March 15, 2012

The quest for three bowlers

Forget replacing Dravid; if India can find three world-class Test bowlers instead, they'll do very well for themselves
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As a nation, India can't help but be driven by personalities. After the retirement of Rahul Dravid, everyone seems caught up in trying to find who his successor at No. 3 will be. For all you know, Indian cricket will never find anyone.

But you know what: it does not matter. If in the next two decades, India find three world-class bowlers instead, they may well win more matches than they have ever done; four batsmen averaging around 45 runs per innings and three bowlers averaging under 30, with a good strike rate, will win India plenty of Tests.

For the last decade or so India had four extraordinary batsmen playing for them at the same time. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid and VVS Laxman were undisputed stalwarts. (And don't forget Sourav Ganguly too.) They had outstanding records and their heroics did not come only at home. Laxman and Sehwag may have had a bad run of late overseas, but one should not forget that these two have played some great innings in other parts of the world. There have been very few instances in the history of Test cricket where a national team has boasted this kind of batting wealth at one time in a playing XI.

Having said this, why was India's Test record not as great as their strength in batting may have led one to expect? The obvious answer is that their bowling in that period has not been as rich as the batting.

India started to earn respect as a Test team when they began to post improved performances overseas after 2000, culminating in their becoming the No. 1 side in Test cricket. But even in their prime, India had never beaten Australia or South Africa away. The great No. 1 teams of the past who ruled world cricket for a length of time, like West Indies and Australia, went into the backyards of strong teams and hammered them in front of their home crowds. When you do this, you are not just ranked No. 1 in the computer rankings but also in the minds and hearts of the world's cricket followers. Australia and West Indies could do this because, along with good batting, they had terrific bowling attacks as well.

India will always have enough batting capital, and that is because Indians love to bat! I see this every time there are open trials held to select junior teams: the talent scouts ask the kids to form two groups, one for batsmen and the other for bowlers, and the batting group is always much bigger than the bowling one. India may not get replacements for the Dravids and Tendulkars, but because of this love for batting over bowling and fielding, there will always be decent batsmen coming through the ranks. Finding good bowlers is the challenge for India to stay at the top of world cricket.

It may seem like quite a hindrance, but it's not impossible for India to have three world-class bowlers playing at one time, like they had the four batsmen. And these need not necessarily be three fast bowlers; there could be a couple of spinners in there. Australia and South Africa are havens for fast bowlers, but after day three in a Test match - a critical stage - there is enough in their pitches too for a quality spinner to win a game for his side.

In overseas conditions, there is spin in the pitch - just not as readily available as in India. It has to be extracted, and for that there needs to be more "strength" behind every ball, which means the whole body has to go through the grind, not just the fingers and bowling arm

R Ashwin is a good recent example of an Indian spinner who did not quite make the same impact in Australia as he did at home, and that has been the general story, with a few exceptions, of Indian spinners overseas. When Nathan Lyon and Ashwin were seen together in the Adelaide Test match, it was clear to see that for those conditions Lyon was a better offspinner than Ashwin. In India, though, Ashwin will be in a completely different league and Lyon will watch in awe.

The important thing for Indian spinners to become effective in all conditions is for them to learn to use more than just their fingers and bowling arm. In overseas conditions there is spin in the pitch - just not as readily available as in India. It has to be extracted, and for that there needs to be more "strength" behind every ball, which means the whole body has to go through the grind, not just the fingers and bowling arm. To do this it also becomes imperative that you are strong and fit as a cricketer, with strong legs.

Any bowler can account for this need on his own by adopting a separate training programme for himself while playing in India. Playing stints in county cricket in England and local cricket in Australia will force him to do this as well.

It's no different for Indian seamers too. How often did we see in Australia a pitch that failed to respond to Indian seamers come alive when the big, strong Aussie bowlers had a go? Just running in and releasing the ball - which seems to be the natural style of many Indian seam bowlers - is not enough to get life out of foreign pitches, even though those are supposed to aid fast bowling.

While commentating for Sky Sports in England last year, I did a split-screen comparison of James Anderson and Sreesanth, both of whom rely more on seam movement than pace. The effort at the time of delivery that Anderson was putting behind his stock ball was clearly far greater than that of Sreesanth, who seemed to just run in and release the ball without straining too much.

Till Indian seamers do not get stronger and fitter, they will just not be able to put the amount of effort needed to find life in pitches that are not very lively. Even for a swing bowler bowling at 135kph, if there is a stronger body and a strong wrist behind the ball, the difference is magical. It's the difference between finding the edge and a batsman making a last-minute adjustment to play the ball with the middle of the bat.

Indian cricket needs someone to keep pushing bowlers to the next level, and frequent stints outside the subcontinent while not on international duty would really help. Granted, there are fewer kids in India who want to bowl, but let's be thankful there are some at least. India needs to make the most of them and give them more attention than ever. More than looking for the next No. 3, India need to begin their quest for three world-class bowlers instead. With Dravid gone, there is even more reason to.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on March 17, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    Indian lack of spin bowlers may be genetic. Watched a doci India apparently have the smallest amount of genetic devaiation of any polulation group over 100million. This is because of the isolation due to the mountains and a possible volcano that whiped out almost 90% of people in the subcontinent. Pakistan on the other hand have a lot more genetic variation due to all the wars and travel that have gone through the area. Same with South Africa which is a mish mash of all european peoples not to mention the genetic material from all the other races present and produce top pace men. West indies sad history of slavery reulted in only the very strongest surviving and allowed to reporoduce hence the tall fast bolwers.

    Just a theory.

  • teo. on March 17, 2012, 15:13 GMT

    Great article, and it seems to make alot of sense. The WI sides of old prided themselves on their bowlers probably more then their batsmen.. likewise, Aus had McGrath, Warne, Lee in their prime. SA now have Steyn, Morkel, Philander... England have some good bowlers, which is why these 2 teams are at the top of their games currently.

  • mlkt on March 17, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    yes it is for everone to see that our bowling has been of poor standards...but u have talked of stong arms and fitness...forgot about simple basic things of bowling good line and length....which our bowlers somehow never do....remember that zaheer first over in world cup 2003......our bowlers dont stick to basics.........secondly u r true that india should look to get good bowlers.....but WHO IS GOING TO DO IT?????? BCCI--- LOOKS TO ONLY MAKE MONEY FROM EVENTS LIKE IPL WHERE CROWDS COME TO SEE BIG HITTING BATTING...... SELECTORS--WE ALL KNOW WHAT A BIG BUNCH OF JOKERS THEY ARE......... PLAYERS----WHY WOULD THEY LOOK TO IMPROVE IF THEY R EARNING LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY FROM IPL BY DOING LITTLE HARD WORK.........AND ABOVE ALL FANS.....WE AS FANS ARE ALSO HAPPY TO SEE POWER HITTING IN IPL AND MAKE SUPERSTARS OUT OF THIS EVENT ONLY.......COACHES.....WHAT R THEY DOING??????????????

