Pakistan News July 20, 2010

Fast bowlers at risk - Imran Khan

Cricinfo staff

Pakistan great Imran Khan has said he's concerned the sheer volume of international cricket is putting unprecedented stress on fast bowlers, and suggested doing away with one-day cricket to ensure quick bowlers don't go "the way of the dinosaurs."

"Maybe we should eliminate 50-over cricket and just have Twenty20 cricket and Test cricket," Imran said while giving the annual Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's on Monday."The stress on fast bowlers is incredible. But cricket without fast bowling is never going to be the same standard if a batsman doesn't test himself against fast bowling.

"I saw Shaun Tait bowl in the Twenty20s and I thought an alien had come in -- you suddenly saw batsmen hopping about."

Tait is one of the world's few bowlers with extreme pace but he has not played Test cricket since 2007, and retired from the first-class game in 2008 to prolong his career. He has repeatedly said the the rigours of the longer format are too much for his body and that he can only play limited-overs cricket.

The 57-year-old Imran watched Pakistan lose to Australia by 150 runs in the first of their two-Test series, and said Shahid Afridi is the perfect example of a talented cricketer who can thrive in Twenty20 cricket, but struggles in Test cricket.

"The only test of a cricketer is the Test match because his talent and technique is tested. In Twenty20, if you are very talented you can get away with it, but a good Twenty20 cricketer will not necessarily excel in Test cricket."

Following the loss to Australia, Shahid Afridi announced his retirement from Test cricket after a solitary game as Pakistan captain.

Imran, who led Pakistan during their high-intensity battles with the mighty West Indies sides in the 1980s, also said the standard of Test cricket has dropped over the years. "I don't believe Test cricket is the same standard as before," he said. However, he thinks the level of officiating has improved immensely since he played, and that technology will only help it get better. Imran was among those who championed the introduction of neutral umpires.

"The spirit of the game suffered while I was playing. There was a lot of acrimony in the games and when India played against Pakistan. It deteriorated to depths you cannot imagine. Neutral umpires have changed everything, technology has eliminated so many of the controversies and results are much fairer now. I think it should improve further with the use of technology."