Bhandari's emergency call up exposes Indian pace dearth

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2004, 12:23 [IST]
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Amit Bhandari's recent call up to join the team down under exposes a disease that continues to plague Indian cricket but has not been treated or for that matter eradicated.

There are so many so-called "pacers" in the country and are even rated "fast-medium", or "medium-fast". However, if the fastest that a country can produce is "fast-medium" by international standards and the country has over a billion people - there is a problem!

Maybe the Indian genetic makeup is just not conducive to a fast bowler’s physique. As I had mentioned in one of my earlier columns, the Indian paceman looks like a broomstick with teeth when compared to his foreign including across the border contemporaries.

India has the second highest population in the world. The rest of the nations in the Test cricket realm come nowhere near in terms of populace. I remember reading a column where the writer commented about searching in the North of India since the Northerners are physically stockier that their contemporaries in the South. Seems to me that this search is proving futile.

Would having pacier wickets help? I for one don't think so. Which of the Indian bowlers fared the best Down Under? Anil Kumble, a leg-break googly bowler! Agarkar impressed only once, as did Zaheer before his fragile frame broke down under pressure.

Given the above scenario, should India pack more spinners and have pacers only to remove the shine of the ball, as did Sunil Gavaskar in his heydays? From the looks of it, the rest of the world has caught up to the spin trick and has even overtaken India in this realm. Really, India is running out of options.

Therefore, the Indians need to spice up their batting and perform consistently and improve their fielding skills. Remember, it wasn't India's outstanding bowling that helped them win the 1983 World Cup. It was their fielding which won praises from all over. However, if the fielding skills are found wanting, you could have the fastest bowler in the world or the craftiest spinner, and it would do no good because catches would be routinely dropped, either behind the wicket or in the outfield.

India's problem will take a long time to solve. It should have been dealt with as soon as it became apparent, but then, the Indian "think" (or is it stink) tank kept procrastinating to no end. Can India find a "fast bowler", not fast-medium or lower? That is the million or in India's case the billion people question!

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