India in West Indies 2011 June 15, 2011

Munaf's 'spin' sparks debate over need for speed

ESPNcricinfo staff

Comments from Andy Roberts' that Munaf Patel had lost his pace and was "spinning the ball" have sparked a debate, with Javagal Srinath, among others, saying that Munaf was "doing the job" that was required of him.

"The question of pace doesn't matter as long he is being effective," Srinath told the Hindustan Times. "Also, there is this aspect of conserving energy. I think Munaf has done extremely well of late."

Roberts, the former West Indies fast bowler had expressed surprise at the tendency of young Indian fast bowlers to cut down on their pace as they play more international cricket.

His comments were made in reference to Munaf Patel, who is India's second highest wicket-taker in the current ODI series against West Indies, and Ishant Sharma, who played for the first time in the series in the fourth game.

"When he [Munaf] came to the West Indies in 2006, he was quick," Roberts said. "But now, he is spinning the ball. Ishant Sharma with his height and action was very promising when he began, but now he seems to have lost steam.

Srinath indicated that fast bowling has become a matter of "adaptability" these days. "There are various formats, pitches and conditions. In Twenty 20, it's a question of containment. What's the point in going flat out on placid pitches?

"By cutting down on pace as and when required, bowlers have become smarter these days. Still, you can't overlook the fact that Munaf has been taking wickets despite reducing pace," he said.

Munaf, who has played 65 ODIs for India, has picked up 30 wickets in 16 games this year at an average of just above 23, which is well below his career average of 28.86, and has picked up eight wickets from three games in this series.

India's bowling coach Eric Simons, described Munaf as the "unsung" hero of India's World Cup victory, saying the high degree of technical skills that India's bowling attack possessed made up for its lack of express pace all through the tournament. Munaf was India's third-highest wicket-taker in the World Cup behind Zaheer and Yuvraj Singh with 11 victims.

Former India allrounder Irfan Pathan also suffered from a drop in pace after his international debut and Roberts, who worked briefly with Pathan during Greg Chappell's tenure as India coach, felt such issues cropped up only after the players made their international debuts. "One has to remember this happens only once they make it to international arena. Maybe the players are better off without these coaches.

"These coaches turn you into line-and-length bowler. Not what you naturally are. These boys then lose their ability."

Roger Binny, the former India allrounder, said cutting down on pace had "worked" for Munaf. "His line and length has improved and he has bowled some crucial spells for India. What would you prefer, a wayward fast bowler or a slower one who gets you wickets."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • varun on June 16, 2011, 15:20 GMT

    Guys - calm down. As pointed out by 'mits6' - his comments were plain n simple - nothing provocative. Extract from the interview with K Shriniwas Rao of TOI. He is blaming the ICC and the boards for the standard of pitches - not munaf patel. "The Antiguan legend blames the International Cricket Council for reducing cricket to a spinner's game. "Look at your Munaf Patel. Even he is spinning the ball these days," says Roberts. In his opinion, the fast bowler is dead and buried and cricket, therefore, is ruled only by the batsman."

  • Binoj on June 16, 2011, 15:19 GMT

    Aina Maria Waseem said, "But as a Pakistani I find it strange that ALL your pacers have bad enough fitness to reduce speed so early in their careers, that too when they were hardly Shoaib AKhtar to begin with." Aina, having seen Munaf bowl in 2003 & 2004 domestic series, I can tell you he used to bowl consistently above 145kmph with atleast one delivery which clocked 150kmph in an over. But he was wayward most of times and line and length was far worse than it is now. But in 2005 he had his first breakdown. Just writing this for your information.

  • Rahul on June 16, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    @ Aina Maria Waseem What you need to understand that there is a huge difference between physique and body structure of indian and pakistani fast bowlers. Look at Sreenath and Prasad and then have a look at Wasim and Waqar for example. Thats why what you lack in physical ability can be made up with the precision in line and length. I am sure if a Shoaib is born in india, no one will ask him to reduce his pace and ball line and length like Munaf.

