The Indian Cricket Team off-late has been producing quality fast bowlers. The team has so many options that it is difficult to form a core group due to the overload of options. There was a time in Indian Cricket when the country couldn’t look beyond the likes of Javagal Srinath or Kapil Dev or Zaheer Khan. The team always had one good fast bowler but there was not a pair or a group of dominant pacers. Since Virat Kohli had taken captaincy, he had focused on forming a good core group of pacers. This trick certainly worked and today India has some of the quickest and most consistent fast bowlers. Here is an in-depth look:
1) Virat Kohli Asked the Management to Scout Fast Bowlers for the Indian Cricket Team:
When Virat took the captaincy in the test format back in 2014, India was coming after a 4-0 at the hands of Australia. Ishant Sharma recalls having a discussion with Virat where Virat told him, “The next time when we come here we are going to come with a gang of great fast bowlers who will bowl 140 clicks till the very last game and I want you to be one of them”. This statement speaks volumes of the major focus of the Indian team under Virat Kohli.
The management at the NCA then started scouting good pacers. Navdeep Saini was scouted by Gautam Gambhir from Karnal, Prasidh Krishna was picked from Karnataka, and Mohammad Siraj, the sensation, was scouted by Bharat Arun from Hyderabad. This shifted the focus the team’s focus completely. Veteran bowlers like Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav were backed and their skills were polished. The next time India went to Australia in 2018, the quartet of Bumrah, Shami, Ishant, and Umesh rattled the Australians.
2) Inspiration from top performers at the International Level:
India has always been a batter’s country. India has produced top-quality batsmen from the onset of the game. We had CK Nayudu, Gundappa Vishwanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and all the other heroes. When a young man sees Sachin bat well on TV, he wants to become Sachin! This was not the case with pace bowlers.
We only had a few names here and there earlier. It was Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath. But in the 2000s we had fresher, inspirational faces. We had Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, RP Singh, and Ajit Agarkar. These players inspired the Bumrahs, the Shamis, and the Sirajs to take up fast bowling. Earlier the bowlers were considered a labor class but these figures changed that outlook.
3) MRF Pace Foundation and Good Scouting have helped the Indian Cricket Team:
Prasidh Krishna comes from the MRF Pace Foundation. Irfan Pathan was also a commodity given by the MRF Pace foundation. This is an academy located in Chennai for the growth of fast bowling. The chairperson of the MRF Pace Foundation is Glenn McGrath. At the time of the formation of this organization, the chairperson was Denis Lille.
Good scouting also plays a big part. Earlier the scouts used to look around the country for good batters but then the focus was shifted. The scouting program run by Kiran More in 2003 for batters found players like MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, and Aakash Chopra. A similar scouting program was run a few years back. Gautam Gambhir as mentioned earlier saw Navdeep Saini bowl with a tennis ball in Karnal, Haryana. T Natarajan was also scouted from the villages of Tamil Nadu. Pace Sensation Umran Malik was found by Irfan Pathan when Irfan was with the Ranji Team of Jammu and Kashmir. All of them are now assets of the Indian Cricket Team.
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