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Time Out with Harsha Bhogle
'Fear of injury is affecting Indian fast bowlers'
May 21, 2010
Sreesanth and Paras Mhambrey speak to Harsha Bhogle and Ayaz Memon about the problems Indian fast bowlers face
 
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Ishant Sharma bowls in the nets, Kingston, June 24, 2009
Ishant Sharma: a problem with the wrist position? © Associated Press
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Harsha Bhogle: On this programme we are going to look at the vexed issue of fast bowling. Why is it that the tide comes in and the tide goes out so often in Indian cricket? At the moment the tide is going out as there are no fast bowlers. We are going to talk to a very seasoned watcher of Indian cricket over the years, Ayaz Memon. Also, someone who is a very interesting person, because he played for India in the mid- to late nineties as a swing bowler, and then went and coached a lot of very good first-class teams, has also coached a Twenty20 side... we are going to talk to Paras Mhambrey. Later on in the programme we are going to be joined by Sreesanth. So today's show is all about fast bowling, and of course, towards the end of the programme we will get S Rajesh in to tell us a few things about how the fast bowlers did in ICC World Twenty20.

In the context of all that's happened in the ICC World Twenty20, everyone's asking: where are the fast bowlers and what's the problem with the fast bowlers? We don't seem to have a problem with the bowlers coming in, there only seems to be a problem after they get in. Paras, is there a crisis?

Paras Mhambrey: Yes, I think so, to a certain extent. There was a stage a few years back where you had a lot of options to choose from. Bowlers were in top form, everyone was at their peak. But if you look at it right now, you have to find who is going to make it to the team. I think to a certain extent there is a little bit of a crisis because we haven't really followed up on what has happened to the players. Purely looking at it from an injury point of view, if a player it out of the team because of an injury then I think we need to monitor after a while. What went wrong with him? What is the progress? What is he upto? I think the board should come into the picture along with the NCA and say: these are the six bowlers we are looking at, who had particular injuries a few months back, and get them back to the NCA. Keep following their progress. There should be a monitoring system which features all the bowlers, to find out what is really gone wrong, and that is very important.

HB: Just to take that point further, Ayaz, I made a little shortlist, and I'm sure there will be more. Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, RP Singh, I think that troika was really our future. For someone of our generation, it reminds me a lot of L Sivaramakrishnan and Maninder Singh, when they first came together. But apart from that, Zaheer Khan has always been around. Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel; Manpreet Gony, who had a good IPL first year; L Balaji, who came back from an injury; Dhawal Kulkarni, who went on a tour; Sudeep Tyagi, Ranadeb Bose, Pankaj Singh… that's more bowlers than you had in 30 years. Why is this happening in your view? They all have been tried, and then you go to the ICC World Twenty20 and you didn't have more than two or three bowlers to pick.

Ayaz Memon: You are right, Harsha. We had a problem of plenty, and now we have a problem. It seems to me to be partly what Paras has mentioned: they all have been injury-prone - fast bowlers have been across the world, and not just Indian fast bowlers, because of the volume of the cricket being played, the rigours, the toll it takes on the body.

I just feel that the Indian bowlers have become more susceptible. I think over a period of time what has also been emerging is that the first season they bowl really quick, the next season they just seem to kind of fade away. Maybe they are getting into wrong practices or wrong habits, maybe self-preservation is becoming paramount over improving on skills and fitness. But it's befuddling that you had a dozen bowlers, all of whom looked extremely promising at the international level, and now you are struggling to find two or three.

HB: Paras, you see a lot of domestic cricket. Ishant came with a bang and then he went away. Sreesanth came with a bang and he was gone, RP Singh was the leading wicket-taker in the first World Twenty20, Irfan came in 2004... why are these people suddenly fading off? Is it only injury or is it that they are not as good as we think they are?

PM: I think one part is injury. The other part is, if you look at the couple of names that you've taken, anybody who knows about the game will tell you that there is a little bit of a technical issue out here. That was overlooked because of their peak form. As a bowler, I can tell you that when you are in form, bowling in a rhythm, some of the flaws get neglected. But when you are not doing well after a while, it will catch up with you. If you are technically fine then you will sustain for longer, but if not then it will catch up with you and then you start looking at options. That's when people wash their hands off you. "He is not bowling well, what has happened? He has lost pace."

