Indian Fast Bowlers-A Distant Dream?
The Barbados wicket had lot to offer for the pace bowlers and yet except Ishant Sharma ,all INDIAN pacers looked ineffective-Neither there was pace nor there was the intent.Praveen Kumar was getting the new ball to swing menacingly but once the red cherry lost its shine,it seemed as if Praveen was bowling at nets-Life was all too easy for the WI batsmen and i wonder ,if at all the carribean lads had some experience in the middle order,they could have easily run away with this game.This test match again brought into limelight the age old problem of team INDIA-”The scarcity of genuine PACE bowlers”.
Zaheer Khan,Sreesanth who along with Ishant Sharma would have been the first choice seamers had to miss out on this tour because of their respective injuries.The fact that the likes of Praveen Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun looked toothless on the same pitch where Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul were making the INDIAN batsmen hop around like a cat on a hot tin roof indeed raises a lot of concerns for the INDIAN team management.It won’t be an exaggeration if i claim that the medium pace of Darren Sammy was also creating problems for our batsmen-Amidst all this chaos,the real question that pops up in my mind is “Why doesn’t INDIA have a genuine fast bowler?”Will we ever see a bowler bowling at the pace of Dale Steyn and showing the same agility and athleticism as Brett Lee? As of now ,it looks like a distant dream.The last 4-5 years ,these medium pace bowlers have played for INDIA: Irfan,Sreesanth,Zaheer Khan,Praveen Kumar,Ishant Sharma,Ashish Nehra,Sudeep Tyagi,Ashok Dinda,RP Singh,VRV Singh.The irony of the situation is that inspite of being the NUMERO UNO in tests,INDIA seem to be lagging behind when it comes to having bowlers who can take 20 wickets-especially pacers.Bowlers like Pathan,Zaheer,Munaf Patel all bowled at speeds of 140+ and that with utmost ease and consistency but as time passed by and the no of matches increased by leaps and bounds,these bowlers not only drastically reduced their pace but also shortened their run-ups.Irfan Pathan ,who back in 2004-05 was being tipped as INDIA’s premiere fast bowling option is today not even in the reckoning for a spot in the playing 11,Munaf patel who started off as a genuine quickie is now more or less a medium pace bowler.The only man who has survived all these years is Zaheer Khan-a bowler who with his magical variation in pace has managed to trouble batsmen more often than not.But ,its a harsh reality that fingers are always pointed at India’s weak pace attack.So what is the main reason behind this age old weakness of our team?
The answer to this seems to be pretty simple and straightforward.Through a combination of injuries, player burn out, lack of fitness, players trying to contain themselves to prolong their career which has invariably affected how they performed and more importantly has forced them to drastically drop down their pace.Lets take a leaf out of the past and try and name a few bowlers who have left their marks in important tours-RP Singh was spectacular in England 2007, Sreesanth in South Africa,Ishant in Australia 2008 while Munaf Patel has come up with some flashes in the pan and Ashish Nehra has made an arduous come back in the national team after a streak of injuries.But these bowlers hardly look a distant shadow of their past.Praveen Kumar is good but once the bowl stops swinging,he can well be replaced by a bowling machine!
So whats the way to go for BCCI? Perhaps INDIA needs to go the Aussie way.They must identify bowlers who genuinely bowl quick and must think about grooming them as t20 and ODI specialists.
As the legendary West Indies pacer,Sir Michael Holding has said:
Too much cricket not only takes a toll on the fast bowlers but also leads to lots of variation in their techniques which finally results in loss of their genuine skills.Less no of matches will not only help them stay fit but will also contribute in elongating their career.It will also ensure that more and more quickies are introduced to international cricket which will surely benefit the team in times to come.The BCCI also need to come up with proper rehab routines,fitness regimes for the faster bowlers so as to attend to their injuries as soon as possible.In a nutshell,we need to nurture those brave hearts who take up the profession of pace bowling-Rushing them into all 3 formats of the game as soon as they make their debuts is not a solution.Give them time,give them proper guidance.INDIA has never had an array of fast bowlers so,the most important thing is whenever bowlers dare to bowl at such great pace ,we must “Handle them with care”.