October 27, 2011

'If you play all forms of cricket, you may end up being mediocre'

Is fast bowling a dying art? Five former quicks answer questions on problems plaguing today's fast bowlers
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Fast bowlers are on the verge of becoming an endangered species. They suffer many, and frequently recurring, injuries these days, owing in part to the volume of cricket being played. And fewer seem to come up through the ranks than before. ESPNcricinfo picked the brains of five of the finest of the species at a fast bowling conference organised by the Lord's Taverner's in London in September, to find out why the art of pace is on the decline.

Have relentless scheduling, placid pitches, and playing in three different formats without many breaks had an impact on the modern-day fast bowler?

Glenn McGrath Yes and no. To be a great bowler, to be successful, you have to be able to perform day in and day out, in different conditions all round the world, and then you can probably say to yourself, "I've done a pretty decent job."

I'm not sure what the exact problem is with modern-day fast bowlers: even in Australia a lot of quicks are getting injured. In 1995 I came back from West Indies and I had lost a lot of weight. I had torn my intercostal muscle, and I thought if I wanted to be successful at Test cricket and play a long time, I'd have to do something differently. So I found a guy and trained with him and worked as hard as I could to get physically strong, and that helped me stay in good shape. So whether scheduling these days is not allowing that recovery or time off to build your strength back, to get fit and get strong again… maybe that has a little bit to do with it.

Would I decide to play one form of the game to prolong my career? Some guys do that. I never wanted to. Test cricket and one-day cricket were two different formats of the game, with different challenges. You had to go with different plans, and I actually enjoyed that. Throw Twenty20 into the mix and again you need a different gameplan and a different way to go about it. So I would play in all three formats of the game.

Curtly Ambrose The workload is a bit too much, to be quite honest. I mean, guys are going from one tour to the next without having any time to recover. Your body needs time to recuperate. So some of the guys get injuries so often.

Richard Hadlee It is all about the bowling loading. If you condition yourself to playing three different formats, you train differently. And if you are alternating between different forms, you might not be right for one form or the other. In one-day cricket you tend to bowl more wide of the crease and angle the ball in to crack the batsman up. In Test cricket you want to get closer to the stumps, running the ball away, where you have the field set to catch. Now in Twenty20 you bowl similar to one-day cricket - wider, directly into the batsman to cramp him; the field is set differently.

It creates different stresses and strains on the body in trying to bowl differently. You cannot avoid that. You have to make a decision about what form of the game you want to really play. If you want to play all forms of the game, you find that you do not become effective in any, and that creates mediocrity.

Andy Roberts I do not think it is scheduling. I do not think the reason is the pitches. Pakistan have fast pitches? People are complaining about the lack of fast pitches, yet Pakistan have a number of great fast bowlers. It has nothing to do with a pitch, because the ball does not gather pace once it hits the pitch. You are fast because you are fast through the air. If you are saying you do not get response from the pitch, that is different. But do not say you do not have fast bowlers because there are no fast pitches.

How many great fast bowlers did you have in the history of cricket up to 1990? How many of those fast bowlers had back injuries? These modern-day fast bowlers do not bowl half the overs I bowled. In my first season in county cricket I bowled 800 overs between April and August. Then I went to India and bowled 200 more overs.

We used to have boots made to specifications. The boots today's fast bowlers wear are light, and that could also be a problem.

Clive Rice It is not about the workload. Just before I started playing, guys in England bowled 1600 overs in a county season. Guys today have it easy. The more you bowl, the better you become. Even when we were playing, there was a theory that we were playing too much. Playing in England, if you were not available to play all the time, with all the rain, you would not have played. If you had a sunny period then you bowled a lot of overs. You were tired, but you could only be pleasantly weary and you got on with it. And you learned. When you were bowling at Viv Richards or at Sunil Gavaskar, you told yourself not to bowl in the wrong spots, because otherwise you would disappear.

I am not sure why they are getting injured. Maybe they have moved on to playing on indoor pitches [in training], which have concrete bases that mess up your back. If there is a soil base, there is a bit more give.

It is up to the bowler to make sure he stays fit. A fast bowler, to me, is like a sprinter in athletics. You have got to be able to sprint, not just jog in to bowl. Then you can stand up to it. You see the guys with long run-ups, but you are not running 5000 metres. You have got to run in with a purpose.

Is speed overrated?

"Anyone who is a fast bowler wants to bowl as fast as he can and bowl the magic 100mph delivery. But at the end of the day you have to have control, bowling at a good pace"
Glenn McGrath

Hadlee Speed isn't everything. But if you have natural speed with a good technique, it is a good asset to have. A lot of youngsters are either too full or too short. But once they start hitting that magical length, beating a batsman off a length, where the batsman is not sure whether to go forward or back and is crease-bound, that is when the fast bowler is going to be effective. It does not matter if he is then moving the ball in the air or off the track. You are creating three ways to get the batsman out: caught behind, lbw and bowled. If you are too full or too short, you are only giving yourself one chance.