There were certain issues that we neglected early on, at a younger age. Had they been rectified then, the progress of the cricket would have been more consistent and on a plateau. I think that is one area which was a little neglected at times. If you see Ishant, Irfan, there are technical issues that needed to be worked on.

The other point: as a cricketer, when are you in that peak form, you are very cautious when people come and tell you certain things. You say, "I am bowling well, and there is nothing wrong with my bowling. If I change anything then I might lose my bowling."

When a player goes for rectification, there will be a time when there will be a drop in the performance, in the bowling. But once you get the hang of it, once you get the feel of it then there will be a graph which goes up. And they should be able to maintain that.

HB: But why do they get injured so often? Let me come to Ayaz: Bowling too much? Or the other view, which people like Wasim Akram throw up: that they are not bowling enough?

AM: Both could be true, and it would differ from individual to individual. I personally feel, this is my take, and I'm not an expert on this, that there is perhaps a case of over-training, excessive work in the gym, whatever else, which is not, therefore, focusing too much on rhythm. Playing cricket is so much a game of rhythm - it's not just about looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

HB: Paras, that's an interesting debate that a lot of people have had. Do our bowlers bowl too little? Are they trying to get too fit? I must qualify that, because you are looking about twice the size you were since I last saw you - not fat but muscular.

PM: I think you want to sustain, you want to push your career a little longer. When you are playing at the international level there is so much at stake at that level that you want to preserve your body and you want to extend your career.

Yes, to a certain extent I think these bowlers are not bowling enough. In my playing days, when I was 18-19, we used to bowl for 40-45 minutes, and even if I was tired I couldn't go to my coach and say that I was tired. Else he gets an impression that I was unfit. So we would end up bowling quite a lot. And I do think that bowlers need to bowl quite a lot.

 
 
"As a cricketer, when are you in that peak form, you are very cautious when people come and tell you certain things. You say, 'I am bowling well, and there is nothing wrong with my bowling. If I change anything then I might lose my bowling.'" Paras Mhambrey
 

Fitness is an issue. Gym is important. It is known universally that we are genetically not strong, so we need to work harder on our game and our fitness. But I think there should be a proper balance. Eventually it's what you do on the ground. You've got to bowl, you've got to know your body very well, and you've got to take a call when you are not there at your fittest - you've got to be very open and say, "I am not fit."

I have been coaching state sides - bowlers come after half an hour, or after 35-40 balls, and say that they are okay, they are happy. So I think it's an individual call; every individual knows how much he can push himself. And you've got to do that at the younger level, by bowling a lot. The bowling muscles are only going to develop when you bowl a lot in the nets.

HB: Javagal Srinath told me once that when you have a shoulder injury, as he did, and you keep bowling, you try and protect the shoulder, and as a result you end up using different muscles, which are not used to the workload. But there is an interesting trend that is coming through, Ayaz. Bowlers are now saying: we only play 20-overs cricket. There is now a trend - Dirk Nannes plays only 20-overs cricket, Shaun Tait plays only 20-overs cricket, Albie Morkel is probably not getting selected for anything other than 20-overs cricket. Will people say, "Why should I bother maintaining my body and bowl 20 overs a day, I will just play 20-overs cricket… "

AM: Yes, there is a danger. Nannes is a prime example, by choice. For Albie Morkel it may not be out of choice but because there is no place for him. And because it's so lucrative, you might actually opt for it as a career, the shortest version of the game. Therefore, I don't need to get to a Test-match mindset at all, finding form, rhythm, fitness and whatever else. As the game evolves, perhaps you might get two or three sets of players.

HB: Paras, let's take one specific example and that's Ishant Sharma. You coach at first-class level, where you have got to coach people to bowl 20 overs in a day, and now you are also coaching a Twenty20 side. Ishant was quick when he started. Do you think there is that problem, that playing too much Twenty20 cricket, fear of being hit, changes you as a bowler? Does playing different formats affect a bowler?

PM: I don't think it really matters. You still have to get out and bowl in areas, and that happens in the five-day game too. Yes, you bowl more in a five-day Test match than in Twenty20. I don't really see that it's an issue. You still have to bowl in areas.

