Saturday, April 9, 2011

Give the bowlers a county stint

Bowling in the subcontinent can be a pain, especially if you're trying to make your mark. You achieve success only after a lot of initial struggle and sometimes that success comes towards the end of your career.
Kapil Dev, Srinath and Zaheer Khan have been India's best bowlers on the subcontinent, with both the new and the old ball. Chaminda Vaas has been the same for Sri Lanka.
I do not include Pakistan in this because they keep producing genuinely quick bowlers - guys who can clock 95 mph on a regular basis. Sri Lanka has Lasith Malinga, which is why I don't include him alongside Chaminda Vaas either.
India didn't have the best bowling attack in the World Cup. All of us admitted that time and time again. Yet, Dhoni used his limited resources pretty well and they clicked when it mattered the most.
Currently, the IPL is going on. The money is good. And the game suddenly looks glamourous. However, while a T20 game does a lot for a bowler to improve his variation (we've seen slow/medium and fast bouncers this World Cup), there is something missing.
County cricket changed Zaheer Khan's
career for the better
There are a lot of kids in India who dream of bowling fast for their country. They make their debut in an overseas tour, are hailed as the next big thing and suddenly fizzle out. Over the years, we've seen names like Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, VRV Singh and more recently Ishant Sharma be victims to that. All of them have bowled at 140 plus for a while, but fizzled out. Today, people still laugh at Munaf and wonder what RP Singh, Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma are doing. Sadly, not too many people remember that VRV played a couple of matches for India.
Most of these guys lose confidence and wonder where their career is headed. Srinath and Zaheer were lucky that way. While they played cricket throughout the year, there was time to take a break. There was no T20 craze when Srinath played and Zaheer has played T20 only in the later part of the second half of his career.
What helped Srinath and Zaheer out was a stint with an English county or Australia Shield Cricket. The kind of exposure India's fast bowlers would get from a platform like that would be incredible. They would learn from the greats, they would interact more with international players (county seasons are long) and they would come back as much improved bowlers. Look at Zaheer. Zak I was this raw bowler who liked bowling yorkers. He played some county cricket, learnt a lot and came back to be one of - if not the best Indian fast bowler ever.
Guys like RP Singh, Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma need this kind of exposure. Otherwise we'll just have kids coming and going and disappearing - the rut of the emerging Indian player. 

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