June 15, 2011

Munaf, a product of Indian conditions

Slow, low playing conditions may force India's bowlers to sacrifice pace, but they also make them smarter, says Aakash Chopra
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"When Munaf Patel came here in 2006, he had some pace, now he is spinning the ball!" Those words from the legendary Andy Roberts are discouraging, but not surprising. Munaf may have lost pace since his international debut, but to say that he may now just be spinning the ball is exaggeration. What concerns me though is a bigger question: what is it that coerced Munaf to denounce speed and become an understated version of the ferocious fast bowler, that too when he was touted to be India's answer to Lee and Akhtar?

I saw the first of Munaf when John Wright called him for a nets-session during an India camp in Bangalore, in 2003. At the time Munaf hadn't played first-class cricket. Yet, his considerable pace had not only prompted a call-up from the MRF Pace Foundation, where he'd impressed everyone, but had also caught the eye of one of the national selectors who in turn informed Wright about his extraordinary potential.

Munaf ran in hard and bowled with pace. Even though he lacked some direction at the time, he managed to make an impact. This fast-tracked his promotion, for India couldn't afford losing a genuinely quick bowler to the rigours of domestic cricket. He made his first-class debut for India A against New Zealand in Rajkot. Once again he bowled with pace, took a few wickets, but a lack consistency proved to his bane. Everything was happening at break-neck speed for Munaf - from bowling bare-foot on the fields of Gujarat, to rubbing shoulders with the best cricketers in the country and being hyped as the next big thing in Indian cricket.

Just when you least expected it, though, the inevitable happened. Munaf's body hadn't been prepared for such hard toil and gave in. A spate of injuries pegged him back and stalled his progress. He was sent back to domestic cricket to take a bagful of wickets and, more importantly, prove his fitness to earn a place in the national team.

He did just that and was rewarded with a Test cap in 2006. I was in Mohali when he got those crucial three wickets on Test debut against England. By this time he had earned the reputation of being India's fastest bowler and he wasn't disappointing. He continued in the same vein for a while, before something mysteriously took away his pace. He'd not only dumped what had been his novelty, but also lacked control. He was taken for runs and also picked up a couple of niggles along the way. Consequently, he was dropped from the Indian team.

The demands of playing on dead and docile pitches made him reassess his plans for the future. He could have continued to bowl fast if he wanted to, however it wasn't about pace anymore but about playing for India for a long duration. It was around this time that he started sacrificing pace for control. When the team management could have made him think otherwise - assign him the role of bowling fast, be aggressive - he was left to his own devices. If only someone could have put an arm around him and told him to persist with his skill and not succumb to pressures, Munaf would've still been a fast bowler, perhaps one of his kind.

If you expect a player to put the team's interest ahead of his own, you must instill the necessary faith in him. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen often. So, when a player has to fend for himself, you can't blame him for being a bit selfish. Instead of working overtime to bowl quick, Munaf spent more time getting his lines and lengths right. Since he doesn't swing the ball much, he worked on cutters to go along with immaculate line and length.

By the time he edged his way back into the Indian team, he had transformed into a different bowler. He was no longer the firebrand fast bowler who would make the batsmen jump, but one who maintained a tight leash with his control and array of cutters. Would you blame him for sacrificing his pace to secure his position in the national side? It would be unfair if you did.

Fast bowling is a gruelling job in slow Indian conditions. How do you keep yourself motivated when the ball bounces twice before reaching the wicketkeeper? And when regardless of how fast you bowl, the batsman always has enough time to get behind the ball, since it loses its zing the moment it touches the surface? These conditions may have taken pace away from our medium-pace bowlers, but they have definitely made them smarter.

It isn't easy to drop pace and still be effective. Can you imagine Malinga or Lee still performing their magic if they bowled in the mid-120s? But Zaheer Khan and co do it with ease time and again, and in most conditions. If we want the likes of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav (people who can still clock 140 kph+) to not go the Munaf way, we must do enough to nurture these assets. Andy Roberts may have observed a thing or two about Munaf, but his comments reflect the stories of many Indian fast bowlers.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rahulbose on June 17, 2011, 19:17 GMT

    I remember watching the NZL tour game on tele, Munaf took the wicket of Steven Fleming on debut. But just like all other Indian "fast" bowlers he soon broke down and lost pace. All excuses aside it should now be an accepted fact that Indians can't bowl fast. They should model themselves on Kapil Dev or Zaheer Khan, both of them use great control on line and length with some swing to get wickets. And end of the day wickets are what counts, the days of fast bowlers intimidating batsmen are long gone.

  • on June 17, 2011, 10:57 GMT

    Well...People come up with examples of McGrath, Walsh and Akram. Guys...in their early days they werw bowling 145 + and they might ahve slowed down to mid 130s towards the end of their career. We are talking about Waz, Walsh and Mcgrath bowling in the mid 130s at 30 + Ages. But here we are discussing about Indian Bowlers in the Mid 20s bowling at 120s and that is a dangerous sign. For that matter, even Pllock was ineffective to the latter stages of hsi career when he was bowling in 120s....