HB: Correct. One of the things that we enjoyed at the ICC World Twenty20, largely because of the wickets, was that a Dale Steyn was still a very good bowler. To a lesser extent, Mitchell Johnson was still a good bowler. Kemar Roach still made people hop around. But what happened with Ishant?

PM: Ishant, I think there is a technical thing that needs to be rectified. I might be wrong but I suspect we need to work on his wrist position. Looking at him, I don't think he is strong enough to take that workload. He has bowled a lot, a lot of bowling at a very young age. I think physically you've got to be in a position to sustain that. You've got to have strong leg muscles, fantastic strength in your core, which is very important, plus wrist position, if you look at it technically. So all that effort he puts in at the last minute, if he goes wrong there will be a problem in bowling those areas consistently and getting success out there. Also, I don't think he is strong enough to hold his muscles, hold his delivery stride for that much longer. There is a technical issue out there, he knows about it, and I am sure he is working on it.

There needs to be a solution where he has to be off the game. You cannot work on certain skills playing at the international level and then coming back in the nets. It will not happen. You've got to be off the game for a while, work on the skills, get ready and then hit the international level. At the international level, your first ball can be six; there is too much at stake at that level. You can work on it in nets, but you will still go back and do the same thing because there is too much at stake.

HB: At the domestic level are the bowlers good enough? Is the transition up almost too difficult to make? Is that why when they first come in, they make a little bit of impact but don't have the staying power?

PM: Yes, the quality of fast bowlers at the domestic level is not as good as it used to be. You have a couple of them in a handful of teams.

The issue should be addressed by the respective associations. One year you have a good bunch of spinners, you only focus on that, saying that this is my mainstay, I don't have fast bowler options, that can come later, and so I am going to focus on spinners, those are the people who are going to win me the games. So I start preparing my wickets according to that. It all boils down to what I have on hand. Not many people are focused on issues. If you look at domestic cricket now, forget fast bowlers, you don't see good spinners. That's the issue that needs to be addressed. If I don't have good fast bowlers in the team, then the association should perhaps organise a camp for fast bowlers, scout for fast bowlers, keep them in the ranks for a six-month or eight-month training period and only then are you going to get results.

HB: There is a hidden aspect to this all, and I think it is that Zaheer has shored up India's bowling. Zaheer is also someone who rediscovered himself. I wonder whether Zaheer's story needs to be told to everybody else. He came back the old-fashioned way. He just bowled and bowled in the county cricket.

AM: Yes, his stint [in county cricket] in 2007, if I remember correctly, was really helpful. I remember I met him on the flight back from England, just before the World Twenty20. And he said, "This stint has been my best learning experience. It has helped me realise my limitations, my strengths, the potential of my own body." I think that's very important, and that's why he is made the spearhead by whoever is in charge of the Indian team, and is asked to guide the other bowlers.

But Harsha, to extend this argument, I think we are now in a situation in Indian cricket where it's become symptomatic, whether it is fast bowlers or spinners - we don't know where our bowlers going to come from and what's happening to them…

HB: And where they are going to go. They are going faster than they come...

AM: And where are they going to go. So suddenly you have six or seven spinners and then you have none. You have a dozen fast bowlers and then you have one. So there seems to be a serious issue about how we address our bowlers. I think Paras has perhaps indicated what needs to be done, how to mentor, how to nurture.


Sreesanth with the match ball, India v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Kanpur, 4th day, November 27, 2009
Sreesanth: "When you play for the country, you don't think about anything else but the love for the game and the pride. If you have a mentor or someone is looking out for you, you are all right" © AFP
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The two leading fast-bowling countries now, playing international cricket, are Australia and England. England by a process of time and hard focus have come up with a few bowlers. Australia have traditionally had terrific fast bowlers, and they really nurture their bowlers. Even a guy like Mitchell Johnson, who went through a little bit of a down-swing was shored up. And then they found Doug Bollinger, who has come in and done well. I mean, they are really taking care of their bowling attack, because ultimately it's the bowlers who win you matches.