  • heartbreakerz on March 17, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    pak has constantly produced great fast bowlers lyk sarfaraz, imran, wasim, waqar, shoaib, asif, aamir etc...and d pitch conditions in pak are similar to india....i dun undrstnd y india cant produce even one quality fast bowler....maybe bcoz in india nobody wants 2 be a fast bowler...evry1 just want 2 bat...but in pakistan evry kid wants to become imran, wasim, waqar and shoaib...etc

  • Pane on March 16, 2012, 18:48 GMT

    India Loose against Bangladesh despite a Century of CENTURIES from 10dolkar.What a Humilation,they only play for money and personal quests not for their country. Go home and play some matches against Aghanistan,Ireland and other associates to get some form

  • on March 16, 2012, 15:23 GMT

    once i thought Pathan, Ishanth, sreesanth will evolve into world class test bowlers but it didnt!!!! we should develop pitches suitable for fast bowlers.

  • on March 16, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    Neither Lyon nor Ashwin were effective as bowlers. All the balls looked straight, they hardly spun the ball. Ishant Sharma is clearly not a test class bowler, cant seam or swing so took very few wickets even in pace friendly conditions in England & Oz. No point blaming Irfan's lack of pace if neither Zaheer nor Praveen hardly ever clear 135 km. Zak's 1st ball every over is 128 km. The great hopes are Aaron & Yadav. The no 3 has already been found, obviously it's Kohli.

  • arvindsrin on March 16, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    One thing that gets completely missed out is that the mentoring of Indian fast bowlers is extremely poor unlike in Pakistan in the Imran and to some extent Akram days. We saw that with Srinath and Zaheer who took seven-eight years to learn to bowl the right length and now we see that with Ishant. Ishant bowled very well in England in the first two tests and in patches in the first couple of tests in Australia.However, he consistently bowled to fields that were not set to his strengths. A predominantly inswing bowler cant be bowling to the same field as an outswing bowler. The other fundamental issue is whether the Indian bowlers are amenable to being coached at alll. We hear the clinical way in which the Australian bowlers executed Mcdermott's plan and this when he has just now taken over. We find no improvement or steady deterioration in the Indian bowlers and them having no plan B at all.

  • stormy16 on March 16, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    I think the PITCH is the single biggest factor (wonder what they prepare in Pakistan though!) as bowling captain tends to use the fast bowler to get the shine off and then operate with the spinner as the focul point of the attack. Looking for seam movement or bounc is not really an option if there isnt any so you dont develop the skills to extract it even when its available which is why I beleive in Eng, the Indian seamers looked pop-gun compared to the English. The best example of my point is Philander from SA. This is not a big fast bowler who bowls at 145+ and bounces you out or swings it both ways. He has crafted seam movement to the highest level. He has mastered the skill of extracting what is available because the conditions were condusive for him to master these skills.

  • getsetgopk on March 16, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Three world class fast bowlers of the quality of lets say wasim, waqar and shoaib, as a cricket fan if India can find such bowlers would be amazing but looks like a distant dream and the other thing that India is a batting country or Indians prefer better batsmen over better bowlers is a no brainer, Wasim Akram is as popular and admired in India just as he is in Pakistan, imagine if wasim Akram was from India he would have been worshiped over there in India.

  • on March 17, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    Indian lack of spin bowlers may be genetic. Watched a doci India apparently have the smallest amount of genetic devaiation of any polulation group over 100million. This is because of the isolation due to the mountains and a possible volcano that whiped out almost 90% of people in the subcontinent. Pakistan on the other hand have a lot more genetic variation due to all the wars and travel that have gone through the area. Same with South Africa which is a mish mash of all european peoples not to mention the genetic material from all the other races present and produce top pace men. West indies sad history of slavery reulted in only the very strongest surviving and allowed to reporoduce hence the tall fast bolwers.

    Just a theory.

  • teo. on March 17, 2012, 15:13 GMT

    Great article, and it seems to make alot of sense. The WI sides of old prided themselves on their bowlers probably more then their batsmen.. likewise, Aus had McGrath, Warne, Lee in their prime. SA now have Steyn, Morkel, Philander... England have some good bowlers, which is why these 2 teams are at the top of their games currently.

  • mlkt on March 17, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    yes it is for everone to see that our bowling has been of poor standards...but u have talked of stong arms and fitness...forgot about simple basic things of bowling good line and length....which our bowlers somehow never do....remember that zaheer first over in world cup 2003......our bowlers dont stick to basics.........secondly u r true that india should look to get good bowlers.....but WHO IS GOING TO DO IT?????? BCCI--- LOOKS TO ONLY MAKE MONEY FROM EVENTS LIKE IPL WHERE CROWDS COME TO SEE BIG HITTING BATTING...... SELECTORS--WE ALL KNOW WHAT A BIG BUNCH OF JOKERS THEY ARE......... PLAYERS----WHY WOULD THEY LOOK TO IMPROVE IF THEY R EARNING LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY FROM IPL BY DOING LITTLE HARD WORK.........AND ABOVE ALL FANS.....WE AS FANS ARE ALSO HAPPY TO SEE POWER HITTING IN IPL AND MAKE SUPERSTARS OUT OF THIS EVENT ONLY.......COACHES.....WHAT R THEY DOING??????????????

  • heartbreakerz on March 17, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    pak has constantly produced great fast bowlers lyk sarfaraz, imran, wasim, waqar, shoaib, asif, aamir etc...and d pitch conditions in pak are similar to india....i dun undrstnd y india cant produce even one quality fast bowler....maybe bcoz in india nobody wants 2 be a fast bowler...evry1 just want 2 bat...but in pakistan evry kid wants to become imran, wasim, waqar and shoaib...etc

  • Pane on March 16, 2012, 18:48 GMT

    India Loose against Bangladesh despite a Century of CENTURIES from 10dolkar.What a Humilation,they only play for money and personal quests not for their country. Go home and play some matches against Aghanistan,Ireland and other associates to get some form

  • on March 16, 2012, 15:23 GMT

    once i thought Pathan, Ishanth, sreesanth will evolve into world class test bowlers but it didnt!!!! we should develop pitches suitable for fast bowlers.