    We are talking about the need of the swing bowlers to bowl in the early 130s and the Seam bowlers and Hit the deck bowlers to be bowling in late 130s and 140s for them to be effective. Even Prabakhar has pointed out the need for Praveen Kumar to step up his gas. A clear example of a bowler being ineffective was Shane Bond towards the latter part of his career. he wasn't the old thread one he fell into the 130 speed mode. Decent speed along with quile is the need of the day

  • Praxis on June 17, 2011, 7:33 GMT

    This issue isn't that hard to address. Its not that slow low & flat pitches in India don't help the fast bowlers, if it was true then Pakistan or Sri Lanka couldn't have produced any fast bowlers too. Its the culture, Indians worship their batsmen, where the bowlers are overlooked despite being good many times. I read many comment here on this article that it doesn't matter if Munaf bowls at 70 or 80 mph as long as he gets wickets. But its not, he's not as good as Zaheer in tests, where it matters the most.

  • on June 16, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    Munaf did not make his first class debut in Rajkot against New Zealand,it was in Dharmasala.

  • on June 16, 2011, 17:54 GMT

    well to all guys asking for pace here just answer tis will u enjoy a kemar roach or zaheer khan tait or anderson and johnson or steyn ......ya pace excites but can u name a bowler who's skillfull and sheer pace gone are the days with wasim and waqar the last people i could remeber wit both art at the moment oly steyn excites but he s too worthless in flat tracks and dust bowls the most skill full bowler at the moment would be definitely zakkkk

  • slipfielder on June 16, 2011, 17:49 GMT

    While selecting the team let the selectors then consider Munaf and Zaheer along with the spinners and choose the best spinners for the team and choose a few other quicker bowlers.

  • r1m2 on June 16, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    India has lost several potential express pace bowlers to 'domestication' since Munaf was first heard of, through something a certain Steve Waugh had said. Ishant Sharma, VRV Singh comes to mind. Also I know few other 'Singh's had come and gone, who were 6'4" or taller fast bowlers. The Ishant Sharma that destroyed Ponting in Australia, is only alive in the memory of those who had seen him then. He was averaging 145+ kph, often touching 150+. And the way he was bowling, the speed seemed to naturally flow, i.e. each of his spells were of top pace. Now he's but a mere shadow of his past self, in terms of pace. I think it's not just the slow pitches to blame anymore, but a realization of heavier workload has also dawned on the fast bowlers. The faster you bowl, the quicker you retire, that's a fact. Which bowler in their right mind would want to have a career like Bond or Akhtar. They'd much rather be like McGrath. Bowl in 120s-130s, but be accurate, don't do anything crazy. kw: Longevity.

  • on June 16, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    Too much cricket for these players, specially fast bowlers. it's wearing them out. Not just Munaf but all fast bowlers across the globe.

  • Praxis on June 16, 2011, 16:38 GMT

    @Bharat_Ajax, "Who is Andy Roberts??", Seriously?!

  • anikbrad on June 16, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    whay all are saying mcgra, pollock, akram were sucful when they redused speed. yes from 150 they reduced to 140+not 120 and then may be to 130 AFTER TAKING 300 WKT AND PLAYING 70 TESTS AND 10 YRS. they were still fast at 30+ age not 25. Bharat_Ajax tells - does anyone knows roberts, yes any body who knows cricket or has seen it not IPL knows him and ask the cricketers they will say he is a far better bowler than kapil and has better recort,- avg, sr wkts/match. and somme told munaf and praveen is extreemly sucessful. is it we are not talking ODI they never paly test. thats why idia still plays sreesanth, ishant, zaheer not them. for bowling in test or getting bastmen out needs pace of 140+ atleast. and if swing swing it at 140+. if you ever think india ever has good fast bowlers look at sr rate or wkt/match even kapil avg is 29+, zahir 30, no one is below 25. and for some irfan in 2005 -06 was never good hewas good in 2003-04 in aus he was bowling at 140+.

  • Rahulbose on June 17, 2011, 19:17 GMT

    I remember watching the NZL tour game on tele, Munaf took the wicket of Steven Fleming on debut. But just like all other Indian "fast" bowlers he soon broke down and lost pace. All excuses aside it should now be an accepted fact that Indians can't bowl fast. They should model themselves on Kapil Dev or Zaheer Khan, both of them use great control on line and length with some swing to get wickets. And end of the day wickets are what counts, the days of fast bowlers intimidating batsmen are long gone.

  • on June 17, 2011, 10:57 GMT

    Well...People come up with examples of McGrath, Walsh and Akram. Guys...in their early days they werw bowling 145 + and they might ahve slowed down to mid 130s towards the end of their career. We are talking about Waz, Walsh and Mcgrath bowling in the mid 130s at 30 + Ages. But here we are discussing about Indian Bowlers in the Mid 20s bowling at 120s and that is a dangerous sign. For that matter, even Pllock was ineffective to the latter stages of hsi career when he was bowling in 120s....

    We are talking about the need of the swing bowlers to bowl in the early 130s and the Seam bowlers and Hit the deck bowlers to be bowling in late 130s and 140s for them to be effective. Even Prabakhar has pointed out the need for Praveen Kumar to step up his gas. A clear example of a bowler being ineffective was Shane Bond towards the latter part of his career. he wasn't the old thread one he fell into the 130 speed mode. Decent speed along with quile is the need of the day

  • Praxis on June 17, 2011, 7:33 GMT

    This issue isn't that hard to address. Its not that slow low & flat pitches in India don't help the fast bowlers, if it was true then Pakistan or Sri Lanka couldn't have produced any fast bowlers too. Its the culture, Indians worship their batsmen, where the bowlers are overlooked despite being good many times. I read many comment here on this article that it doesn't matter if Munaf bowls at 70 or 80 mph as long as he gets wickets. But its not, he's not as good as Zaheer in tests, where it matters the most.