McGrath My hero was Dennis Lillee. You look at the Windies teams of the 1970s and '80s - they were incredible, with all their fast bowlers running in, bowling like the wind. Anyone who is a fast bowler wants to bowl as fast as he can and bowl the magic 100mph delivery. But at the end of the day you still have to be consistent. You have to have control [while] bowling at a good pace. I tried to bowl as fast I could, but I had reasonable control, so that helped me.

Rice Everyone likes to bowl 90mph. And if you do bowl that sort of speed, the guys batting are under a great deal of pressure because of the speed at which it is coming. It is like driving a Formula 1 car to driving a salon car - there is a huge difference. So the bowler should find out how quick he actually he is, and then when he finds what this top pace is, he should settle down. Vary your pace by bowling 90% and 100%.

Are fast bowlers over-coached?

Ambrose Back in my time I was never really coached, per se. I learned my craft as I went along. And because I am a very, very proud person I wanted to be the best at what I do. I wanted my team to be the best. So I was forced to learn and learn quickly. But I believe guys should be coached, because when you are in the middle you [the bowler] do not see everything. When you are playing, you focus on some things, but you do not readily see the mistakes. That is where the coach comes in. The coach can point out the mistakes that you make and tries to correct them.

But we tend to rely too much on technology when coaching. I am not saying you cannot use it, but sometimes technology is overused. Whatever you put in the computer is what it gives out. The best form of coaching is in the nets. You can go on a computer and map out strategies about getting batsmen out, and everything looks perfect. But when you go in the middle, it is a different ball game altogether. What happens if the batsman decides to change his way of batting?

McGrath When I was young I did not have any coaching or did not model myself on anyone else. The first time I had coaching was when I was 22 - with Dennis Lillee - and that was more about refining my action. Sometimes these days young bowlers can be over-coached. They could be over-bowled or even under-bowled. You have to let the guy find his own action - as long as it is not a mixed action which is going to cause stress fractures. If he has got a good basis to build the action on, then let him go and bowl as much as he wants to.

Hadlee We bowled and bowled and bowled. We ran. We did not use the gym as much as they do today. You have computers telling you what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong. Those tools are useful to have, but sometimes simplicity is the best way to go.

Roberts The teachers who turn into coaches, coming in with their scientific approach to fast bowling, are causing the decline of fast bowling. They are literally changing a fast bowler's action, from using the body to using shoulders. You cannot bowl fast for long with your shoulder. I am not against the biomechanics, but bowlers are being over-coached and the coaches are coaching the wrong way.

Rice We learned certainly from watching other guys bowl, and copied them. Today if a coach has got a particular idea he is trying to instill in a person, maybe that is over-coaching the guy, because that is not the nature of how he wants to bowl or how his body is letting him bowl. As a bowling coach you just need to give him advice in terms of improving his skills and getting the simple things done right. If you change the action and stuff like that, then there will be problems.

Has Twenty20 watered down the fast bowler?

Hadlee It is a very destructive game for all cricketers, honestly. They get into bad habits. What sort of rhythm can you get into by bowling four overs in two different spells when you have got only 12 minutes to bowl in a match? You cannot become efficient with restriction and limitation in the game like that.

Roberts If you have a good fast bowler, he would be more effective in Twenty20 cricket than anybody else. If you bowl a 95-100 mph delivery, it would be very, very difficult for anybody to slog you over long-on or long-off.

Ambrose Twenty20 to me has a part to play in cricket because it is exciting and fans love excitement. But it is a game for batsmen, really. However, it should not affect the fast bowler because you are only bowling four overs maximum. As a matter of fact it could be a learning process for the bowler. Twenty20 can be a sort of stepping stone for a fast bowler to work out ways of containing the batsman when he is really going at you.

Has cricket generally made it harder for fast bowlers to succeed by protecting batsmen too much?

Ambrose There is nothing in it for the fast bowler. Modern-day cricket favours the batsman in every aspect. The pitches are mostly flat and not conducive to fast bowling. Then they have this one-bouncer-per-over rule.

McGrath I do not mind it too much. Hopefully the rules do not change too much. At the end of the day you have to be able to adjust. As a bowler you cannot just say, this is the way I bowl. If the rules change, you adjust accordingly.

I am very much a traditionalist. The way it is being played, I prefer to keep it that way. The modern-day cricketer is playing the same game we played 10, 20, 50, 100 years ago. There have been a few rule changes in this time, but I am fine.