  • on March 16, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    Neither Lyon nor Ashwin were effective as bowlers. All the balls looked straight, they hardly spun the ball. Ishant Sharma is clearly not a test class bowler, cant seam or swing so took very few wickets even in pace friendly conditions in England & Oz. No point blaming Irfan's lack of pace if neither Zaheer nor Praveen hardly ever clear 135 km. Zak's 1st ball every over is 128 km. The great hopes are Aaron & Yadav. The no 3 has already been found, obviously it's Kohli.

  • arvindsrin on March 16, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    One thing that gets completely missed out is that the mentoring of Indian fast bowlers is extremely poor unlike in Pakistan in the Imran and to some extent Akram days. We saw that with Srinath and Zaheer who took seven-eight years to learn to bowl the right length and now we see that with Ishant. Ishant bowled very well in England in the first two tests and in patches in the first couple of tests in Australia.However, he consistently bowled to fields that were not set to his strengths. A predominantly inswing bowler cant be bowling to the same field as an outswing bowler. The other fundamental issue is whether the Indian bowlers are amenable to being coached at alll. We hear the clinical way in which the Australian bowlers executed Mcdermott's plan and this when he has just now taken over. We find no improvement or steady deterioration in the Indian bowlers and them having no plan B at all.

  • stormy16 on March 16, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    I think the PITCH is the single biggest factor (wonder what they prepare in Pakistan though!) as bowling captain tends to use the fast bowler to get the shine off and then operate with the spinner as the focul point of the attack. Looking for seam movement or bounc is not really an option if there isnt any so you dont develop the skills to extract it even when its available which is why I beleive in Eng, the Indian seamers looked pop-gun compared to the English. The best example of my point is Philander from SA. This is not a big fast bowler who bowls at 145+ and bounces you out or swings it both ways. He has crafted seam movement to the highest level. He has mastered the skill of extracting what is available because the conditions were condusive for him to master these skills.

  • getsetgopk on March 16, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Three world class fast bowlers of the quality of lets say wasim, waqar and shoaib, as a cricket fan if India can find such bowlers would be amazing but looks like a distant dream and the other thing that India is a batting country or Indians prefer better batsmen over better bowlers is a no brainer, Wasim Akram is as popular and admired in India just as he is in Pakistan, imagine if wasim Akram was from India he would have been worshiped over there in India.

  • on March 16, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    Hey Sanjay! I am in total agreement with you - We need three World Class Test Bowlers... Also when we play overseas, especially - England, Australia, West Indies & New Zealand, we should play three genuine openers! In fact, we should invite World Class players like Ricky Ponting and so on to play for India and they would find - How difficult it is to play against their bowlers in their conditions, Huh! on lighter side....

  • on March 16, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    To unearth bowlers give them the environ to bowl. You produce shirt fronts as wickets and expect bowlers it is not going to happen.

    Prepare responsive wickets from school, club,league, zone levels and then see the difference.

    All curators are trashed like scavengers and no proper treatment and no value being given for their work then how will you get responsive wickets. First check whether you are remunerating those poor souls, properly.

    This is a collective decision not only the board but all regional and state boards and all the levels of cricket which come under them.

  • PrakashES on March 16, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    Sanjay, you are spot on. Experts come out with various theories to explain India's poor performance against England & Australia. Some like Ian Chappel view it as a chance to put forward his pet theories and thus he blames Dhoni's captaincy and the presence of Sachin Tendulkar in the team. Others blame the BCCI for not preparing bouncy pitches at home or not having proper coaching programs. Ultimately all we need is 3 good strike bowlers, be it spinners or fast bowlers, and that would make all the difference. It is amazing how Pakistan always produces match winning bowlers and India cannot do so. I can understand the superior fitness levels and training regimen of players from Aus, Eng, SA, WI and NZ but Pakistanis are similar to Indians in most respects. So it is inexplicable why India can't produce good bowlers but Pak can do so easily. It is amazing how Pakistan just throws up these match winning bowlers inspite of the turmoil in their country and PCB's mis-management.

  • csowmi7 on March 16, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    I disagree with Sanjay's comments. Lyon only took wickets in Adelaide and was terrible in the other matches. He took like what 5 wickets the whole series. Ashwin took more wickets than Lyon throughout the series and was much better than Ishant Sharma. I think 9 wickets in 3 matches is not that bad compared to Sharma who did nothing in Australia and at home against WI. And dont forget Ashwin was awesome on debut at home and tore apart WI. Give this guy a break. He scores a century and takes 22 wickets in his debut series and people are still criticizing him? Harbhajan has been terrible in Australia also averaging close to 100.

  • Nigah on March 16, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Its idealism all Indian kids follow Tendulker, Drived & Sehwag, but here in Pakistan our kids follow Imran, Akram, W.Younis etc we don't have any Tendulker and the Indian kids don't have any Wasim Akram therefore Indian lacking the great bowlers. Its my humble opinion sorry if someone disagree with this.

  • ARad on March 16, 2012, 1:29 GMT

    The thing that SM hasn't mentioned in this otherwise well-observed article is the PITCH. As long as there is no interest in developing pitches that assists fast bowlers, the fast bowlers will develop a style that is suitable for playing a game of attrition which may not always work well against world class international batsmen. Why would any fast bowler put in the hard work if they are not seeing any positive income?

  • on March 15, 2012, 22:25 GMT

    well said sanjay. hope someone in the BCCI reads this blog or hope some other giant takes over BCCI who is interested in bowling

  • on March 15, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    It is all very well to talk about bowlers - but remember Even the world's best bowlers need support on the field - Prasanna & Venkat will tell you what Solkar at Forward Shortleg meant to them...Pollock & Donald will tell you what Jonty meant at Gully to them..... In contrast, the Indian seamers will tell you what it meant for them to suffer Dravid at 1st slip in England (Dropped a few catches, the bowlers took the flack for runs they conceded & then, Dravid offset part of the losses with a 100 !)...impact of Dravid's drops in the 1st 2 tests - what could have been 2-2 became 0-4. Worse - Srikanth & co. want the oldies who can't bowl, can't field, bat only against mediocre bowling of late to continue for as long as they like. There is no talk about terminating the service of players who were brilliant last year but no-good today on performance grounds, just because they have friends in media ? What is the message Srikanth is sending to youngsters ?