  • on June 16, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    Munaf did not make his first class debut in Rajkot against New Zealand,it was in Dharmasala.

  • on June 16, 2011, 17:54 GMT

    well to all guys asking for pace here just answer tis will u enjoy a kemar roach or zaheer khan tait or anderson and johnson or steyn ......ya pace excites but can u name a bowler who's skillfull and sheer pace gone are the days with wasim and waqar the last people i could remeber wit both art at the moment oly steyn excites but he s too worthless in flat tracks and dust bowls the most skill full bowler at the moment would be definitely zakkkk

  • slipfielder on June 16, 2011, 17:49 GMT

    While selecting the team let the selectors then consider Munaf and Zaheer along with the spinners and choose the best spinners for the team and choose a few other quicker bowlers.

  • r1m2 on June 16, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    India has lost several potential express pace bowlers to 'domestication' since Munaf was first heard of, through something a certain Steve Waugh had said. Ishant Sharma, VRV Singh comes to mind. Also I know few other 'Singh's had come and gone, who were 6'4" or taller fast bowlers. The Ishant Sharma that destroyed Ponting in Australia, is only alive in the memory of those who had seen him then. He was averaging 145+ kph, often touching 150+. And the way he was bowling, the speed seemed to naturally flow, i.e. each of his spells were of top pace. Now he's but a mere shadow of his past self, in terms of pace. I think it's not just the slow pitches to blame anymore, but a realization of heavier workload has also dawned on the fast bowlers. The faster you bowl, the quicker you retire, that's a fact. Which bowler in their right mind would want to have a career like Bond or Akhtar. They'd much rather be like McGrath. Bowl in 120s-130s, but be accurate, don't do anything crazy. kw: Longevity.

  • on June 16, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    Too much cricket for these players, specially fast bowlers. it's wearing them out. Not just Munaf but all fast bowlers across the globe.

  • Praxis on June 16, 2011, 16:38 GMT

    @Bharat_Ajax, "Who is Andy Roberts??", Seriously?!

  • anikbrad on June 16, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    whay all are saying mcgra, pollock, akram were sucful when they redused speed. yes from 150 they reduced to 140+not 120 and then may be to 130 AFTER TAKING 300 WKT AND PLAYING 70 TESTS AND 10 YRS. they were still fast at 30+ age not 25. Bharat_Ajax tells - does anyone knows roberts, yes any body who knows cricket or has seen it not IPL knows him and ask the cricketers they will say he is a far better bowler than kapil and has better recort,- avg, sr wkts/match. and somme told munaf and praveen is extreemly sucessful. is it we are not talking ODI they never paly test. thats why idia still plays sreesanth, ishant, zaheer not them. for bowling in test or getting bastmen out needs pace of 140+ atleast. and if swing swing it at 140+. if you ever think india ever has good fast bowlers look at sr rate or wkt/match even kapil avg is 29+, zahir 30, no one is below 25. and for some irfan in 2005 -06 was never good hewas good in 2003-04 in aus he was bowling at 140+.

  • on June 16, 2011, 15:19 GMT

    The last comment which Aakash Chopra made is an eye opener : "Can you imagine Malinga or Lee still performing their magic if they bowled in the mid-120s? But Zaheer Khan and co do it with ease time and again, and in most conditions". Yes,Munaf is doing the job even after cutting down his pace. And look at Malinga . he is quick and accurate.But , he has already given up playing test cricket due to fitness woes. , and how old is he? , just 27. When it comes to fast bowling , fitness is always a concern ,especially if you are a sub- continental bowlers. It's a pity that the Indian pitches have historically been spin friendly.The curators are forced go with a spin friendly track, beacause the HOME TEAM is a spin-heavy team,and you want the much needed HOME ADVANTAGE. We need some fast and bouncy tracks , it will not only help and motivate fast bowlers but also the batsmen to keep up ( and play the short ball) when they go out of India.

  • on June 16, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    All legendary fast bowlers become doubly effective when they got old and dropped pace, runup for accuracy and control. Hadlee, Akram, Pollock and many others have proved it. It is easy to criticize bowlers but it is hard to bowl consistently fast in Indian conditions. Scorching heat, humidity and lack of wind not only makes a fast bowler's life hard, it makes the wicket lose moisture quick and take away the grass. Perhaps India need to consider making two kinds of wickets through out the country, one where batsmen hop and find it hard and one where bowlers need to find control and rhythm.

  • Harshtmm on June 16, 2011, 13:10 GMT

    have people gone crazy. Munaf is doing the right thing. So what if he has cut down on speed. Don't worry about Andy Roberts, what does he know about coaching. He is great bowler, but similar to Greg chappel a poor poor coach. Every body should do what is best for them. People like Andy are the reason why WI is where it is, don't want to adopt want to be stuck in the past. What Munaf is doing is wise, you must adopt to changing times. Munaf the whole India is behind you, don't worry about Andy Roberts.

  • Jarus on June 16, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    The article is just an excuse to defend Indian fast bowlers in general. No matter how slow the pitch is, if you can bowl a fast yorker batsman will struggle be it Australia, England or India.