Rice It has even become harder for fast bowlers bowling at tailenders, because now they bat with the helmet on and all the padding in the world. When we bowled at them I would say to the tailender, "Are you trying to prove you are a batsman? If you are I am going to hit you in the head."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on October 29, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    i think they should also have asked what is problem of our(indian) fast bowlers even now i realise like india sri lanka also produce one good fast bowler but not often

  • on October 29, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    i think they should also have asked what is problem of our(indian) fast bowlers even now i realise like india sri lanka also produce one good fast bowler but not often

  • on October 29, 2011, 1:10 GMT

    Wait a minute ...if pitches have become flatter than ever...then Dale Steyn with the best average of all time is clearly the greatest fast bowler ever...No ?

  • harshthakor on October 28, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    The plain fact is that cricketers are simply overloaded with a continuous playing schedule.Adjusting to so many forms of cricket is very demanding and is simply killing the pacemen.In addition today the game is getting more and more loaded in favour of the batsmen with restriction on bouncers .If Lillee,and Roberts bowled today their careers may well have finished early.Today pitches have considerably slowed down in the Carribean,Australia and South Africa.

    The true test is test cricket which is on a decline.We have to either get rid of 50 over or t-20 cricket.The number of test matches also has to be reduced.To much attention is given to fitness training toady which is also stressing fast bowlers.

  • on October 27, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    I feel it is tough for bowler to play across different formats because of the different lengths required. For batsman, it's not that difficult to be successful in all formats.

  • smudgeon on October 27, 2011, 23:19 GMT

    Fast bowling has to be accompanied with variation and the ability to put the ball in the right spot (or close enough). Otherwise, you'll get pasted, I don't care how fast you bowl. As Clive Rice says, even tail-enders have little to fear from the super-quicks because there's little risk of physical damage apart from the occasional sand-shoe crusher. I think quicks (current and up-&-comers) would do well to pay attention to what these five guys say, even if they seem to have differing views on certain aspects of cricket.

  • ygkd on October 27, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    This is one of the best interview articles I've ever seen on this site. Hadlee seems spot on about different formats delivering different stresses on an action. Ditto Rice's comment about bowling with concrete under-foot. Ambrose says the body needs time to recover in the scheduling, Roberts says modern foot-wear may not be ideal, while McGrath says that if a bowler has a good, long-term action he should be able to decide how much he can bowl. Yet the point which stuck in my head the most seemed to lead towards the idea that the black-and-white use of technology can distance coaching somewhat from the give-and-take of a close two-way relationship, the latter surely providing the greatest opportunity for a young(ish) player to ultimately put something into place in a way best suited to himself/herself.

  • playitstraight on October 27, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    Well actually, fast bowlers r dying but mainly in India and Sri Lanka bcuz Malinga and Zaheer are getting injured all the time. Pakistan have a great talent for proudcing fast bowlers over and over, even after Wasim Akram and Waquor Younis, they made Shoaib Akthar, Mohd. Asif, Mohd. Amir, and now Junaid Khan and Aizaz Cheema. Only if our India had some of these fast bowlers we would be such a good team anywhere in the world. But, Praveen and Ishant are doing a good job in leading the pace attack without Zaheer and Sreesanth is doing his job at times. I think that if fast bowlers are made to bowl over 20 overs in an innings of test match, then their body will become fragile and they will get injuries. The max. for fast bowlers shud be 10-15 overs in an innings, and they should not be bowling in all formats, maybe one shud bowl in only test and odi, then one can bowl in t20 and another can bowl in odi and t20.

  • arup_g on October 27, 2011, 21:13 GMT

    There is nothing quite as good as top class fast bowling against top class batsmen. I grew up watching the likes of Ambrose and Donald tearing away through top orders - it's amazing to watch! It inspired me to bowl fast, and I copied Donald's action and became a hit at my club with my speed. I still love watching the likes of Lee, Bond, Steyn, Finn etc hit 90mph on a regular basis and trouble the top batsmen around the world. Fast bowling should never be underestimated - it was what made West Indies so powerful in the 70s and Pakistan in the 90s.

  • DwightR on October 27, 2011, 21:07 GMT

    i think guys like Lasith Malinga n Dale Steyn, perhaps the two best fast bowlers in the sport today would take exception to this article and the claims that fast bowlers are dying art..

  • on October 29, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    i think they should also have asked what is problem of our(indian) fast bowlers even now i realise like india sri lanka also produce one good fast bowler but not often

  • on October 29, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    i think they should also have asked what is problem of our(indian) fast bowlers even now i realise like india sri lanka also produce one good fast bowler but not often

  • on October 29, 2011, 1:10 GMT

    Wait a minute ...if pitches have become flatter than ever...then Dale Steyn with the best average of all time is clearly the greatest fast bowler ever...No ?

  • harshthakor on October 28, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    The plain fact is that cricketers are simply overloaded with a continuous playing schedule.Adjusting to so many forms of cricket is very demanding and is simply killing the pacemen.In addition today the game is getting more and more loaded in favour of the batsmen with restriction on bouncers .If Lillee,and Roberts bowled today their careers may well have finished early.Today pitches have considerably slowed down in the Carribean,Australia and South Africa.

