Bangalore, Jun 28: Former Australian paceman Dennis Lillee has praised India fast bowler Zaheer Khan and called him "a complete fast bowler" and added that he had "developed into a great fast bowler."
Lillee, who is set to leave the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai after serving there as a coaching director for 25 years, felt Zaheer was the number one bowler to have emerged out of the pace academy.
The Australian, who is regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers, was instrumental in grooming Zaheer when he first joined the academy as a 17-year-old.
"I've seen Zaheer since he came to the Pace Foundation aged 17 or 18. He touched 145-148 kph then and was a very successful bowler doing that. When I last saw him bowl, during the recent tour to Australia, I saw a smarter and a much better bowler. He is what I call a complete fast bowler. I also thought the same of Richard Hadlee. He too tried to bowl as fast as he could till 27 or 28. He then decided to shorten his run-up and become a very smart bowler; he became one of the better bowlers that I've ever seen. Zaheer has certainly developed into a great fast bowler," Lillee told Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) website bcci.tv.
Zaheer has been the spearhead of India's bowling attack for a long time. Since the departure of Javagal Srinath, the left-arm seamer has assumed the role of leading the pack.
The 33-year-old is close to bagging 300 Test wickets. So far, in 83 Tests, he has 288 dismissals. In 195 ODIs, he has 278 wickets.
Zaheer has also mastered the art of reverse swing, which has fetched him a lot of wickets. He has been brilliant with the red ball in Test matches. However, injuries have made him cut down on speed. When he arrived on the scene, he consistently clocked 145kmph.
On the pitches in India, Lillee said: "I've said it for 25 years I've been coming here. To improve the standard of fast bowling in India, we need to prepare wickets assisting this breed of bowlers. The pitches need not be extremely fast and bouncy - a lot of Australian wickets are not like that. But they need to have good carry and produce a good contest between bat and ball. A good wicket with a bit of pace and a little bit of bounce produces a good game of cricket and a good spectacle for the people watching it."