  • Bharat_Ajax on June 16, 2011, 11:47 GMT

    To all pace bowler fans: Why do you need 150k/hr raw speed if you are getting hit and get tired after bowling 3 over spells??A modern day bowler need to be smart and accurate not just fast.Pace wont pick wickets,those days are gone long back,the modern day batsmen are too good for pace.Yes you can do one thing with pace which is show off for may be 50-100 one day internationals,20-30 tests and then force to take a retirement due to major injury. Best examples : 1. Shaun Tait 2. Mitchel Johnson(not retired but at the same time no sting) 3. Brett Lee 4. Rana Navid ul Hasan (Was a fast bowler when arrived,slowly lost pace,sting and then his place) 5. Mohammed Asif(Best injury porn bowler I have ever seen) 6.Shoaib Akhtar(same as Asif) And the kist goes on..So what do you need pace or wickets?

  • Bharat_Ajax on June 16, 2011, 11:28 GMT

    I totally agree with Chopra.Who is Andy Roberts??Do any one in modern cricket know him. Playing 20 one days and 10 tests in a year, may be with 5 test playing nations on bowler friendly tracks in 80 is very different form the busy and demanding modern cricket. Please name one fast bowler who is consistent and a match winner and at the same time is injury free in the present day world.So guys of 70's and 80's please stop being foolishly sarcastic,because it makes you look like cricket illiterates.

  • vels79 on June 16, 2011, 11:20 GMT

    Pace or Spin, a bowler's job is to take wickets with a good economy rate.. he has taken wickets off-late at a very good average. Let him bowl the way he wants, hitting or terrorizing batsmen should'nt be a priority to any bowler.. He is good enough to be in a world cup winning squad, so good job munaf, keep up the good work.

  • on June 16, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    Very amateurish article .. to write a whole page of stuff to just convey he got injuries so he cut down pace .. and then blame the system for some sensationalism .. have all the bowlers who sustained injuries really cut down pace? Has malinga done it? is he injury free? after having cut down pace is munaf injury free? If any, it is the indian media that should take the blame .. our media hardly provides space for any talent to bud .. while the media is liberal in singing praise of established players, for upcoming talents the media is ready to pounce for every bad match .. Ishant despite pace hasn't found any media backing whenever his aggression resulted in some runs leaked!

  • on June 16, 2011, 10:59 GMT

    Indian bowlers are SWING bowlers.......thats true.....and 130 kmph is enough for a good swing bowler....kapil dev bowled dedly outswing at 130+,irfan was unplayable bowling at 130+ in 2005 and 120+ in 2006,zak and nehra are great swing and reverse swing masters at 130+,only shreeshant and rp were the 140+ swing and reverse bowlers,now at present praveen is best with the new ball at 125-130.......SO remember THIS IS INDIAN CRICKET ANDY...

  • Sukumar_Kantri on June 16, 2011, 10:58 GMT

    Andy Roberts had forgot Glen McGrath,Allan Donald and Walsh who hardly bowled more than 135kmph but was very destructive to the opposition. Munaf is not on par with these 2 biggies but still he is now a consistent bowler for India after Zak. He is taking good number of wickets and as long as he does that, he can spin the ball as mentioned by Roberts. For a bowler being economical and taking wickets matters rather than bowling at 150kmph.

  • on June 16, 2011, 10:17 GMT

    Andy Roberts and his ilk are all about chest beating displays of machismo by bowling as fast as they can, without realizing that the end objective of bowling is not to intimidate batsmen, but to take wickets and prevent runs from being scored....extreme pace is hugely over-rated...swing and control with decent pace are far more effective across varying conditions...one only has to look at the two greatest pace bowlers of all time...the greatest ever right handed pace bowler glenn mcgrath and the greatest ever left handed pace bowler of all time wasim akram..

  • faisalameer on June 16, 2011, 10:01 GMT

    I agree his point. Also, inchury scare also the another factor because he got inchury in many occations.

  • moBlue on June 16, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    i think the solution may be to give genuine fast bowlers - ones who clock over 140 all the time - more of a break so that their body can recover... so, maybe they shouldn't have to play every game? perhaps play every other game when you bowl genuinely quick, and still get paid? for instance, in baseball, i notice that the fastball pitchers work on a rotation system so their bodies have time to heal. IND does not produce many fast bowlers... so when we do get the rare ones, like a munaf or a sreesanth, i think it is stoopid of our selectors to over-bowl them on the domestic dead pitches, kill their self-confidence, and get them injured in the process when they try that much harder because they feel the pressure, and feel their career is on the line! naturally, they go for accuracy which changes their bowling! aakash is very insightful, as usual!

  • chakor16 on June 16, 2011, 8:49 GMT

    Guyz, I heard the latest news from Caribbean.... Andy Roberts have now questioned R Ashwin that why he is bowling inswingers to Right handed batsman. :)

  • on June 16, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    I simply fail to understand why there is so much fuss about bowling fast. The priority should be taking wickets and Munaf has done that. I would be happy with a bowler bowling 120-130 Km/hr and taking 6 wickets in a test match rather than having a bowler who bowls 150+ taking only 2 wickets and getting injured in second innings. Same thing can be said on batting, when dhoni first arrived he was more like a country batsman but now he has transformed himself into more potent and dependable batsman.

  • chakor16 on June 16, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    Okay, Agreed that Munaf is spinning the ball. But the point is that "Are WI capable enough to play and dominate him?". If not then Mr Roberts, you should keep mum and watch WI getting smashed. Zaheer also had pace early, but reduced pace and filled his bag with full of tricks, and see now, where he has not performed. He had Smith looked like a fool in his own backyard, there are so many examples. Mr. Roberts, I think you are well and truly behind this world. Now a days spinners are preferred to open the innings and pacers are perferred to come late. Munaf is India's best pace bowler currently after Zak and PK. HANDLE HIM IF YOU CAN....