  • ikingkk on March 15, 2012, 18:28 GMT

    very well said. particularly liked " In overseas conditions there is spin in the pitch - just not as readily available as in India. It has to be extracted, and for that there needs to be more "strength" behind every ball, which means the whole body has to go through the grind, not just the fingers and bowling arm. To do this it also becomes imperative that you are strong and fit as a cricketer, with strong legs."

  • on March 15, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    @ Its Rachit- Here is an answer to your question. You ask how many times Ganguly or Laxman has performed outside subcontinent. Here are some glittering examples-

    1) ganguly- Hundred on debut at lords followed by another hundred at Trentbridge, 70 odd in the 2nd inns on a difficult pitch at port of spain which helped India to a narrow win, their 1st in the west Indies after almost 30 years. A hundred in teh 2nd inns at headingly against england in 2002 which helped India to an innigns win, 51 at Durban in the 1st Inns in 2006 which again proved to be a decisive contribution in a low scoring test, 79 on a swinging pitch at trent bridge in 2007 which contributed immensely to an Indian win.

    2) laxman- Crucial half centuries against west Indies (Port of spain,2002), Australia (Perth, 2008) and South Africa (Durban, 2010) all of which resulted in victories for India. A hundred in the 1st Innigns at adelaide 2003 to help India to a win.

  • muski on March 15, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    Well Sanjay- For once I would love to quote Greg Chappel and state that " Getting fit sportsmen is not a part of the general Indian culture". Blame that on our food habits. Remember Srinath was once the fastest Vegetarian bowler going around. International Sports be it Cricket or Tennis or Athletics requires exceptional stamina which is related to a regimented food diet. Can you call a guy like Ashwin Athletic by any standards.Certainly not. Same is true of a Munaf Patel or RP Singh or Ashish Nehra. So what are we talking of? The future of Indian bowling. Who? Where? When?

  • itsTIME4ELImination on March 15, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    If Sanjay want's it, he'll go to lengths of modifying the Indian genome. The next article would be, "How to change the Indian genome" Woah, just chill out. Points for trying hard though.

  • GoCho on March 15, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    If the Chappel brothers had said something on similar lines, I am sure the comments section would have been flooded with people recalling India's test wins in the last decade, what bad coaches they make etc. What a funny bunch we Indian fans are!! People keep demanding better pitches but it is not in our 'culture' to stand upto BCCI and boycott IPL and matches that are played on dead wickets.

  • Harshwal on March 15, 2012, 16:06 GMT

    so first of al selecter gives chance to bowler more then batsman so that they can show thier abilitiy........

  • on March 15, 2012, 15:49 GMT

    The reason Ashwin is picked over Ojha is that Ojha, unfortunately, doesn't play for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL :( Dhoni should be kicked out of captaincy and the team :)

  • on March 15, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    I think India can do a study on how Pakistan manages to produce a flurry of great bowlers. The conditions are very much similar. Does the diet have a role? And various such factors can be looked into...

  • ameetsk on March 15, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    Its very easy to sit back and write articles like this one. Why don't people like Sanjay Manjrekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri take it upon themselves to do something to improve Indian cricket rather than write articles or give free advice through their commentary - which by the way is pretty ordinary to say the least since they just state the obvious. They will not because they can make a ton of money through their current assignments. If you read Sanjay's recent columns, there is always a hidden agenda geared towards the big 3 or big 4 being slow or playing for personal records and all that...never have these 3 said anything against BCCI who is responsible for the state of Indian cricket...they are interested in making money...money comes through TV rights and people will watch if there are high scoring games...result is flat tracks...where is the motivation for anyone to choose bowling over batting!!! Guess how many bowlers hit a jackpot in IPL compared to batsmen!!

  • CaughtAndBowled on March 15, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    >>When Nathan Lyon and Ashwin were seen together in the Adelaide Test >>match, it was clear to see that for those conditions Lyon was a better >>offspinner than Ashwin.

    Thats because Lyon was bowling to Indian batsman but Ashwin was bowling to Australian batsmen.

  • RThumma on March 15, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    Very nice nd timely article.

  • on March 15, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    When talking about spinners, India only takes Ashwin whenever needed. You are forgetting Pragyan Ojha, who has performed better than Ashwin in Tests. And he will be a better option in overseas unlike Ashwin. It has already been proved from his mind-blowing and excellent performance in the English County Season while playing for Surrey. He single-handedly won matches for the team and took one 10 wicket haul and two 5-wicket haul in the final 4 matches of the Championship which Surrey ultimately won with a best figure of 6-8 in 18.2 overs. But he was not given a single chance in Australia or England. This was very unfair for him. Its really killing real talents because of biased selection. Ashwin is good bowler, but u should not forget others.

  • Rohanbandekar on March 15, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    Well said Sanjay! You always come up with valid points. Fitness is such an important thing in cricket. Strong legs make u feel good when you bat. To be a top class bowler I'd say physical and mental fitness are as much important as the talent.

  • cricfanraj on March 15, 2012, 12:36 GMT

    Absolutely spot on.Cannot agree more. To win the tests we need really good bowlers if not great. None of the bowlers qualify for that group. May be Zaheer to some extent but others just not there. Since we don't have any great bowler ( Like Styne) we must have 3 good pace bowlers. You cannot have weak links like Ishant where pressure is released from one end. Umesh showed some promise but it needs consistent performance. Spinners less said is better. Forget about good these are not even average spinners. Only average spinner we have is Ojha. Others are not fit for test cricket. Last thing never choose a bowler for WRONG reason. Don't select Irphan over Umesh Yadav or Ashwin over Ojha because they can BAT. Select a bowler to take wickets and batsmen to make runs.

  • A.Ak on March 15, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    Valid points. Indian pace bowlers failing to put effort in delivering the ball (see Srinath and Kapil - on how much effort they put) and they are also lagging in preparation, physically. They look vulnerable. Zaheer looks strong, thats why he was good. Umesh looks good too. But look at others. They need more work. Also pace is not the main skill they need, accuracy is what made McGrath. For batsman, look at Dravid, nearly 40, but still physically as good as he was 10 years ago. All the players playing for their country are good players. But the hard work and effort is what made good player in to a great player, like Dravid.

  • Percy_Fender on March 15, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    I am not sure Sanjay Manjrekar is correct in his assessment. I say this because Prasanna,Bedi Kapil,Prabhakar and Srinath were all successful on their first trips down under. Even Rusi Surti was brilliant as an all rounder on his maiden trip there.On the other habd,Kumble was not very successful on his first trip and Harbhajan was just reasonable. Kumble was a great success on his second visit when he took 24 wickets in the three Tests that he played. Surely I believe that they would have been bowling as they were used to not like the robots that Sanjay wouls have us believe are needed to succeed in Australia. I feel that to succeed in Australia a bowler has to bowl at a certain length,on a certain line, and to a certain field placement. I remember Saqlain Mushtaq was unplayable even on his first trip. I wish people would write things which cannot be disputed. In any case now we have an Oz bowling coach. So I suppose we will be able to generate such bowlers in the future.

