brilliant opening spell in an ODI against the Aussies at Ranchi, your fifer on Test debut that broke the backbone of the Windies’ line-up and a few great spells against the Proteas and the Blackcaps have led us to believe that, potentially, we now have a bowler who can challenge the best in the world.
All we ask is for you not to fail us.
In the last decade or so, we have been searching for someone who can lead the bowling attack, someone who can be called “the spearhead of the pace attack” in the right sense of the phrase. Alas, all in vain.
Yes, a few people came along who showed promise for a brief period of time but could not live up to it in the long run. We pinned our hopes on Irfan Pathan before he faded away into oblivion. We believed in Lakshmipathy Balaji before he was plagued with injuries. Ishant Sharma got Ricky Ponting and a few more batsmen to dance to his tunes before he lost his rhythm and pace.
How so many Indian bowlers have gone from lethal to innocuous in the space of a few years is an enigma. Maybe they cut down on pace to gain accuracy or to try and prolong their careers by avoiding injuries. Maybe someone has advised them to do so. Do not let these thoughts creep into your head, and, if someone gives you such advice, please turn a deaf ear to them, for god’s sake.
Hope can be a treacherous thing. Our hope for a fast bowler who won’t just be fiery for a few years and then fizzle out, but one who will sustain his lethality throughout his career, has certainly been treacherous.
Us fans, we’ve done our share of waiting and hoping, Shami. But all we can still do is hope against all hope that you will be able to put an end to it. Let our hope not betray us this time.
- An ardent and hopeful fan.