  • Elkapitano on June 16, 2011, 8:31 GMT

    What a foolish comment ! Asian conditions are the same, so how come Pakistan and SL can produce fast bowlers under similar conditions ? It's the nature of cricket in India which has affected Munaf, like we pakistani's rarely produce a decent batsmen in ages - India struggles to borne fast bowlers. India's concentration is mainly on batsmen - and bowlers aim NOT to get hit, and that's what they produce

  • on June 16, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    Excellent article Aakash Chopra. U made a excellent observation and a nice answer to Andy Roberts's comments on Munaf.

    Also i would like to mention that Glenn McGrath of Aus was also clocking at mid 130's at later part of his carrer, who got rewards for his consistent line and length. It's not about pace, coaches must nurture Munaf to a Glenn McGrath of India.

  • Heavymetalthunder on June 16, 2011, 8:02 GMT

    In the current WI series Munaf was bowling around 80mph and Praveen 75mph. The slow and low tacks and lack of quality batsman helped their cause. Mark my word these trundlers will get smashed by guys like Trott, Cook, Strauss etc in England. Its time we give Abhimanyu Mithun, Varun aaron etc a chance! Ishant will also, hopefully come good in england.

  • on June 16, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    Ashok16: superb comment mate...

  • sircha on June 16, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    Totally agree with Aakash Chopra's observation. I remember watching Munaf bowling in his first test against England. He was clocking 140-145 kmph and bowling deadly bouncers to the likes of Collingwood and Flintoff. Though he has cut down his pace, his simple strategy of line and length have earned him rich dividends.

  • sweetspot on June 16, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    While on this subject, I do notice some hocus pocus going on here about "genuine pace". Ishant was bowling fast than Steyn in one or two IPL games. Steyn was in the mid 140s, while Ishant was clocking 150+. But the displays continued to show Steyn as "Right Arm Fast" and Ishant as "Right Arm Fast Medium". This is not just some TV error. It is there in the mindset that Indians cannot bowl fast. That is a whole lot of hogwash. The speed difference between the faster new ball bowlers is not that high to warrant a whole different classification. Why don't we have the same thing for spinners then - "Right arm severe off spin" or "left arm light off spin" depending on the revolutions? In any case, what is this obsession about bowling fast? Only getting wickets and keeping it tight matter. If Munaf wants to bowl at 30kmph, let him. As long as he gets wickets, he will play. People like vakkaraju should become part of SOME world #1 team before talking about others' mediocrity.

  • on June 16, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    Well....I must add couple of Points....MUnaf had already slowed down from being a Genuine Quickie to Fast medium by the time he made his debut. Butthen he still had this ability to crank it up when he desired as evident from the test which India won or drawn when Bradshaw was battling out for the last wicket.

    RP and Sreeshanth also used to crank it up, but not any more....RP has infact lost his zip and unfortuantely is not gonna get it back...

    Wasim Akram has once mentioned that while bowling fast u tend to used a particular muscle in ur shoulder and once u stop bowling quick u tend not to use it and it is not easy to start using it all over again.

    Tghe Point is MUnaf is not gonna get it back.but atleasrt he bowls his normal balls around 80 miles.....How abt Praveen KUmar, he was bowling in the early 70s...!!! OMG...!!! now that is real spinner for you. He is more like Anil Kumble mode now who gets it to go both ways of the pitch. He needs a redemption..

  • just_chill_chill on June 16, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    @Shamshir Hussain : You are totally wrong. Look at the batsmen India has been producing over the years. At any point in time India can have 2 international teams full of top calss batsmen and could still have more awesome batsmen warming the bench. Teams like Pakistan can't produce 2-3 decent batsmen at a time. Children want to emulate their role models and if your role models are batsmen, well then you are going to be producing batsmen only.

  • just_chill_chill on June 16, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    @ashok16 : Best comment I have ever seen on cricinfo !!

  • JohnSilva on June 16, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    With such a lot of money with our board, why cant we prepare all types of wickets ??? Each state must have a few turners and a few quick pitches ! Let us act fast to save Yadav, Aaron and others who may be coming up. We need one tearaway in the 11 to soften up the opposition, even if (slightly) inaccurate. Anyway Munaf reinvented himself very well, is now a regular and our spinners better watch out !!!

  • on June 16, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    this finally makes some sense, what a difference when someone capable like Akash writes a article vs. most other writers here who think they are experts but make no sense.....

  • AB99 on June 16, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    2006-2007 wsa the Dravid - Chappel era where nurturing talent was not on the agenda. They were no Imran who nurtured Wasim Akram. As Munaf comes from a remote village in Gujarat with no big names (Gavaskar, Kapil , etc) to push for him and even MSD making strange statement about him ... he had to ensure his future. It shows his dedication to be one of the better controlled fast medium bowler in the country ... Sreesanth and Ishant (who touch 140 kmph) do not have his accuracy of Munaf (at 135 kmph). He is one of the unsung heros of the world cup win .... keep it up Munaf ...

  • moko58 on June 16, 2011, 3:26 GMT

    India won 1983 World cup with slow medium pace bowlers like Mohinder Amarnath. It also won 2011 World cup with 'pace bowlers who spin'. We are ok as long as we compete well.