    The true test is test cricket which is on a decline.We have to either get rid of 50 over or t-20 cricket.The number of test matches also has to be reduced.To much attention is given to fitness training toady which is also stressing fast bowlers.

  • on October 27, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    I feel it is tough for bowler to play across different formats because of the different lengths required. For batsman, it's not that difficult to be successful in all formats.

  • smudgeon on October 27, 2011, 23:19 GMT

    Fast bowling has to be accompanied with variation and the ability to put the ball in the right spot (or close enough). Otherwise, you'll get pasted, I don't care how fast you bowl. As Clive Rice says, even tail-enders have little to fear from the super-quicks because there's little risk of physical damage apart from the occasional sand-shoe crusher. I think quicks (current and up-&-comers) would do well to pay attention to what these five guys say, even if they seem to have differing views on certain aspects of cricket.

  • ygkd on October 27, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    This is one of the best interview articles I've ever seen on this site. Hadlee seems spot on about different formats delivering different stresses on an action. Ditto Rice's comment about bowling with concrete under-foot. Ambrose says the body needs time to recover in the scheduling, Roberts says modern foot-wear may not be ideal, while McGrath says that if a bowler has a good, long-term action he should be able to decide how much he can bowl. Yet the point which stuck in my head the most seemed to lead towards the idea that the black-and-white use of technology can distance coaching somewhat from the give-and-take of a close two-way relationship, the latter surely providing the greatest opportunity for a young(ish) player to ultimately put something into place in a way best suited to himself/herself.

  • playitstraight on October 27, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    Well actually, fast bowlers r dying but mainly in India and Sri Lanka bcuz Malinga and Zaheer are getting injured all the time. Pakistan have a great talent for proudcing fast bowlers over and over, even after Wasim Akram and Waquor Younis, they made Shoaib Akthar, Mohd. Asif, Mohd. Amir, and now Junaid Khan and Aizaz Cheema. Only if our India had some of these fast bowlers we would be such a good team anywhere in the world. But, Praveen and Ishant are doing a good job in leading the pace attack without Zaheer and Sreesanth is doing his job at times. I think that if fast bowlers are made to bowl over 20 overs in an innings of test match, then their body will become fragile and they will get injuries. The max. for fast bowlers shud be 10-15 overs in an innings, and they should not be bowling in all formats, maybe one shud bowl in only test and odi, then one can bowl in t20 and another can bowl in odi and t20.

  • arup_g on October 27, 2011, 21:13 GMT

    There is nothing quite as good as top class fast bowling against top class batsmen. I grew up watching the likes of Ambrose and Donald tearing away through top orders - it's amazing to watch! It inspired me to bowl fast, and I copied Donald's action and became a hit at my club with my speed. I still love watching the likes of Lee, Bond, Steyn, Finn etc hit 90mph on a regular basis and trouble the top batsmen around the world. Fast bowling should never be underestimated - it was what made West Indies so powerful in the 70s and Pakistan in the 90s.

  • DwightR on October 27, 2011, 21:07 GMT

    i think guys like Lasith Malinga n Dale Steyn, perhaps the two best fast bowlers in the sport today would take exception to this article and the claims that fast bowlers are dying art..

  • ElPhenomeno on October 27, 2011, 20:53 GMT

    mrmonty, you're clueless if you think steyn, amir, asif, zaheer or mitchell johnson (laugh) has the variety and quality of a wasim akram. Lest you forget, Wasim was nominated in the greatest cricket team of all time by the panel of ICC experts where guys like Lara and ponting did not make the list. Now which one of the bowlers mentioned above will make it into that team????

  • Masking_Tape on October 27, 2011, 20:07 GMT

    Good interview, but "Is Speed overrate?"

    LOL of course you'd ask that considering you are an Indian reporter. Just because your bowlers can't bowl fast, you think it's overrated... ha

  • InnocentGuy on October 27, 2011, 19:42 GMT

    Who wants fast bowling? Or slow bowling? Medium pace is the best!! :) In that regard, Ravi Bopara is the best bowler of all time!

  • mrmonty on October 27, 2011, 19:35 GMT

    @ElPhenomeno, I disagree when you say there are no bowlers of the caliber of Wasim/Waqar/Ambrose. Steyn has the best strike rate of anyone with 200 or more wickets. Asif and Amir were (what a shame) two fine bowlers as good as McGrath and Wasim, if not better. Mitchel Johnson (if he gets his act together) and Zaheer Khan (if he keeps his hamstring together) can be a handful. Not to mention the English in seam/swinging conditions. The problem has been docile pitches, batsman friendly rules, distractions like IPL and such. Plus these bowlers built their reputation in Test cricket, which has taken a backseat at present. Being nostalgic is fine, but not just for the sake of it.

