Of Indian cricket and pace bowling

Blog by: Shashank

India’s pace bowling department has been led by Zaheer Khan over the last decade (Getty Images)

Indian cricket has maintained its supremacy in recent times, but has always been outplayed when it comes to playing  pace bowling. We have had many bowlers who have clocked 140+ kmph in the early stages of their career, but have lost their sheen later. When it comes to pace bowling and India , the names which come to our mind are Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan. All the others have either been plagued by injuries or have not been able to replicate the promise they had shown earlier.

What is the reason that a country of 1.2 billion people has not been able to produce a bowler who can clock 145+ consistently? Reasons are many, pitches are to blamed, plus the mentality. The quality of domestic cricket in India is very low when compared to Australia and England, not because the players lack talent but because they are offered a flat, lucid track to play on. Scoring runs is pretty easy on these tracks where even someone like Ravindra Jadeja is also able to score a couple of triple tons.

India boasts of having a world class pace bowling clinic in Chennai- the MRF pace foundation. But, we are still searching for bowlers who can deliver consistently. The MRF pace foundation has produced many world class fast bowlers, namely Chaminda Vaas, Brett Lee, Glenn Mcgrath, Mitchell Johnson etc.  The question which arises is that why does the pace drop so soon? Munaf Patel was a guy who was known for his express pace in domestic cricket. That is history and now we all know what Munaf Patel has transformed into.

The mantra for pace bowlers has been ‘survival’ and to achieve that they either drop their pace to prolong their careers or change their action to keep themselves injury free. It is true that India plays more cricket compared to its counterparts. The human body will certainly not stand up to the amount of cricket being played.

But rotation policy hasn’t been effectively implemented in India.  Line and length is an important aspect of fast bowling and to master that the bowlers go on to the extent of sacrificing their pace. Pace bowling has always been ignored. Whenever any foreign tour is due, we always ponder on how our batsmen will deliver. We never ever bother that matches can’t be won if 20 wickets of the opposition are not claimed.

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron have been the guys who till now, by God’s grace, haven’t given up. They have been consistently clocking 145+ kmph. Yes, Varun’s career has been marred by injuries, but this Jharkhand hunk still hasn’t cut down his pace. It’s a good sign for Indian cricket. The need of the hour is that the BCCI provides quality pitches for domestic Ranji trophy matches so that the bar is raised.

Emphasis has to be laid on pace bowling. The bowlers have to be taken care of and handled well. Rotation policy will make this possible. Dale Steyn never had a good line and length when he made his debut for South Africa. He worked on that, but never gave up on his strength. We all know what Dale Steyn is today. The same can be said of James Anderson. If Indian cricket has to leave its mark overseas, the only mantra for success will be pace and swing bowling.

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