  • ashok16 on June 16, 2011, 3:23 GMT

    It does not matter whether a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice.Similarly as long as Munaf is taking wickets, it doesnt matter if he is Curtly Ambrose or Roger Binny.

  • avmd on June 16, 2011, 3:01 GMT

    I think its not fair to expect Munaf to be a tearaway. He was never a genuine fast bowler. Currently he is bowling at his best capabilities. To be fast medium, if not genuine fast, you need a run up and rhythm which likes of Ashant Sharma, Sreesanth and Srinath in the past possessed, but Munaff doesn't. If he was trying to bowl much faster in his early days, probably he was over exerting himself without having the rhythm of a fast bowler and no wonder he ended up injuring himself. Cricktinng culture in India and selectors are also to be blamed for not encouraging budding fast bowlers. Look at that bowler, I think his name is Arun ??, I saw him playing for Delhi in IPL, he was bowling really fast, had a good uncomplicated action. He should have been picked up for WI tour, to encourage himself. Now he will be asked to give performance in Indian domestic cricket and I'm afraid he will be lost.

  • US_Indian on June 16, 2011, 2:55 GMT

    You are spot on Aakash, there is lack of fast bowling culture, not careful handling, lack of encouragement from the Board with security, the team management to go all out and express themselves and along with that not to fast track fast bowlers to International level without 2/3 years of exposure, let them play ranji, and tour with A team and other age level teams, battle harden them before introducing. One more issue when batsmen are encouraged to express themselves why not bowlers, if Durrani or Engineer where told to curb their instincts by Pataudi or had Gavaskar told Shrikanth to curb his natural instincts and if Sehwag or Dhoni was told to curb their natural instincts, they would not have been what they are now, so why not the same liberty to fast bowlers, until the freedom is given you are not going to get genuine fast bowlers and any fast bowler who is going to burst on indian scene is going to give up pace and fade away. Pace is not everything,being effective/productive is.

  • vakkaraju on June 16, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    The Munaf phenomenon of line and length conversion of fast bowlers also stems from another philosophy. Why go all out when I can keep my JOB by being mediocre. There is a certain lack of of ambition and hard work to be the fastest the best. The media circus also does not encourage fast bowlers as was the case with Sreesanth during the world cup. He was bowling at 140K plus, and every edge went to the boundary. How do you expect somebody to put their body and career online.

  • on June 16, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    Billion and growing. I am praying for at least one fast bowler. come on

  • Humdingers on June 16, 2011, 1:15 GMT

    It could be also a physicality issue. Look at Indian bowlers compared to Pakistani, Australian, SA etc. They lack the physical attributes that can sustain the wear and tear of fast bowling. What these guys need is a good, regular strength and conditioning program (look at what it did to Broad and Finn). Nutrition is another huge factor - are these guys really focusing on their recovery needs? You don't need performance enhancing drugs - just a solid protein, BCAA and hydration strategy, coupled with the necessary diet and exercise regime to fit in with "on-ground" fitness (i.e.: bowling a bucket load of overs). Last note: Sure out and out fast bowling is great - but as McGrath, Zaheer, Vass and co. proved, you don't need to be express. If Munaf is taking wickets - good on him!

  • on June 16, 2011, 0:39 GMT

    @ Paresh Varatkar; Well, you are totally wrong in comparing the performance of McGrath and Hadlee to Shoib and Waqar, simply because here we are talking about BOWLING SPEED and the Indian fast bowling misries. Taken as a fast bowler having great speed, Waqar and Shoaib are way ahead of McGrath and Hadlee despite the fact that they belong to the dead wicket culture. McGrath and Hadlee were not so quick to be compared with these Pakistanis. Alex was right to say that it is a stupid idea to say that India cant produce fast bowlers because of dead wickets. That's why he rightly gave the example pf Shoib, Waqar, Wasim etc who also bowled on dead wickets of Pakistan.

  • manoj09 on June 15, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    So long as he is taking wickets, does it matter how he does it? Zaheer did the same and he is India's best and most dependable bowler right now. He once had good pace and a lethal yorker. Now he is a much slower bowler but much more effective.

    Munaf is following his foot steps and is doing well. He took 11 wickets from 8 matches in the world cup. Harbhajan Singh, supposed to be India's best bowler, particularly in Indian conditions, took 9 wickets from 9 matches.

    So, really, how does it matter, if Munaf is bowling slow or spinning the ball?

  • spinkingKK on June 15, 2011, 23:27 GMT

    Good sensible and thoughtful article as a reply to Andy Roberts' comments. Was he really fast in the first Test he played? I have never seen him clock 145kph. Sreesanth is the guy India should be encouraging to stay as a pace bowler. Right now, the guy is under immense pressure not to go for too many runs. I have heard one of his interview after the world cup and he said he was happy with his performance, because he is not result-oriented but effort-oriented. But, from what Chopra said, he could also lose it soon.

  • on June 15, 2011, 22:02 GMT

    I think Akash is spot on in his evaluation of Munaf....For people who are comparing Munaf with pakistani fast bowlers they need to understand that there is a culture of fast bowling in Pakistan..Coaches back bowlers bowling fast and there are many fast bowling icons to look up to...Its not the same in India..India has never produced an out and out quick who youngsters can emulate...(Kapil dev was a wonderful bowler but was moreof a swing bowler)...

