Birmingham, Aug 10: It has been the scourge of Team India that they are not able to produce effective pacemen that can go the distance. In the last decade we've seen several young quicks from the nation trying their hand at the cherry. Occasionally, new inductees in the pace-bowling department instantly shine and in so doing, vindicate the national selectors choice to repose faith in them.
But within a short period of time, the razor-sharp lines become blunted and wayward, the swing goes out of control and the quality of intimidating batsmen with bouncers, diminishes inordinately. Consistency and accuracy turn forgotten traits and the side's pacers wind up with an experimental gamut of tricks that does little to faze the batsmen.
For instance, Mumbai's Ajit Agarkar had an auspicious baptism in One-Day cricket when in the late 90s, he set a record for taking the quickest career haul of 50 wickets. His foray into Test Cricket was far less inspiring, although he did take a 6-for against Steve Waugh's Australia in the early noughties. But after several failed comebacks, he was eventually discarded.
Then when Irfan Pathan burst onto the scene in 2004, he was being hailed as India's best all-rounder since Kapil Dev. And even though he was felicitated with the Promising New Player of the Year award, his deadly banana swing rapidly turned into a mushy misguided missile. And while his batting was going from strength to strength, his pathetically morphed bowling cost him his side in the senior team.
The trend doesn't seem to have stopped among the next crop of Indian fast bowlers as well. Sreesanth took South Africa by storm in his maiden tour of the Rainbow Nation in 2007, when he topped the wickets charts of the Test series with 18 scalps at an average of 21. With his current career average languishing at 35, one gets a clear picture of his decline.
But what could be the reason behind this malaise? Are our bowlers bereft of the drive to practice regularly, choosing instead to rely on their raw talent which anyway needs guidance and training? Or are they physically just not suitable for playing the long game? One is drawn to the tenacity and durability of pace greats like Glenn McGrath and the present Dale Steyn who just churn out hostile deliveries with a minimum of fuss. Now, as India suffers in England from a poor pace make-up, the management stands compelled to detect and craft quality speedsters.