  • ElPhenomeno on October 27, 2011, 19:19 GMT

    Rakim, cricket will be interesting when the quality is raised. If someone like akram was playing today it wouldn't matter what pitch, condition or format of the game he was playing in. Batsman will still be running scared..

    The problem happens when you have too many mediocre players playing too much cricket against each other ....... eventually people will figure out that its not the pitch, but the lack of skill that makes up for boring cricket. Like andy said, pitch does not make a bowler effective, skill does.

  • on October 27, 2011, 19:17 GMT

    in INDIA I feel at present ISHANT SHARMA will be the most successfull bowler among the fast bowlers, he will be the Leading wicket taker in Westindies series...

  • Satish.V on October 27, 2011, 19:14 GMT

    Excellent article.The more a bowler bowls, the better he will get.I dont think too much T20 cricket is the reason behind fast bowlers getting injured.Even if a fast bowler plays all the matches for his IPL side, he would ve bowled around 60 overs over a period of 3 weeks, which is not a lot.The decline in fast bowling has more to do with the mindset and bowlers wanting to preserve themselves for the long run.Rarely do you see a modern day bowler guts it out in the county league.Zaheer Khan spent a year in England and look at the difference it made.Ask any great fast bowler and he would advocate bowling more and more.I did read a few comments about working out in the gym causes bowlers to lose sting.I disagree with that.Being a fast bowler myself,I can say that working out in the gym does help.It gives your muscles the necessary conditioning & helps you bowl faster.But you dont have to build muscles like Schwarzenneger for that.Lifting Moderate weights in the gym regularly is helpful.

  • ElPhenomeno on October 27, 2011, 17:38 GMT

    I always thought Mohammed Sami was one of the fittest fast bowlers around. Amazing stamina and could bowl consistently around 90mph. Somehow he couldn't cut it at the highest level. I remember waqar saying he tried to help him but sami couldn't get his wrist position correct which took the bite out of his bowling. I agree with hadlee, best thing to do is to keep it simple. Everyone has to figure out their own actions and what their bodies can or cannot do. It is cases like Sami where a good coach can help with technical things like getting the wrist position right. Not to change their entire actions altogether. I remember once playing at the club level and my coach tried to change the way I bat for no reason whatsoever. He wanted me to shuffle pretty much every ball when I was playing spinners and wouldn't sufficiently explain why. I thought he was crazy.

  • ElPhenomeno on October 27, 2011, 17:32 GMT

    Its not that fast bowling is dying, its the quality of the bowling that is deteriorating. There is NOT ONE, I say again, NOT ONE bowler today - including steyn - that even remotely has the quality and variety of a Wasim, Waqar or Ambrose. I am a south african but a huge fan of Wasim. For my money, I dont think it gets any better than that. Guy had it all, reverse swing, swing both ways, cutters, yorkers, slower ball and a nasty bouncer to go with it all. Not to mention he did it everwhere on every kind of pitch. I have heard many great batsmen talk, most agree wasim to be the most dangerous bowler they've faced. Nowdays if jimmy anderson takes some wickets playing in swinging conditions media talks about it for a month.

  • on October 27, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    It would have been much better if the modern day quicky ZacK have been given the ample opportunity to talk about fast bowling.... As large number of matches by all the major teams are going to be played in India

  • Rakim on October 27, 2011, 17:11 GMT

    Cricket would be more interesting if bowlers are favored

  • lugujaga on October 27, 2011, 17:01 GMT

    all forms of cricket will be good cricket if you you have good players,so for any old timer to say t20 ncricket is not good for cricket thats total rubbish, the fact is t20 cricket is what i call emergency cricket;imagine having only a limited amount of overs to accomplish a win,that way you are forced to do everything the best way possible. to me it cuts to the chase and almost 100% of the time you get a result. t20 cricket is like life on a limited budget. to me it is the best form of the game ,quite simply put no time to waste, you have to get it right under emergency conditions and that is imidiately.

  • on October 27, 2011, 16:39 GMT

    If one analyses the Future Tour Programme of ICC it outs a lot of load on fast bowlers especially in subcontinent. The sum and sunstance of the debate of these great bowlers is give more time for recovery.Having covered the game for 4 decades I feel anyone bowling over 140km, shouldn't be allowed to play T20. Compensate if you can because money is very important to them too but don't kiil them. Preserve them. Quick bowlers add to excitment and entertainmement. The system is producing mediocre medium pacers.

  • on October 27, 2011, 15:20 GMT

    Reallt the art of fast bowling and spin bowling are dying..there is two more aspect to it that is shorter boundaries and good bats by which even miss time shorts are going for six and fours...

  • on October 27, 2011, 14:39 GMT

    Fast bowlers should choose betwwen the three formats of the game & decide which one the formats they want to concentrate on.I believe they should focus more on test matches .And the cricket board of different countries shoiuld include a proper rotation policy especially for the fast bowlers so that there is less burden upon them.And not to forget that fast bowler friendly wicket should be made around the world.Hoping that the cricketi world gets more fast bowlers like Glenn Mcgrath,Wasim Akram & the other greats.