  • on June 15, 2011, 21:44 GMT

    It's a combination of reasons or a few of these reasons. 1. Poor bowling fitness, they don't bowl fast day in and day out (refer to Allan Donald's regime) 2. Poor upper body strength (look at Waqar, Wasim, and Shoaib, and then compare it with Ishant or Munaf) 3. Lack of desire to bowl fast and see the batsmen's stumps flying out of the ground 4. Just the general feeling that 'why do I have to bowl quick and waste so much energy when I get hit around?' 5. The inherent concept that to bowl accurately, you need to cut down on pace

  • SRT_GENIUS on June 15, 2011, 21:28 GMT

    If you goto Madan Lal and Venkatesh Prasad for Pace advice, they are not gonna tell you to build up your fitness so you can bowl faster, as simple as that! :)

  • Semoli on June 15, 2011, 21:24 GMT

    Sometimes I wonder if everyone reads the same article. Chopra is not just talking about conditions, he is talking about a countries tradition. India does not have a tradition of encouraging out and out fast bowlers. Pakistan, SA, Australia and WI do. If Munaf was in Pakistan, Imran or Akram or Inzi would have said go blast the opposition. 1992 WC, Imran wanted Akram to just bowl fast. Dhoni wants Shewag to just bat the way he bats. You need to persist, and let the player put in his hours and encourage him to do it, till he masters it. In India, we don't give the bowler the time or the space.

  • on June 15, 2011, 21:16 GMT

    I think Roberts has given a frank opinion about Munaf... May be article could have highlighted why india dont produce good fast bowler then only indian pitces.

  • cric-procrastinator on June 15, 2011, 21:13 GMT

    People who keep comparing with Pakistan are not reading what the author is saying. Fast bowlers are not encouraged to keep pace in India where as they are dencouraged to do so in pakistan. Pakistan has always prided themselves on creating fast bowlers where as India has not. Given a choice between Munaf bowling fast and falling apart every other match like Shoaib akthar or malinga do, India is prefering its bowlers to get wickets and not get injured. What the author is saying is you have to reassure the likes of Munf, ishant and umesh whi can clock higher 140 to just keep bowling fast and not be worried about injuries because Indian cricket has there back even if they are injured. This is not happenning and therefore Indian bowlers are going for longevity wheras in Pakistan there bowlers are ancouraged to go all out.

  • on June 15, 2011, 20:59 GMT

    And Alex, Do you think Shoaib akhtar or Wakar had good career like Mcgrath, Hadlee?They did not, there were flashes of brilliance could not be sustained. The other thing is that there is a lot more competetion for place in Indian cricket than Pakistan, if you can't keep up you will lose your place and never get another chance.

  • on June 15, 2011, 20:53 GMT

    Lame excuse as majority of the other comments have said. All subcontinent pitches are flat and dead...yet pakistan roll the fast bowlers off the conveyor belt time and time again! imran, wasim, waqar, akhtar, sami, gul, asif, aamer, riaz...and that's just a list off the top of my head...

    India not having a "culture of fast bowlers" in no excuse for an Indian fan like me. An attacking pacer is what India is lacking to seal the deal to become a real potent threat in world cricket. India need a real fast bowling coach...guys who really know the art.

    Some of the world class spinners haven't grown up on dusty pitches...warne, vettori, and swann more recently...so a fast bowler doesn't need to have been brought up at the WACA. They need to be taught the art of swing and seam to go along wit speed...most of our "fast" youngsters have neither and when speed doesn't work they choose line and length instead of learning to control the ball at speed.

  • balajik1968 on June 15, 2011, 20:46 GMT

    What Akash Chopra is pointing out is that India possibly did not handle Munaf Patel well. Maybe if someone had taken him under their wing at that stage and told him that he should only think like a fast bowler, he may have worked on his pace. Aditya Anchuri is right, we don't handle our fast bowlers well. As for Srinath, I remember that he was quite pacy until 2001. It was only in the last 2 years that he lost pace. I still remember him bowling in the high 80's upto 2000. Maybe Munaf and Ishant Sharma hold lessons for India on how to handle fast bowlers.

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:57 GMT

    The explanation for Munaf patel losing pace is laughable, Were Shoaib Aktar, Waqar younis bowling Fast Australian pitches? No, they were bowling in pitches just as dead as the ones Munaf and other Indian bowlers are bowling in but they didn't sacrifice their pace. They were smart and extremely quick so this argument holds no weight.

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:53 GMT

    People usually say 'Subcontinent pitches', not 'Indian pitches'. Is this article claiming that Indian pitches are dead, while Pakistani pitches aren't? because Pakistan seems to have no trouble producing quicks.

    I think the reason for India's lack of genuine pacers is a far more underlying problem than just 'poor pitches'. It could be the spinning craze, it could be genetics (build, body structure), or it could be, as the author suggests, quite simply that no Indian gives half a damn about nurturing the pacers who do come through. But unfortunately for those who want a quicker fast bowling attack, you can't just send every new kid up to England to get exposure, it needs to be done at home, and that ain't happening anytime soon...

  • ChuckyDoll on June 15, 2011, 19:50 GMT

    India could have a new strategy: have players under contract whose job is to exclusively live and play in Australia / South Africa / England. Then, when India visits them, call these specialists to deliver pace for India. After all, the BCCI is so rich that they can afford this. Perhaps this will be easier than changing the mentality of laying docile wickets in India.