  • Sayd_Firstslip on March 15, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    Zaheer is the only bowler of India who has shown the improvement in his career rahter than fading out.

  • on March 15, 2012, 11:00 GMT

    Zaheer maybe our only good bowler yet Ashwin is catching his tail. I mean Irfan can come back and replace Isant Sharma.

  • on March 15, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    To be brutally frank: Over the past 50 years, India have produced no more than five or six world-class bowlers - Bedi, Prasanna, Venkataraghvan, Chandrasekar Kumble and Kapil Dev. Five spinners and ONE fast/fast-medium bowler. As other countries, and in particular Pakistan, keep churning out great pace bowlers, Indian indifference to their predicament is nothing short of astonishing. Make no mistake, India would never have gotten to the #1 position had it not been for a temporary Australian weakness that coincided with Dravid's final purple patch. Without a strong attack meaning one that is able to take 20 wickets per match OUTSIDE the subcontinent, India will forever remain the bridesmaids of World cricket.

  • on March 15, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Well said Sanjay. One instance of the poor quality of our bowlers is the Sydney test where even our strike bowler (Zaheer) failed to make a breakthrough. It is high time BCCI focus on improving the quality of our bowlers (both Spin and pace attack) and also batsmen. It should take measures like having tougher playing conditions in the domestic circuit, having frequent A tours to countries like Australia, South Africa and England, fitness etc. On the other hand, BCCI is busy indulging in lucrative activities.

  • S.Jagernath on March 15, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    The next problem India has is their pitches,they usually use the excuse that their pitches just offer a different challenge.They actually offer no challenge,they do not turn often or bounce at all.They should not produce green surfaces,as that is not their strength but should produce pitches that turn & bounce.At First-Class level there must be a variety of pitches ranging from green surfaces to dusty pitches.Producing pitches that are batsmen friendly hinders the growth of quality bowlers as well as quality batsmen.India needs to value their first class cricket more,the IPL makes plenty of profit & it should be used to improve cricket infrastructure to encourage large crowds at first class cricket,as well as good pitches being produced.

  • S.Jagernath on March 15, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    Batsmen like Ajinkya Rahane & Cheteshwar Pujara,who are both 24 & clearly the two Indian top order are going to rely on,should have completed atleast half a season of county cricket each but the both have very little experience & are now expected to perform like Rahul Dravid.The IPL ends in April,so that leaves a decent window for county cricket this year before the next test match.Rahane & Pujara need to make the effort.On the bowling side,Dhawal Kulkarni,Umesh Yadav,Iqbal Abdulla & Varun Aaron are young,talented cricketers who should also be sent to England to increase their fitness & build strong bowling technique.India will never dominate a quality team away from home as they lack the mental strength for test cricket.Technique is next factor,looking at the players that are playing the Asia Cup,that is another factor India lack.Suresh Raina,Rohit Sharma,Ravindra Jadeja & Vinay Kumar are all cricketers that are not actually world class.

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on March 15, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    look at bowlers like james anderson , broad , siddle , ravi rampaul these guys have improved consistently with time , unlike our Indian bowlers.. i think the problem is with indian pitches and our fitness and strength

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on March 15, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    The problem is not that india cannot produce fast bowlers , yes we can produce quality bowlers but somehow all of them just fade out with time rather than improve , may be its our lack of fitness or may be its the lifeless flat tracks in india which makes fast bowling an exercise in futile.. bowlers like sreesanth , munaf patel , irfan etc were genuine talents when they arrived at international scene , fast forward a few years and sree is still that unpolished inconsistent talent , munaf has changed beyond recognition , irfan is just an average medium pacer , ishant is so predictable and ineffective...

  • Rambo2008 on March 15, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    We need to have a pitch metric that qualifies pitches on a scale of 1-10 1 being a dust bowl and 10 being a hardtop. Player performances should be weighted performance on scores and wickets that the games are played on. Unless we do that no domestic association will risk their players futures where grounds with green tops will have batsmen avg 25 and you have a ahd or kanpur where ppl average 65 and similarly with bowlers. It's surely not a complicated system of judging player performance objectively, by adding a few more parameters on speed, degree of spin etc. Calls for investment, but that is no problem is it? Surely, doable in a game where we have 'duckworth-lewis' for rain rules..

  • ooper_cut on March 15, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    I am not sure Sanjay Manjrekar is the right person to talk about bowling, he wasn't so good at his own skill either.

  • on March 15, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    Dear Sanjay..you have hit the bull-eye. Cricket played with a simplest logic : 'An average batsman can play well against an avarage bowler but, an excellent batsman faces difficulties against an excellent bowler'. All Indian overseas victories, appart from good batting, witnessed ocassional brust of spririted and excellent bowling. You may have a luxury of having four Tendulkers in your national team but that may result with more draws (or loss), but having 4 Glenn McGraths in one team would definitely bring more wins. Average Teat batsman like Raina will also would be a national hero if Indian team would have 2 genuine Fast bowler who can hit the decks with seam and pace with 145 Kmh and two genuine spinner who can spell their web in any pitch arround the world. In a nutshell, 'Bowers wins the match'..!!

  • on March 15, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    You know, grooming a college of bowlers like Yadav, Sreesanth, Aaron and Dinda should be the way forward. Messers Kumar and Kumar(Praveen and Vinay) are more useful in ODI's and T20's. Irfan however should be and needs to be looked at as the bowling allrounder Indian team so dearly needs- as you third or fourth seamer(depending on team composition) and basically as your fifth bowling option. With his swing back and a proven batting technique, he should be encouraged to do that role. But Sreesanth and Ishant should strictly be told to concerntrate on test match bowling if they have to resurrect their careers, esp Sreesanth who is still among the best swing bowlers in the world, and still has age on his side.

  • yoogi on March 15, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    IPL is not conducive for fast bowling because there the bowlers are not given a decent spell at all. From word go it is about containing runs and not picking wickets. Ranji is a diffrent story. Too many bowlers from 27 states and sub-standard matches & pitches spoil the chance to develop the right talent. A test championship in the IPL size and talent pool will be the best option. Just extend the same franchise pattern to domestic compettition and give them away to willing coroporates or as a freebie to IPL teams. Thats still a bonus good will for IPL owners and good for talent nurturing as well.