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2011, 6:25 GMT

    we have no problem until he is getting us wickets and helping us to be world champions he has understood his bowling and this robert should look at his westindian fast bowlers before even talking about the world champions and if he was spinning the bowl would he bowl in 130s and praveen kumar somesaid spins the bowl have u seen how much he gets the bowl to swing

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    @Asis Rout : Frankly, 46 tests over 14 years at that speed and mostly match winning or saving performances, is good enough for me. Sami is an exception in Pakistan. Asif is a magician, I doubt there will be many like him. Aamir was fast and highly accurate. We know of quite a few exciting new talents we can't wait to see. SHoaib was head and shoulders above Tait. The wayward Wahab Riaz still gets wickets because he is fast and the few he DOESN'T misdirect... Remember Yuvraj at Mohali. @cric_fanatics: Exactly who wants a Tait? Yes Shoaib didn't play but one of our worst bowlers Wahab Riaz was sufficient that day. Frankly, its no credit to bowlers to make Pakistan collapse. We choose the worst bowlers in the side to bless with our wickets. @Karn Mamgain: And I am so glad my country doesn't have only one decent bowler. I'd like to see other countries managing the loss of the world's best pace attack, with the world's worst batting, better than us, our spinners rising to the occasion.

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    @all indians: A fast bowler CAN bowl line and length, AND swing the ball. Case-in-point, Shoaib Akhtar. Not that Wasim and Waqar were slow, especially to begin with. @shankar: Point taken. But as a Pakistani I find it strange that ALL your pacers have bad enough fitness to reduce speed so early in their careers, that too when they were hardly Shoaib AKhtar to begin with. @vswami: We don't need a speed gun to tell us the west indian pace battery was very very fast. @Sehwagologist: Yes Shoaib missed most of Pakistan's matches due to fitness, but post wasim/waqar, Pakistan had a much better win/loss ratio in Tests he played compared to those he didn't. He was NOT our only bowler. We didn't need him in ODIs but we did in tests. He had IMPACT. And comparing him to the legendary sultans of reverse is like comparing apples to oranges.

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2011, 2:37 GMT

    @Anand Khan - Have you gone crazy? Praveen spinning the ball? Have you seen the INSANE amount of swing he gets? Clearly, you don't follow Indian cricket, and it's better to not comment on it if you don't follow it. Praveen is as much of a spin bowler as Glenn McGrath. Even the great Wasim Akram dropped in pace, but he gained orders of magnitude more in control and technique. Of course, you can't compare him with anyone, but Zaheer operates in a similar fashion. You can't get three maidens in a row in a WC final is you are not a good pace bowler. Again, going back to Munna, he gets the job done and that's what matters. In the game vs Australia I remember Munna bowled at 138 kmph - Steyn's business speed. Well, I'm glad that his age isn't stuck at 17 and he doesn't bowl no ball - if you know what I mean.

  • Brij on June 16, 2011, 0:23 GMT

    In the past, there wasnt lot of cricket played and how much ever cricket was played was with too less protection for a batsman. So the fear of facing fast bowlers was more in the past. But today its a totally different scenario. Looking at what happened to fast bowlers like Bond, Lee, Malinga and most of all Tait who even retired from one-day cricket to concentrate on 20-20's....with the amount of cricket being played, the money being offered by the BCCI to its players and ofcourse the IPL, who will not want to have a long career?

  • Dummy4 on June 15, 2011, 23:54 GMT

    Well i am a Pakistani but fan of Indian batting, but i cant understand from my childhood till now that why India not produce a single genuine pace bowler in all cricket history (genuine pace bowler means 90mph average) until unless in 100 millions why they cant pickup a single genuine quick. Disaster is that the bowler who quick day by day drop his pace (Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Munaf patel and zaheer khan). In our country we have so much passion about bowl quick to grass root level.As in the above artical roberts say Munaf spining the ball its lietrally hell "yes" he do cutters and slower ones as often some times i sense he is spinner like Paraveen Kumar also a well known spinners ooops !!! sorry a so called ""Medium fast bowler"". well if india got some quick talent then might be india will rule this decay on cricket world..

  • Balaji on June 15, 2011, 20:55 GMT

    Andy Roberts made this comment in the context of Indian bowlers losing pace. He did not spare the West Indies either. He was rated by many as the best pace bowler of his generation. Old timers in India still talk of his spell at Chepauk in 1974. Anyway the pace bowler has become an endangered community the world over.

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