  • DaGameChanger on October 27, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    Respect for all of them but there is one huge problem with above Panel. No one has played 20-20. Andy says you cannot slog fast bowlers to long-on lon-off..gone are those days..nowadays there are batsman llike Sehwag who can hit six with upper cut and Dilshan/Mccullum with his scoop and Dhoni with bottom-end swing...Faster you bowl, faster it disappears...

  • Technical-1 on October 27, 2011, 13:02 GMT

    I could never understand why anyone wants to bowl slow..LOL Just thought when I was growing up that spin bowlers were just lazy.. But its an Art..

    But as a Jamaican.. Bowling fast.. was our best weapon againt Batsmen. especially when you can hit them..LOL

  • on October 27, 2011, 12:15 GMT

    I feel this article would have been much better if they had a couple of modern day fast bowlers giving their opinion as well. They would have given some counter arguments to what these oldies are saying about technology and being coached too much.

  • rko_rules on October 27, 2011, 11:58 GMT

    What an article!! One of the best!!

  • ABP235 on October 27, 2011, 11:54 GMT

    Very important subject. My view is that, unless a bowler is found to be consistent in any one form of the game, he should not be forced to the other format. Second, bowlers who can bowl faster than 135kph, should be first deployed and trained to be useful test bowlers. Those with a variety, but lesser pace, should be employed in the shorter versions. Only great bowlers like Steyn, Morkel can be effective, but the risk of injury is increased because even these superstar bowlers are forced to dive around on the boundary ropes trying to save 1-2 runs in shorter versions of the game, which can ruin their careers. From an Indian perspective, we have the example of guys like Mithun who is well built, showed lot of mettle initially in test matches with 140+ speed, but has now gone down on that front due to the IPL. We need our 140+ bowlers like Umesh Yadav and Aaron to be stuck to test matches for 2 years and not be bothered by IPL teams or chosen for ODIs till they settle down.

  • on October 27, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    Good Article.If you have to bowl fast you have to live and die by the sword.Most demanding job in Cricket.

  • jkaussie on October 27, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    @HusseinShah: because that is who they spoke to for this particular article, no prejudice, no conspiracy, nothing but who they could get hold of. Next time there is an article on batting that only has an Indian player, should we complain? - build a bridge. @Mark00: what a load of rubbish you spout! You make massive generalizations about gym training and coaches. Do you spend time in a gym? Have you done any rehabilitation from injury, gait re-adjustment to prevent injury, core stability work or balance work - I think not, because then you would know that most of these things don't use discrete muscle groups, they involve multi-muscle group actions that replicate the athlete's actions they use to perform their role. Re coaches, give us one name of any 1st Class or International cricket coach in the world who hasn't played at least to district level and who have never been athletes? bet you can't.

  • SouthPaw on October 27, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    Excellent article and what everybody says can be summed up by Hadlee's statement - "You have to keep it simple". How true! Doubters, please read "The Art of Fast Bowling" by Dennis K Lillee, one of the greatest bowlers of all times.

  • sweetspot on October 27, 2011, 10:35 GMT

    Athletes who run like the wind, eat like the ghost, and sleep sound won't have any problem making their bodies do what they are trained to do. The "Super" athletes have problems with breaking down all the time, because of their high maintenance nonsense routines they are put through. One hour of yoga ought to give enough suppleness and strength to our bowlers. Bowling 300 deliveries a day at close to full tilt with rest in between should help!

  • on October 27, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    There is no better sight in cricket than watching a tearaway bowler striking bastman with fear..Any bowler operating at 92-96 mph is a rarity and is extinct nowadays..Really craving to see a fast bowler doing that especially in tests...It will benefit world cricket big time..

  • on October 27, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    "Pakistan have fast pitches? People are complaining about the lack of fast pitches, yet Pakistan have a number of great fast bowlers" - well said .

  • sharidas on October 27, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Let me put in a few words on the lack of fast bowlers in India. First of all physique itself is not important ! Most boys when they grow up prefer to bowl fast, as there is no better sight in the game than to see fear in the eyes of a batsman and the the sight of a flying stump. In Pakistan and in the Gulf states, it is very common to see cricket games played with a "taped tennis ball". The speed one can generate with these balls is extremely encouraging especially on concrete or even asphalt - but not on normal ground. It would encourage fast bowling if a small strip of concrete or asphalt is laid out on school grounds in India for this purpose. It is cheap and affordable to play with taped balls and this will encourage boys even in poor neighbourhoods to try their hands at fast bowling.