  • cric2012fan on March 15, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    Two points: 1: T20 and one-dayers will make test cricket just something talking heads want to talk about because they can't live in this age and earn the big bucks that the up and comers are making. 2: It's always easy to sit on the sidelines and critique. It's interesting that Umesh Yadav is not mentioned in the mix nor Irfan Pathan, who made a good impression (though had a hard time getting selected to the playing eleven at times in Australia). Physical fitness is really important and I really believe BCCI is wrecking careers by basically 'killing the goose that laid the golden eggs' for them, by completely overwhelming the players physically through year-round competitive matches.

  • on March 15, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    Erm Sanjay, the bottomline of what you tell us is something all of us already know! Bowling has never been India's strength traditionally. And that will remain our weakness until drastic steps are taken. Which are never taken in India..!!

  • Vpx23 on March 15, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    ABSOLUTE!..Spot On Sanjay! Can we get somebody to work on short listing a few Strong lads...'IMRAN STYLE'...

  • HPurnapatre on March 15, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    Very accurate appraisal of the situation, Sanjay! Apart from Zaheer, we do not have any world class bowlers. The pitches in India need to be made more sporting, but having said that, how come does Pakistan manage to produce so many good fast bowlers (despite similar pitches)? A good bowler should be successful in all conditions.

  • on March 15, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    i think the biggest problem with indian cricket is that it doesnt understand the importance of getting the balance between batting, bowling and fielding right.a one sided, batting friendly environment in domestic cricket has led to incomplete players. you cant defeat aus in aus with incomplete players. the reason why every cricket expert is calling dravid EXCEPTIONAL is that he was complete. why are indian players generally incomplete??"answer is playing conditions. where is the need for batsmen to work on technique when they can just plant their front foot forward, play through the line and get runs. even mistimed shots go for 4s. how would bowlers learn to avoid bowling one poor bowl every over when even good ones are getting dispatched easily??cricket should be run on the principle"you get what you deserve". this can happen only when the balance between batting, bowling and fielding is right. big grounds, fair pitches and reasonably quick outfields is the answer.

  • Bravvooo on March 15, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    Easier said than done Mr.Sanjay...

  • AB99 on March 15, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    Well said .. lest he forget some of India's most successful test bowlers - Zaheer 285+ wickets, Srinath 240+ wickets, Harbhajjan 400+ wickets, Kumble 630+ wickets played for a large part of their careers with the fab five which helped India reach the top. The media (Sanjay included) have not highlighted their role to get more kids into bowling but have spent all their time in talking of batting of the fab five and now the newcomers ... Come on Sanjay - praise these bowlers as well. Are you ready to take over as the coach of Team India?

  • SamRoy on March 15, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    Rahul Sharma looks like a young Kumble who imparts more spin on the ball. Ashwin is all right as a bowling all rounder. Needs more experiance with the red kookaburra. Yadav is very promising but needs to experiment less with line and length and more with inswing. He is the fastest Indian bowler since Nissar (before independence) and let's hope he doesn't lose his pace for the next 5 years. Ojha is steady but needs to use variations of spin like Vettori. And for God's sake will somebody pick Abu Nechim for the Indian team? Ishant Sharma needs at least two seasons of county cricket. If he doesn't improve then dump him and never select him again. India has the talent but currently all are young raw bowlers. They still have a long way to go if they are going to become the finished product (i.e. world class bowlers. Remember Zaheer took a long time.)

  • on March 15, 2012, 6:22 GMT

    Nice analysis ......................................................

  • its.rachit on March 15, 2012, 6:15 GMT

    i did not even need to read the article to guess what SM has written ... yes the bowling is weak and yes the batsmen have outstanding statistics ... but how often has sehwag or laxman or ganguly performed outside the subcontinent ... laxman did well only in australia ... and let us not forget that the defeats in the 2 recent tours were batting failures ... the bowling did not do well but it did not fail miserably ... batting needs a complete overhaul ... dravid has gone, so almost 30% of our batting outside the subcontinent has gone ... sachin is the rest 30% and he will go soon ... the rest 40% is sehwag, gambhir, laxman and kohli ... laxman will go before sachin ... and it is becoming increasingly obvious that gambhir and sehwag cannot perform when the ball is moving around ... so that leaves us with Kohli .. talented no doubt, but not there to lead the batting ... so while we are at it, let us find 3 batsmen as well ....

  • Meety on March 15, 2012, 6:05 GMT

    When the WIndies went into decline, they remained competitive whilst ever they had Ambrose & Walsh, (sure there was some bloke named Lara too). IMO - quality bowlers win the matches, India did well in Oz in the recent past, because apart from batting well, they had Kumble (great spinner) & Harbhajan (good spinner), + their back up bowlers did what they were suppose to. == == == The Wall won't be replaced easily, up until the last couple of years, he was arguably India's greatest slipsmen too. India really need to have a look past Ashwin (IMO), as his fielding for a young bloke was very poor.

  • timus6778 on March 15, 2012, 6:03 GMT

    last line is perfect,...with dravid gone, there is even more reason to.

  • JohnnyRook on March 15, 2012, 5:11 GMT

    I think Indian bowlers can only be called "slow bowlers". Thats because our fast bowlers don't bowl fast and our spinners don't spin the ball as much as others. For past few years, India batting lineup was great. So we used to draw most matches and in those rare matches bowlers performed too, we used to win, Thus winning the series albeit not very emphatically. However now our batting lineup is old and their replacements barring Kohli are nowhere close to be good enough. So we are losing like crazy. However our bowling continues to be as trashy as ever. In batting at least we have some names who may come good later on. But in bowling especially fast bowling, we don't have anybody and it is not surprising. If my kid wants to play cricket, I wouldn't want him to be a fast bowler because it is such a thankless job in India. Just think Ravinder Jadeja's IPL bid is more than twice as Zaheer Khan's. Munaf Patel & Nehra are dropped randomly despite great world cup perfs and there is no furor.

  • on March 15, 2012, 5:09 GMT

    absolutely correct form sanjay.. Indian bowlers does not put any effort and they are really poor in fitness...something need to be done about this....may be a chapel kind of training is needed for Indian bowlers.....

