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."