HB: Also, there are numbers. Peter Siddle came up, he goes off. There is still Mitchell Johnson around, there is Dirk Nannes, there is Bollinger, Ryan Harris… they are all coming along.

I remember when I did an interview Glenn McGrath some years ago, and in fact he said the same thing a few months ago when I met him. He said, "The two things I know about myself is my action and my body, and those are the two most important things for me."

So do our youngsters know their bodies enough? The reason I ask you this is, Zaheer says that he understood his body after coming out of the injury. Javagal Srinath says he understood his body after coming out the injury. Do they need to understand their bodies a little more at the start?

PM: Yes, I think it's very important. You only know how much you can push your body when you actually push it. I think that's the stage when you realise it. Playing county cricket is damn hard. They aren't looking at where you are from, what you have done, how much cricket you have played - it's all about what you do in the four or five months of cricket that you are going to play for them. They expect you to perform each and every game, play each and every game and win each and every game. So eventually you play so much that you really know how much you can push yourself, what level your fitness is, what level you need to take your body to.

I think the young bowlers out in India are not pushed to that level in domestic cricket. An average score in a day is about 250-300, and if you see the amount of overs each individual bowler bowled, it would be 20-25 overs per match, and that is not enough. I don't think that really tests you.

And the second thing is the speed gun. Everyone is focusing on how quick he is bowling. You start pushing yourself to the limit, and you really don't know how much you can push. It's also about the subconscious mind, and that's why McGrath is great. I think his action is such that every day, every ball he has bowled is similar. There is nothing different. So you need to know your action subconsciously, and that only comes after lot of bowling. You work on certain things, and subconsciously you register: this is not fine, this is fine, this works for me and this doesn't work for me.

HB: We talk about England and Australia, Ayaz, but most people I speak to in India, that I have met, look not that far west to England but just one country west. And say, why are fast bowlers coming from there? Suddenly we see Mohammed Aamer - I don't know how old he is but that's irrelevant - a year into playing international cricket, he is leader of the attack, already.

AM: That's true. It's interesting to know that when we went into Test cricket in 1932, we had Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh. So there was a certain area of this country which produced fast bowlers. Both of them came from Punjab…

HB: But the slowest bowlers are coming from Punjab now. All these big fellows run in and bowl medium pace.

PM: Yes, but we had about 12 or 18 fast bowlers, and some of them came from the deep south, which was unthinkable in the old days.

AM: Exactly. I think we have got a pretty good spread. It's just that we need to find out why they are not able to sustain their form and fitness. Breakdowns will happen, inevitably. It's happening for Australian bowlers, English bowlers and for South African bowlers. But how quickly do they recover? Do they come back as good or better? How fast do they improve? At the age of 28 and 30, Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan - they should be at their peak now, while they are actually nowhere in the reckoning for a place in the team.

HB: A lot of people tell me that Irfan Pathan has lost his swing, and it baffles me because you go to a college and you see a left-armer swinging the ball into the right-hander. How come at international level you suddenly cannot swing the ball back into the right-hander anymore? I mean, he does, not that he never does, but he has become someone who slants the ball towards third man, which he never did.

PM: I think the time when Irfan Pathan came into the picture, he was at his peak rhythm. He was running in nicely, hitting the deck hard, swinging it. There was this issue then as well, if you looked at his action then. Someone should have told him, "Right, now it's fine but a couple of years down the line this will become an issue. If you want to extend your career to six or eight years of international cricket then these are the changes that you really need to do right now."

That's where the individual comes in. This is where you say, "Am I going to take that chance?" There is so much at stake. Your contract says that if you are out of cricket for six months or eight months, you are not eligible. So there are so many things that work at the international level. Secondly, once you go out you are not sure that you are going to be picked again. So [it helps] if I get backing from BCCI saying it's okay if you are out of cricket, we want you to work on certain aspects, but you are very much in the picture and you will make a comeback.

When a particular bowler goes off, and he doesn't really know whether he is going to make it to the side or not - say someone like Ashish Nehra, the IPL really got him back in the fold. He was out, he was bowling, he was back injured, but he came back because of the IPL.