  • bobagorof on March 15, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    "There have been very few instances in the history of Test cricket where a national team has boasted this kind of batting wealth at one time in a playing XI". I think you'll find that there are quite a few instances - Australia c. 2001-2005, WI in the late 70's/early80s, England and Australia just after WW2, Australia in the early 70's. India itself started putting together it's current batting lineup back in 1996, with Azhar, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid. But the central point of needing bowlers is valid - batting can save a match but won't win it for you. For the past 2 decades the Indian side has only included one pace bowler worth his spot (first Srinath, then Khan) and consequently struggled outside India. Kumble and Harbhajan at their peak were a real threat, but also were much less effective away. Their most promising period was around 2001-02, with Srinath and Khan supported by bowlers like Prasad, Agarkar and Nehra in their prime.

  • satchander on March 15, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    A good article overall and the only point I disagree was on the comparison that Sanjay tried to bring out between Lyon and Aswhin - I simply don't think Lyon was any better than Ashwin even in aus conditions. However, one doubt which I always had got cleared - how come our bowlers were not able to make much impact when compared to eng/aus bowlers during eng/aus tours. I used to think same pitch - same conditions - how come Hilfenhaus/Anderson gets 4 or 5 wickets and Ishant/Sreesanth 0 or 1. I knew it had to be difference in skill but by reading Sanjay's assessments I feel it's more to do with the power behind the skills you execute. Hope the current and next crop of bowlers can be made fitter but given India's lackadaisical attitude towards fitness, it would probably remain a distant dream.

  • IndianInnerEdge on March 15, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    Whilst you are @ it SM, might as well as add india need couple of good slip fielders, couple of good inner circle fielders, couple of good outfielders who can hare round the boundary & have their throws reaching the WK, basically fielders with intensity. The solution does go back to the quality of indian pitches, low bouncing slow turners which do nothing to encourage a young kid to bowl quick, & also does not breed good slip fielders. In a way, am happy that the recent losses and the media hype on the batting legends retirements will throw some spotlight on breeding good bowlers especially pacemen. I donot think any other country evern has had so many bowlers who started their careers bowling quick-145+ eg-Munaf, RP, Ishant, sreesanth, Agarkar, Irfan, balaj, prasad, VRV singh, Pankaj singh nehra etc and in a short span of 2-3 years became the sort of medium pace trundlers that used to once straddle the english scene. Batsmen save matches, can set up victories, bowlers win them...

  • smalishah84 on March 15, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    another well written piece by Sanjay. I do agree that you need bowlers to win you test matches. Also that India's big 4 were arguably the finest middle order ever assembled but they lacked the bowlers

  • on March 15, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    Good article Sanjay. Dravid would have not just covered other bats man, he along with Fab four had covered up for weak bowling unit for many years now. Apart from Zaheer is there any other bowler who has been in international cricket for 10 years in India now?

  • Nadeem1976 on March 15, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    Awesome Sanjay . Your judgement is awesome. When a person from sub continent will right about sub continent he will explain in details what is wrong.

    If India can play with two good bowlers they can win more matches than before. Wasim and Waqar used to get lots of wickets. But when it came Shoaib Akhtar he was alone and did not have help.

    India need to exceptionally good bowlers to fill the hole created by Dravid retirement and in near future all of 4 greats retirement.

    But Sanjay who is going to bend his back for 20 years on these dead pitches in India. No body. BCCI should make fast bowling friendly wickets to promote fast bowling in India otherwise you will never get a great bowler. If you do get he will be injured in three years. Sad.

  • Woody111 on March 15, 2012, 2:53 GMT

    Very valid points here from Sanjay. The gulf between England and Aus in the Ashes was England's unrelenting bowling pressure which Aus could not absorb with the bat nor replicate with the ball. Taking 20 wickets is imperative and India couldn't do it against Aus this summer. Granted few Indian batsmen built on their starts but Aus' lower order were barely required as India couldn't scythe through the top AND middle order. In Yadav and Ashwin there is some promise but compare these guys to Swan, Anderson and Broad and it's like comparing international with county/state/province players. Zaheer can't carry the attack alone; especially when there's no spinner at the other end keeping up pressure. Sanjay is right in that there will always be plenty of batsmen in India; they are better off focussing on developing their bowling attack.

  • cricconnossieur on March 15, 2012, 2:37 GMT

    Spot on Sanjay !! How do we do that ?!! What is the NCA doing ? What happened to the MRF pace academy ? I beg to differ slightly on issue--Sourav Ganguly was never a great batsman, he was just good and the stats prove that. If you esp look at the quality of runs he scored.

  • on March 15, 2012, 2:33 GMT

    Memo to BCCI 1.Get A tours to Australia,England and Newzealand. Play 50 matches a year. Select three batsman for each position who performs in these tours for each of test,oneday and twenty twenty. Cost of arranging these wont exceed 50-100 million and for BCCI this is the supply chain. 2.Dont try to change indian pitches.Rather go overseas and play Ranji quarters onwards with the Australian,South African and league teams. 3.Select 50 bowlers and get them rated by fitness and category.Give them all contracts and categorize them into test,one day and twenty twenty.Create an Bowling strategy team for the next 2 years and they should be distinct for each tours. 4.Ensure parity of payments by ensuring test players are not getting into twenty twenty and getting injured and not available for tours.Ensure player contract and renumeration is related to playing in melbourne and durban and not in rajkot and kochi. 5.Finally select selectors with merit. Not because they are ex players.

  • Busie1979 on March 15, 2012, 2:29 GMT

    India need less dust bowls, and more fast bowling pitches so that fast bowlers can learn how to attack, and bastman can learn how to play quality fast bowling. One big advantage for Australia is the variety of pitches available in first class cricket. Players play on bouncy pitches (eg. WACA, Gabba), a spin freindly wicket (SCG), slower and lower pitches (Adelaide Oval, MCG) and a seaming pitch with NZ/England like conditions (Bellerive Oval). This variety produces more well rounded cricketers. The only real vulnerability for Australian cricketers is that there are no dust bowls in Australia, but with IPL these conditions are becoming less foreign all the time. I can't imagine India producing a quality fast bowling attack without the right kind of pitches being in place.

  • on March 15, 2012, 2:17 GMT

    Sometimes, I find Sanjay Manjrekar going a touch overboard with his 'trenchant' observations. This one hit the spot! Test cricket, by and large has a general rule - batsmen set up matches; tall scores - grinding the opposition to dust. But bowlers win matches. You have an attack which can pretty much take the pitch out of equation, take 20 wkts, you are in good hands. The WI and Australian world beating team did that, over and over. Give them a dustbowl - their key spinner - Lance Gibbs, Shane Warne, - will step up. Pacers would bowl ramrod straight with extra pace - Holding (Edgbaston), Marshall (Headingley), Kasprowicz (Bangalore). Give them swinging conditions, or true bouncy wickets, they'd alter lengths and lines to make it count. The closest any team had was Pakistan around 1999-2000, when Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib and Saqlain could extract a win on any pitch. Until that, we'd continue to look for "safe" scores to declare ..