  • Romanticstud on October 27, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    Clive Rice may not have played test cricket, but he was the best allrounder in the world. He has played in England and South Africa. He played against the top cricketers in county cricket and against the rebels that came to South Africa. There was an article about South Africa being the best place for fast bowling. He is more than qualified to speak about fast bowlers. Had South Africa not been in the cold, South Africa vs West Indies in South Africa would have been great to watch Le Roux, Rice, Procter, Van der Bijl, Jeffries, Hanley vs Roberts, Garner, Holding, Croft, Marshall. And Cook, Fothers, Pollock, Barry Richards vs Greenidge, Viv Richards, Rowe, Lloyd, Haynes.

  • Tigg on October 27, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    Great to hear the views of some of the best quicks ever to grace the cricket pitch.

    Get the quicks of the gym onto the pitch.

  • on October 27, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    To keep fast bowling alive, the world need to support Pakistan, not saying this just because I belong to Pakistan, there are reasons. Bowling quick is a passion and inspirational. Many fast bowler around the world are quick only because they are inspired by other quick bowlers they see threatening quality batsmen, so many bowlers around the world follow Waqar, Wasim and Shoib. e.g Lasith inspired by Waqar, Shoib inspired by Waqar. The world has witnessed how a young 17 years old Kid (Amir) troubled strong betting line ups.

  • robheinen on October 27, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    All the injury stories, in my opinion, are the result of the action of the fast bowler. I can honestly say that I get a shoulder injury just watching Johnson, Tait, Edwards or Malinga bowl. I can't remember McGrath or Ambrose having had a shoulder injury. They have a clean bowling action. So it's probably a selectors job to select bowlers also on being injury prone or not and then subsequently coaches to watch them bowl and discuss abberations in actions they spot during training or matches. Furthermore, bowlers should be made aware of signals from their bodies that precede every serious injury. In Clive Rice's advise to bowl between 90% and 100% I would suggest to hardly ever bowl 100%, because that's where I feel you lose contact with the signals your body sends to your brain. Do it every now and again to warn the batsman, but take good care of yourself all the time.

  • Nutcutlet on October 27, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    Interesting article - and it seems to me that there are three major reasons for the increase in injuries to fast bowlers these days.(1) Too much gym work where heavy and over-muscled upper bodies put additional strain on the legs and lower back (2) The comparative lack of miles in the legs (3) The requirement to bowl differently in three formats. This last will, in a short time, lead to individuals, and/or their national selectors, identifying which format is suited to which bowler. Indeed, this is already evident: Dirk Nannes will never bowl in a non-T20 match. Malinga has already reached the same conclusion for himself. Jade Dernbach will never play test cricket; his skills are honed (alright, being honed!) to the shortest format. In the end, maybe five years from now, this selection for each format may become formalised for batsmen too. I can see international cricket splitting into two, if not three - Viz. The odi/T20 specialists and the test players, with no signif. overlaps.

  • FatBoysCanBat on October 27, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    @Hussain Shah: Clive Rice is a South African, I guess that you thought he was a West Indian. He never played a test though so they probably should have found someone else, perhaps someone like Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram or Waqar Younis to get a Sub-continent perspective. @Mark00: Agree with everything you said mate.

  • itisme on October 27, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    @mark00: you are spot on. In Problem#3 about the deficiencies of modern food, we must add GM food. Genetically modified food is bad for health and in fact it is dangerous and harmful to any human being. It is poison and everybody, not just sportspersons and athelets, must avoid GM food.

  • smalishah84 on October 27, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    great article. Wonderful to hear the views of some of the champion fast bowlers of bygone eras. Good to hear Andy Roberts speak of Pak fast bowlers :)

  • satish619chandar on October 27, 2011, 6:48 GMT

    Thats very well said.. Bowler should pick the format they want to play and then concentrate on it.. Especially pace bowlers.. You either practice mastering slow balls and yorkers or line and length and bowling with patience.. It is similar to batsmen.. Either you practice to hit ball into different areas(For shorter formats) or play text book technique cricket and leave good deliveries(For longer format).. For this to happen, the test players need to be paid a bit more so that the players can earn a bit more and fill their pocket.. This wont rush the players to go after the T20 leagues and hamper their body and bowling rhythm..

  • hassan13 on October 27, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    a good contest between bat and ball is better quality cricket. Having the batsmen in permanent advantage for the sake of more sixes and fours is killing the game. Batsmen should have good technique to average highly. Nowadays any hack with hand eye will be a t20 superstar. Bring back the price of runs.

  • jonesy2 on October 27, 2011, 5:39 GMT

    now batting is more a concentration game, not so much talent. which is why english batsmen have been boring as to death of late.

  • on October 27, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    why only WI,Aus and NZ representationin this discussion?