That's one worry everyone goes through - "Am I going to make it." So if there is a policy where the BCCI comes into it and assures the player that they will look into it. It allows the player to work on his game for four months or five months, and he is assured that he will be given an opportunity. So I am at ease as a cricketer, and a bowler. I know I'm going to be looked after, because if I don't make it ... for some it's [a question of] income. It could curtail my career - as a bowler it's a short career, and if I lose a couple of years of my career - that's the question I am looking at.

HB: We can keep talking about this Paras, but thank you very much. And hopefully you can go down and unearth a few bowlers for us, because at the moment they are going faster than they are coming.

Sreesanth on challenges for Indian fast bowlers

HB: Let's move on to someone who has seen the ups and downs of Indian cricket. Sreesanth joins us.

We've been talking to Paras a fair bit about the development of fast bowlers in India. You've played a fair bit of domestic cricket, and seen the highs of international cricket. How much of a difference is it moving from domestic to international cricket for a young fast bowler?

Sreesanth: It's a bit difficult. If you're playing the subcontinent it's a little easier because you've actually played at the Ranji Trophy level. To cope with the international standards of batsmen, especially with most of them who don't play in the domestic circuit, it's tough for youngsters to come in and do their job. It takes a lot of patience and hard work to make a strong impact in the international circuit straight from the domestic circuit.

I've been damn lucky. I remember the first series we played was against England in India. I was lucky enough to bowl on an Indian track and then go abroad

 
 
"My advice is if you go to the gym, make sure you have a swimming session the same day because it gives you flexibility, and you won't be stiff. The core strength is more important than the upper body or muscle groups to have what is called 'effortless pace'" Sreesanth
 

HB: Why is it that a lot of young bowlers come in season one and look very quick but slowly begin to drop pace? We've seen that with a lot of Indian fast bowlers. Why do they start to drop pace as they go along?

Sreesanth: I don't know. Maybe the bowlers are planning to play in the long term, maybe 10 to 15 years instead of doing the job that is given to you. I think that is the main reason. Maybe it's the fear of injury. It's always better to give your best every single day. I think that may be the reason - trying to conserve your energy for the next game than giving your best today.

AM: Is there too much pressure on young fast bowlers now? We've seen a plethora of fast bowlers who have come for India but have found it difficult to retain their places in the side.

Sreesanth: Honestly, you need to be performing rather than complaining. There is stress and there is pressure, especially when you play in Indian conditions. The last one-day game I played was in Ahmedabad, Abhimanyu Mithin and Sudeep Tyagi were also in that game. It's actually tough to get on and start performing. It's a challenge for a fast bowler, especially in the Powerplay of a one-day game, but you must endure those stressful moments.

HB: Do a lot of young fast bowlers know this? I told Paras about this line that came from McGrath. Do enough fast bowlers in India know their body well enough, and actions well enough? A good action is one you can replicate again and again, but for that you must know your body.

Sreesanth: Now we've got so many matches happening so if they should make it a habit. If you make it a habit, it's very easy to adjust to different conditions and all you have to do is keep doing the same thing again and again.

HB: Everyone talks about focus. Is focus an issue? It's a criticism that has been occasionally levelled at you as well; that sometimes young fast bowlers get success very quickly and sometimes they tend to focus on the success than what got them there in the first place.

Sreesanth: Focus is surely important, but again everyone lives their own personal life as well. As long as he knows the thin line between foolishness and bravery, that is very important. When you play for the country, you don't think about anything else but the love for the game and the pride. If you have a mentor or someone is looking out for you, with so much of money and entertainment involved, if there is one coach or family member, who actually keeps an eye on the player, and if the player is ready to listen to them, you are all right. If you are talented and hardworking, nothing should bother you except the game.

HB: For a young fast bowler in India, what's more important? Do they spend too much time in the gym? Should they spend less time in the gym and bowl more? What do you recommend?

Sreesanth: This is something my team-mates ask me, why I spend so much time in the gym. The gym is very important, strength is surely important. But if you forget your skill - you've got to work on your wrists, on your bowling and spot-bowling. What we forget after playing for our country is the spot-bowling which we grew up with in the countryside.

