Pakistan: No more the land of the genuine fast bowler

The land that produced perhaps the greatest ever quick, Shoaib Akhtar, is now struggling for them
The land that produced perhaps the greatest ever quick, Shoaib Akhtar, is now struggling for them
Shahadat Awan

Pakistan cricket and fast bowling have had a long time relationship. Ever since that wonderful spell by the great Imran Khan against Australia in Sydney Pakistan has proved it's mettle in the field of pace bowling. The country witnessed an overflow of quicks, and players like Mohammad Akram had to miss out because the side already had the great combination of the two Ws (Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis) in the attack, supported by the enthusiasm of Shoaib Akhtar whose pace and accuracy terrified the best in the business.

A lot of bowlers burst onto the circuit and disappeared during that era, and many skillful ones rotted in the domestic circuit because of the competition that existed, but now it seems that there is some level of dearth in Pakistan as far as fast bowling is concerned.

Most seamers in the current setup bowl around 130-140 kph(on average) and some of them are even below 130 Kph.

A country that produced the fastest bowler in the history of the game can't even find a single genuine one these days.

It must be quite surprising but Wahab Riaz(at the age of 32) and Mohammad Sami(aged 36) are the quickest bowlers in the domestic circuit right now. Both of them are in the twilight of their careers but are still better than the young speed stars who have not come to the fore yet.

Generally youngsters are hyped to be genuinely quick but this hype dies very quickly when they come to the international circuit.

Such a significant decline in quality is because of many problems that the country's cricket is facing these days.To start with, the pitches are very sub-standard and hardly promote genuinely quick bowling anymore. It has to be said that youngsters with the ability to bowl quick haven't been managed properly as well.

For instance, Mohammad Talha was pretty fast when he first appeared on the scene but his body was not managed properly along with his diet so as the years passed by, he became injury-prone and his speed dropped as well. Now we have seen in the last decade or so that Australia implemented a rotation policy to let their young quicks stay fit.

Teams like New Zealand(Adam Milne, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson) and South Africa(Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi) have also managed their quicks pretty well.

Even a side like the West Indies that has been struggling in the last 2 decades has 3-4 genuinely quick bowlers. Some seamers in the current Pakistani lineup have got the potential to bowl a bit quicker but the workload hasn't been managed properly. Mohammad Amir has bowled 850+ overs in International cricket after his comeback and Champions Trophy hero Hasan Ali has been rested rarely in the last year or so.

To make things worse, these players have to also endure the scorching heat of UAE where Pakistan play their home games.

In an era where South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Windies have many genuinely quick options Pakistan have none. While most Pakistani bowlers struggle to get it over 135 Kph, in a limited over game in New Zealand 7200 miles away Jasprit Bumrah is clocking 148 on a rather slowish surface, and that too in a Test match.

It is now evident that to produce genuinely quick bowlers PCB needs to learn from the mistakes made in the past.

Only time will tell whether this will happen, but the introduction of Pakistan Super League has been a breath of fresh air. Youngsters with the potential to bowl quick like Ghulam Mudassar, Salman Irshad and Shaheen Shah Afridi are associated with the franchises.

Some of them have even got development contracts with franchises like Dhaka Gladiators and Lahore Qalandars. Here's hoping these youngsters are developed properly and are able to bring back the very element that was once the heart of Pakistan Cricket.

Edited by Anuradha Santhanam


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