  • johnathonjosephs on October 27, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    There is some truth to what Richard Hadlee said, but Clive Rice hit it spot on. Fast bowlers today don't bowl as much balls as they did back in the day. Nobody even joins England's County Cricket anymore and instead aim for the "big Bash" and the "IPL" where they bowl 4 overs a MATCH if they are lucky. Saddest thing is, today's players, most of them play more Tests than first class matches. Look at all the great bowlers still left today and they all either played Country Cricket or are very experienced. Just to add.... Junaid Khan was one of the few youngsters who went to play County Cricket (he just got out) and look what he is doing on a flat track to Sri Lanka. India/Sri Lanka would do better if they sent their players off to country cricket for practice. Imagine what the England series would have been for them if they had Lakmal/Pradeep take a year off and go to County Cricket circuit

  • Mark00 on October 27, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    Problem #1: Gym training. Gym training results in inconsistent muscle development and inferior supportive tissue development because each machine focuses on discrete muscle groups rather than on coordinated stresses between muscle groups. Gym training is great for body building but is counter-productive for athletic activity. Problem #2: Coaches. Coaches are usually people who have never been athletes and they attempt to analyze, break down, and recreate bowling actions (and batting techniques) by, again, seperating movements into discrete action components, which, like gym training, is damaging because this approach ignores the reality that bowling is coordinate action, not a series of discrete physical tasks. Problem #3: Modern food. Modern food is cheaper to produce due to modern farming and manufacturing science but it has less nutrition and an unprecedented amount of chemicals, hormones, and low grade oils which result in, among other things, weaker connective tissue.

  • subbass on October 27, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    Good article, I enjoyed that cheers !

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  • subbass on October 27, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    Good article, I enjoyed that cheers !

  • Mark00 on October 27, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    Problem #1: Gym training. Gym training results in inconsistent muscle development and inferior supportive tissue development because each machine focuses on discrete muscle groups rather than on coordinated stresses between muscle groups. Gym training is great for body building but is counter-productive for athletic activity. Problem #2: Coaches. Coaches are usually people who have never been athletes and they attempt to analyze, break down, and recreate bowling actions (and batting techniques) by, again, seperating movements into discrete action components, which, like gym training, is damaging because this approach ignores the reality that bowling is coordinate action, not a series of discrete physical tasks. Problem #3: Modern food. Modern food is cheaper to produce due to modern farming and manufacturing science but it has less nutrition and an unprecedented amount of chemicals, hormones, and low grade oils which result in, among other things, weaker connective tissue.

  • johnathonjosephs on October 27, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    There is some truth to what Richard Hadlee said, but Clive Rice hit it spot on. Fast bowlers today don't bowl as much balls as they did back in the day. Nobody even joins England's County Cricket anymore and instead aim for the "big Bash" and the "IPL" where they bowl 4 overs a MATCH if they are lucky. Saddest thing is, today's players, most of them play more Tests than first class matches. Look at all the great bowlers still left today and they all either played Country Cricket or are very experienced. Just to add.... Junaid Khan was one of the few youngsters who went to play County Cricket (he just got out) and look what he is doing on a flat track to Sri Lanka. India/Sri Lanka would do better if they sent their players off to country cricket for practice. Imagine what the England series would have been for them if they had Lakmal/Pradeep take a year off and go to County Cricket circuit

  • on October 27, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    why only WI,Aus and NZ representationin this discussion?

  • jonesy2 on October 27, 2011, 5:39 GMT

    now batting is more a concentration game, not so much talent. which is why english batsmen have been boring as to death of late.

  • hassan13 on October 27, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    a good contest between bat and ball is better quality cricket. Having the batsmen in permanent advantage for the sake of more sixes and fours is killing the game. Batsmen should have good technique to average highly. Nowadays any hack with hand eye will be a t20 superstar. Bring back the price of runs.

  • satish619chandar on October 27, 2011, 6:48 GMT

    Thats very well said.. Bowler should pick the format they want to play and then concentrate on it.. Especially pace bowlers.. You either practice mastering slow balls and yorkers or line and length and bowling with patience.. It is similar to batsmen.. Either you practice to hit ball into different areas(For shorter formats) or play text book technique cricket and leave good deliveries(For longer format).. For this to happen, the test players need to be paid a bit more so that the players can earn a bit more and fill their pocket.. This wont rush the players to go after the T20 leagues and hamper their body and bowling rhythm..

  • smalishah84 on October 27, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    great article. Wonderful to hear the views of some of the champion fast bowlers of bygone eras. Good to hear Andy Roberts speak of Pak fast bowlers :)

  • itisme on October 27, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    @mark00: you are spot on. In Problem#3 about the deficiencies of modern food, we must add GM food. Genetically modified food is bad for health and in fact it is dangerous and harmful to any human being. It is poison and everybody, not just sportspersons and athelets, must avoid GM food.

  • FatBoysCanBat on October 27, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    @Hussain Shah: Clive Rice is a South African, I guess that you thought he was a West Indian. He never played a test though so they probably should have found someone else, perhaps someone like Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram or Waqar Younis to get a Sub-continent perspective. @Mark00: Agree with everything you said mate.