So one must stick to a lot of bowling for sure as a fast bowler, and should surely do a lot of swimming. My advice is if you go to the gym, make sure you have a swimming session the same day because it gives you flexibility, and you won't be stiff. The core strength is more important than the upper body or muscle groups to have what is called "effortless pace". Strength is important but I would rather say we should be balanced.

Flashback to Johannesburg 2006

HB: On flashback, we have Sreesanth with us. We're going to go back to India's tour of South Africa in 2006 where he literally burst on the scene. Very few people in South Africa had seen Sreesanth, not many in India knew a lot about him. And then in that first Test, he took eight wickets and finished the three with 18 at an average of 21.94. To be honest, in all the years I have covered international cricket, to me that first-innings performance in Johannesburg was among the top three or four performances I've seen by an Indian fast bowler. What went right for you?

Sreesanth: There was a game before that in Potchefstroom where I thought "this is my last game". I had to prove myself to get into the XI. I remember the Johannesburg Test when we got very few runs and were about to bowl and Rahul Dravid came up to me and said "Sree, if you can win this game for me I'll be more than happy."

I was fortunate enough to get those wickets and Zaheer Khan really bowled well from the other end. That actually helped me because he wasn't giving any runs, and even VRV Singh, when he scored a quick 29, really lifted the morale of the team. Maybe that charged me up and I just wanted to do something for the country. I just told myself to keep it simple.

And on that morning I met my idol Allan Donald on the ground. So maybe all of that motivated me and I was a completely different bowler.

HB: Is that the best you've bowled? A lot of us have waited for a long time to see you bowl that kind of spell consistently and you've delivered in patches.

Sreesanth: I'll rate that performance surely as it is the only Test we have ever won there. But I think the comeback match against Sri Lanka in Kanpur was the best I bowled. I was under a lot of stress and pressure and I never thought I'll play for India again. Upon getting a chance in Kanpur, on those flattest of tracks, I could get the ball to reverse. I rate that as my best spell. Maybe a couple of spells against Brian Lara and Chris Gayle in West Indies, but I will surely rate the South African performance as one of the best for sure.

HB: Thank you very much Sree for joining us and hopefully in the season coming up, we'll see you take a lot more wickets because there's a slot available in that Indian side.

Harsha Bhogle is a television presenter, writer, and a commentator on IPL and other cricket. @bhogleharsha


Comments: 27 
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Posted by shubham on (May 30, 2010, 15:14 GMT)

Respected Shahzan I think it is our ill fate not to have fast bowlers like pakistan had and have,but you can't underestimate indian batting and spin unit's hard work for making india no. 1 in tests and in top three in ODIs .I can't understand why we(pakistanis and indians)keeps on fighting everywhere.The DIVIDE and RULE policy of west is still carried on by us everywhere i think the best time ever in indian cricket was before 1947 when crops of pacers and allrounders comes from pak and spinners and batsmen from india.I always dreams to watch india and pakistan playing under a flag as a nation.BUT MY GENERATION I DON'T THINK IS TOO SMART TO OVERCOME THE INDIFFERENCE DUE TO POLITICIANS AND POLITICS.WE LOVES TO ABUSE EACH OTHER EVERY WHERE RATHER THAN BEHAVING LIKE BROTHERS. [B]LONG LIVE INDIA [B]LONG LIVE PAKISTAN

Posted by Shahzan on (May 29, 2010, 20:23 GMT)

I read some of the stupid and humorous comments by inexperienced cricket fans. They say Kapil Dev won the World Cup for India b4 Imran Khan could do for Pakistan. I say that Kapil Dev won the W.C. just because of the bad luck of W Indies. Pakistan has also been beating India since ages. I wonder that a country with 1025 millions of population couldn't produce a single bowler like Imran Khan, Waqar, Shoaib, M.Sami, M.Asif, Waseem, M.Asif, M.Zahid and M.Akram etc. etc.etc. India is proud of being in the top ranking these days in tests. The cricket fans will witness how India teams falls the top ranking to the lowers as they have started losing matches even to Zimbabwe, who humiliated them in Bulawayo.