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    This does not make any sense. How do indian conditions differ from any other conditions in the subcontinent, yet you see fast bowlers in Pak and Sri lanka. Clearly its not to be blamed on pitches and conditions but other things.

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    Aakash, surely Pakistani wickets are no different from Indian wickets. Some of them are even flatter. But Pakistani still manages to produce genuine quicks who last long and whose pace does not die. I think the problem is that we just lack the fast-bowling culture in India: the moment a fast bowler comes on to the scene, he is not prepared for cricket, and no one knows how to handle him. Even Srinath was pretty quick when he started off but lost pace towards the end of his career. But look at people like Wasim and Waqar -- they remained quick throughout their career.

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:32 GMT

    the pitches in Pakistan n Srilanka are not that different, so this excuse is a lame one. Also cutting down on pace n concentrating on lines n length may help him in ODI's but in test matches u still need some one with some pace, especially to go through the opposition on flat pitches.I was really very excited when Munaf made his debut aagainst England but as it is the case with many other Indian bowlers he too dropped pace.:(

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    I guess is the WI- four prong bowling attack bowled in Indian Conditions all the time, they all will be spinning too.

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  • on June 15, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    I guess is the WI- four prong bowling attack bowled in Indian Conditions all the time, they all will be spinning too.

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:32 GMT

    the pitches in Pakistan n Srilanka are not that different, so this excuse is a lame one. Also cutting down on pace n concentrating on lines n length may help him in ODI's but in test matches u still need some one with some pace, especially to go through the opposition on flat pitches.I was really very excited when Munaf made his debut aagainst England but as it is the case with many other Indian bowlers he too dropped pace.:(

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    Aakash, surely Pakistani wickets are no different from Indian wickets. Some of them are even flatter. But Pakistani still manages to produce genuine quicks who last long and whose pace does not die. I think the problem is that we just lack the fast-bowling culture in India: the moment a fast bowler comes on to the scene, he is not prepared for cricket, and no one knows how to handle him. Even Srinath was pretty quick when he started off but lost pace towards the end of his career. But look at people like Wasim and Waqar -- they remained quick throughout their career.

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    This does not make any sense. How do indian conditions differ from any other conditions in the subcontinent, yet you see fast bowlers in Pak and Sri lanka. Clearly its not to be blamed on pitches and conditions but other things.

  • ChuckyDoll on June 15, 2011, 19:50 GMT

    India could have a new strategy: have players under contract whose job is to exclusively live and play in Australia / South Africa / England. Then, when India visits them, call these specialists to deliver pace for India. After all, the BCCI is so rich that they can afford this. Perhaps this will be easier than changing the mentality of laying docile wickets in India.

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:53 GMT

    People usually say 'Subcontinent pitches', not 'Indian pitches'. Is this article claiming that Indian pitches are dead, while Pakistani pitches aren't? because Pakistan seems to have no trouble producing quicks.

    I think the reason for India's lack of genuine pacers is a far more underlying problem than just 'poor pitches'. It could be the spinning craze, it could be genetics (build, body structure), or it could be, as the author suggests, quite simply that no Indian gives half a damn about nurturing the pacers who do come through. But unfortunately for those who want a quicker fast bowling attack, you can't just send every new kid up to England to get exposure, it needs to be done at home, and that ain't happening anytime soon...

  • on June 15, 2011, 19:57 GMT

    The explanation for Munaf patel losing pace is laughable, Were Shoaib Aktar, Waqar younis bowling Fast Australian pitches? No, they were bowling in pitches just as dead as the ones Munaf and other Indian bowlers are bowling in but they didn't sacrifice their pace. They were smart and extremely quick so this argument holds no weight.

  • balajik1968 on June 15, 2011, 20:46 GMT

    What Akash Chopra is pointing out is that India possibly did not handle Munaf Patel well. Maybe if someone had taken him under their wing at that stage and told him that he should only think like a fast bowler, he may have worked on his pace. Aditya Anchuri is right, we don't handle our fast bowlers well. As for Srinath, I remember that he was quite pacy until 2001. It was only in the last 2 years that he lost pace. I still remember him bowling in the high 80's upto 2000. Maybe Munaf and Ishant Sharma hold lessons for India on how to handle fast bowlers.

  • on June 15, 2011, 20:53 GMT

    Lame excuse as majority of the other comments have said. All subcontinent pitches are flat and dead...yet pakistan roll the fast bowlers off the conveyor belt time and time again! imran, wasim, waqar, akhtar, sami, gul, asif, aamer, riaz...and that's just a list off the top of my head...

    India not having a "culture of fast bowlers" in no excuse for an Indian fan like me. An attacking pacer is what India is lacking to seal the deal to become a real potent threat in world cricket. India need a real fast bowling coach...guys who really know the art.

    Some of the world class spinners haven't grown up on dusty pitches...warne, vettori, and swann more recently...so a fast bowler doesn't need to have been brought up at the WACA. They need to be taught the art of swing and seam to go along wit speed...most of our "fast" youngsters have neither and when speed doesn't work they choose line and length instead of learning to control the ball at speed.

  • on June 15, 2011, 20:59 GMT

    And Alex, Do you think Shoaib akhtar or Wakar had good career like Mcgrath, Hadlee?They did not, there were flashes of brilliance could not be sustained. The other thing is that there is a lot more competetion for place in Indian cricket than Pakistan, if you can't keep up you will lose your place and never get another chance.