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  • on March 15, 2012, 2:17 GMT

    Sometimes, I find Sanjay Manjrekar going a touch overboard with his 'trenchant' observations. This one hit the spot! Test cricket, by and large has a general rule - batsmen set up matches; tall scores - grinding the opposition to dust. But bowlers win matches. You have an attack which can pretty much take the pitch out of equation, take 20 wkts, you are in good hands. The WI and Australian world beating team did that, over and over. Give them a dustbowl - their key spinner - Lance Gibbs, Shane Warne, - will step up. Pacers would bowl ramrod straight with extra pace - Holding (Edgbaston), Marshall (Headingley), Kasprowicz (Bangalore). Give them swinging conditions, or true bouncy wickets, they'd alter lengths and lines to make it count. The closest any team had was Pakistan around 1999-2000, when Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib and Saqlain could extract a win on any pitch. Until that, we'd continue to look for "safe" scores to declare ..

  • Busie1979 on March 15, 2012, 2:29 GMT

    India need less dust bowls, and more fast bowling pitches so that fast bowlers can learn how to attack, and bastman can learn how to play quality fast bowling. One big advantage for Australia is the variety of pitches available in first class cricket. Players play on bouncy pitches (eg. WACA, Gabba), a spin freindly wicket (SCG), slower and lower pitches (Adelaide Oval, MCG) and a seaming pitch with NZ/England like conditions (Bellerive Oval). This variety produces more well rounded cricketers. The only real vulnerability for Australian cricketers is that there are no dust bowls in Australia, but with IPL these conditions are becoming less foreign all the time. I can't imagine India producing a quality fast bowling attack without the right kind of pitches being in place.

  • on March 15, 2012, 2:33 GMT

    Memo to BCCI 1.Get A tours to Australia,England and Newzealand. Play 50 matches a year. Select three batsman for each position who performs in these tours for each of test,oneday and twenty twenty. Cost of arranging these wont exceed 50-100 million and for BCCI this is the supply chain. 2.Dont try to change indian pitches.Rather go overseas and play Ranji quarters onwards with the Australian,South African and league teams. 3.Select 50 bowlers and get them rated by fitness and category.Give them all contracts and categorize them into test,one day and twenty twenty.Create an Bowling strategy team for the next 2 years and they should be distinct for each tours. 4.Ensure parity of payments by ensuring test players are not getting into twenty twenty and getting injured and not available for tours.Ensure player contract and renumeration is related to playing in melbourne and durban and not in rajkot and kochi. 5.Finally select selectors with merit. Not because they are ex players.

  • cricconnossieur on March 15, 2012, 2:37 GMT

    Spot on Sanjay !! How do we do that ?!! What is the NCA doing ? What happened to the MRF pace academy ? I beg to differ slightly on issue--Sourav Ganguly was never a great batsman, he was just good and the stats prove that. If you esp look at the quality of runs he scored.

  • Woody111 on March 15, 2012, 2:53 GMT

    Very valid points here from Sanjay. The gulf between England and Aus in the Ashes was England's unrelenting bowling pressure which Aus could not absorb with the bat nor replicate with the ball. Taking 20 wickets is imperative and India couldn't do it against Aus this summer. Granted few Indian batsmen built on their starts but Aus' lower order were barely required as India couldn't scythe through the top AND middle order. In Yadav and Ashwin there is some promise but compare these guys to Swan, Anderson and Broad and it's like comparing international with county/state/province players. Zaheer can't carry the attack alone; especially when there's no spinner at the other end keeping up pressure. Sanjay is right in that there will always be plenty of batsmen in India; they are better off focussing on developing their bowling attack.

  • Nadeem1976 on March 15, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    Awesome Sanjay . Your judgement is awesome. When a person from sub continent will right about sub continent he will explain in details what is wrong.

    If India can play with two good bowlers they can win more matches than before. Wasim and Waqar used to get lots of wickets. But when it came Shoaib Akhtar he was alone and did not have help.

    India need to exceptionally good bowlers to fill the hole created by Dravid retirement and in near future all of 4 greats retirement.

    But Sanjay who is going to bend his back for 20 years on these dead pitches in India. No body. BCCI should make fast bowling friendly wickets to promote fast bowling in India otherwise you will never get a great bowler. If you do get he will be injured in three years. Sad.

  • on March 15, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    Good article Sanjay. Dravid would have not just covered other bats man, he along with Fab four had covered up for weak bowling unit for many years now. Apart from Zaheer is there any other bowler who has been in international cricket for 10 years in India now?

  • smalishah84 on March 15, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    another well written piece by Sanjay. I do agree that you need bowlers to win you test matches. Also that India's big 4 were arguably the finest middle order ever assembled but they lacked the bowlers

  • IndianInnerEdge on March 15, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    Whilst you are @ it SM, might as well as add india need couple of good slip fielders, couple of good inner circle fielders, couple of good outfielders who can hare round the boundary & have their throws reaching the WK, basically fielders with intensity. The solution does go back to the quality of indian pitches, low bouncing slow turners which do nothing to encourage a young kid to bowl quick, & also does not breed good slip fielders. In a way, am happy that the recent losses and the media hype on the batting legends retirements will throw some spotlight on breeding good bowlers especially pacemen. I donot think any other country evern has had so many bowlers who started their careers bowling quick-145+ eg-Munaf, RP, Ishant, sreesanth, Agarkar, Irfan, balaj, prasad, VRV singh, Pankaj singh nehra etc and in a short span of 2-3 years became the sort of medium pace trundlers that used to once straddle the english scene. Batsmen save matches, can set up victories, bowlers win them...

  • satchander on March 15, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    A good article overall and the only point I disagree was on the comparison that Sanjay tried to bring out between Lyon and Aswhin - I simply don't think Lyon was any better than Ashwin even in aus conditions. However, one doubt which I always had got cleared - how come our bowlers were not able to make much impact when compared to eng/aus bowlers during eng/aus tours. I used to think same pitch - same conditions - how come Hilfenhaus/Anderson gets 4 or 5 wickets and Ishant/Sreesanth 0 or 1. I knew it had to be difference in skill but by reading Sanjay's assessments I feel it's more to do with the power behind the skills you execute. Hope the current and next crop of bowlers can be made fitter but given India's lackadaisical attitude towards fitness, it would probably remain a distant dream.