Posted by Eapen on (May 23, 2010, 23:20 GMT)

Guys just stop arguing about whose got what and whose faster than whom. Before arguing whatever, remember one thing. Indian bowlers are brought up on dead pitches. This is why they don't last long enough. Look at Indian bowlers record on seamer friendly pitches and it will be as good as anyone. The results still not being in their favor is simply coz when they have performed Indian batting was never upto the standards. Imran Khan being a better all rounder than Kapil Dev is rubbish. How on earth you compare them when one have played fewer than the other and never batted in the same position as the other. In cricket geography too does matter in comparison. To be honest the new lot of players from both countries can't be as effective as older players as cricket is more demanding today and the money they earn nowadays just kill their spirit. Its love for money than love for the game now.

Posted by Arshad on (May 23, 2010, 17:06 GMT)

@Manish, if your benchmark is "who did it first" then Charles Banermann was the best batsman because he scored a century earlier than anyone else. Does that make him better than Bradman and Sachin? Of course India achieved #1 ranking but remember ranking system is introduced few years back. If you look at OVERALL record of India and Pakistan in EITHER form of the game, you will see Pakistan has better success rate compared to India. Manish, dont get the impression that I intend to start an India-Pak debate here; I believe giving credit wherever its due. Do you know Imran Khan is the ONLY player in the cricket history who averaged over 50 with the bat and around 20 with the ball while captaining his side. This shows who was the true leader. Furthermore, Pak has better overall record than India because of their outstanding bowling. Its the bowlers who won matches. These days Pak bowlers are just pathetic, hence team is not winning. Anyway, wish you all the best !!!

Posted by Wanderer on (May 22, 2010, 22:20 GMT)

Are we still stuck in that silly belief that Indians eat veggies therefore can't produce genuine fast bowlers... please just stop talking nonsense.

Posted by Ramazan on (May 22, 2010, 16:08 GMT)

pakistan has a culture which encorages youngsters 2 take up fast bowling...in includes their diet...etc...vegan indians can only bowl fast in their dreams.

Posted by   on (May 22, 2010, 15:08 GMT)

@BoomBoom..No doubt Imran Khan was better all-rounder than Kapil Dev. But Kapil won World Cup 1983 before Imran Khan 1992. Also Kapil Dev also won Benson and Hedges 1985 with all nations playing. Kapil Dev achieved its Prime much before Imran Khan.

BTW@Intl Level India has achieved Test#1 Ranking, Pakistan never has. India has Won World Cup 1983. India has won 2007 T20. India has won Champion Trophy 2002.

..Pak never been Test # 1 or never Won Champions Trophy...

Posted by Arshad on (May 22, 2010, 7:47 GMT)

Srinath faster than Waqar and Wasim....... TRULY HILARIOUS !!!

Now someone will probably claim Kapil Dev better than Imran Khan..... of course this is your website and you can write whatever you want about Indian players.

Wht dont you guys just look at the records before making such stipid statements.

Posted by mukesh on (May 22, 2010, 1:33 GMT)

Fear of Injury affecting Indian fast bowlers.. the heading itself doesn't make any sense 1) did india ever had a fast bowler? harsha its only seamers / medium pacers 2)Fear of injury i think its absolutely rubbish since almost everyone including batsmen are absolutely injured. At a given time we have 50% of players who are injured.cos of schedule they play with niggle and major injuries until and unless they cannot take field all indian players do play and are selected 3)Action and body-> Action none of indian bowlers ever had and will have good action till date . We have action only for medium pace. No one has lengthy run up. Body i don't want to talk about excuses here . Is there any difference btw body of Indians ,pakis,lankans for that sake bangla murtuzas.its all the similar. we cannot be express but we can atleast be like akram. Not expecting any shoaibs from India for next 10 years. 4)TOPIC should be how BCCI can help create good pitches as paras mentioned. We need bouncy pitche

Posted by Vidyadhar on (May 22, 2010, 0:58 GMT)

The fast bowlers also need a lot of guidance and nurturing. There should be a national plan for helping players like Ishant and Sree, When are injured they need more support. They are now let to fend for themselves and then submit to fitness test. The off season should be time to rest and recuperate not party. Time to also revamp the domestic cricket to push for more results. Planned draws from the beginning and playing for the first innings, are leading to more and more placid wickets. The bowlers need a chance also. Perhaps it is also time to put some clauses in their contracts to ensure fitness, and behavior.

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