Sunday, March 6, 2011

The curious case of the Indian fast bowler

I read a piece on Varun Aaron in the Indian Express.
It's always been the case of the Indian fast bowler. We haven't had a long-lasting one since Srinath retired.
Zaheer was fast when he began, but he relies more on experience and guile nowadays. Sreesanth is fast, but he's got an attitude problem and cannot control the direction of the ball when he bowls. This is despite the fact that he has the best seam position in the business.
Irfan was fast, but Gregg Chappell told him to cut out on pace. He's not playing for India anymore
Munaf was hailed as the next big thing, but fitness issues made him a reliable medium pacer who is an excellent first change bowler.
Nehra is quick on his day, but he needs to be 100 per cent fit when he bowls.
There were also names like RP Singh, VRV Singh and some names that came and went, which I cannot remember.
So we have fast bowlers. Varun Aaron is one of them, but will he last? Will he be the next Srinath? Will he not breakdown and go before his career begins? This is a question not just for him, but for the entire crop of Indian kids who want to bowl fast.
Two years ago, Youtube had this video of this kid called Atul Sharma. Atul was, and this is assumption here, a rich kid, who wanted to do whatever it took to bowl fast. So there was a video of him working out and having a Shaoaib Akhtar-like action. He was supposed to play for The Rajasthan Royals, but he's disappeared like several other kids.
Srinath has been India's only genuine
fast bowler in the last two decades
In the subcontinent, India is one country that hasn't produced a fast bowler who has lasted a while. Sri Lanka has Lasith Malinga, the new kid Thisara Perera and people like Dilhara Fernando as backup. Pakistan keeps on producing fast bowlers like India produces batsmen, while Bangladesh rely more on spin that the fast men. Unfortunately for India, Harbhajan Singh is the only guy who is amongst the best in the world. The others are treated as part time bowlers. Also, it's cooler being a fast bowler. India can no longer ask someone to bowl two overs of seam and then call the spinner. Kapil Dev broke that trend in the late 70s, but he was an one-man army. Kapil created the trend for several people dreaming of bowling fast and Srinath was one guy who managed to be consistently fast throughout his career.
Srinath, started off as a vegetarian, but began eating meat to give himself more physical strength. Today fitness is a key in any sport, but the Indians keep breaking down. Zaheer has had several injuries, Nehra and Munaf are either in or out because of some strain, Irfan and RP are looking to make a comeback, while Sreesanth needs to focus on self-discipline.
Diet and fitness have been an integral part of a fast bowler. India keeps breaking stories about the next big thing, but they tragically die before they are born. Plus going by the wickets this World Cup has produced, would it be fair on the fast bowlers if they're going to be hit all across the ground? There is only so much they can do and if the administration doesn't get its act together in providing sportier wickets, people like Varun Aaron will fade away just as quickly as they came into the news. 


  1. Diet change seems like the most likely solution but we must consider expatriates in UK... Import them and we might find gems like Tahir or perhaps, a fast bowler!

  2. Fair point, but expats will play for their adopted land. In England's case, they'd also consider taking South African nationals like KP and Trott