|Ladha Amar Singh|
Indian Cricket team never enjoyed services of 4 genuine quick bowlers right from its inception in International Cricket. In the year 1932 India played its first test at Lords against England. In that first test match Indian cricket team included two genuine quick bowlers and they were Ladha Amar Singh and Mohammad Nissar. After these two fast bowlers India struggled to find genuine fast bowler for next forty years although Ramakant Desai served India for sometime during 1950s and 1960s but he was not genuine quick bowler until Kapil Dev emerged as a fresh breath for the country. Kapil Dev in 70s burst on the scene with the bang and lead the Indian pace attack till 1994. But Kapil Dev also became swing bowler as his career progressed.
There were few bowlers whom we can consider medium pacers played alongside Kapil Dev during his career and they were Madan Lal, Roger Binny, Karsan Ghavri, Chetan Sharma, Mohinder Amarnath, Manoj Prabhakar,etc. but none of them left the impact or I must say inspired the youngsters to take the fast bowling seriously except Kapil Dev. So India mostly relied on spin quartet of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrshekhar and Venkatraghvan to win the matches and fast bowlers were only used to reduce the shine of the ball so that spinners can take wicket with rough balls. On the other hand our neighbour country Pakistan kept producing genuine fast bowlers one after another in Sarfaraz Nawaz, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, etc. and still producing the good number of fast bowlers although conditions and environment is almost same in both the countries.
In the late 80s and early 90s, few fast bowlers in Vivek Razdan, Atul Wassan, Subroto Banerjee, Salil Ankola, Sanjeev Sharma played for India but didn't last long or we can say were not persisted with and dropped after one or two failures or some of them lost their fitness. But among these bowlers, one bowler who emerged on the scene was Javagal Srinath who served Indian cricket for more than a decade. I think Javagal Srinath was the first genuine fast bowler India produced after Amar Singh and Mohammad Nissar. During Srinath's career Manoj Prabhakar and Venkatesh Prasad shared new ball. Both Prabhakar and Prasad were medium pacers.But some how these three bowlers carried the load on their shoulders.
In late 90s and early 2000, many fast bowlers emerged in Indian cricket who promised a lot and some of them were genuine quick bowlers. Likes of Munaf Patel, R.P Singh, L.Balaji, Manpreet Gony, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Pankaj Singh, S.Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Praveen Kumar,etc. Out of which I feel Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma were genuinely quick At this moment Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth are permanent fixture in the team but all three of them have acute problem of fitness and often dropped because of injuries.
One more problem for Team India is that bowlers who emerge as genuine quicks always turns medium pacers surprisingly after one season. Prime example of that is Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma who bowled at speed of more than 150 kms. when they first came on to the scene. I really don't understand what happens to these bowlers after one season that they becomes medium pacers from genuine quick bowlers. Today one question also arise and that is when we are blessed with so many fast bowlers after 80 years since our debut in International cricket then why not we nurture these fast bowlers and why not our selectors and administrators persists with these bowlers and help them to serve the country for longer period. Why don't we have system where all the promising fast bowlers supported by the board, so that they can flourish their bowling and serve the country for longer periods.
I must say we don't prepare fast and green pitches in our domestic cricket which boost the confidence of fast bowlers. We struggle till 2000 to win the series outside sub-continent because we did not had the bowlers who can take advantage of seaming and bouncing pitches. Scenario has changed after year 2000 and we have started winning the matches outside sub-continent but still we lack the bowlers who can pick 20 wickets of opposition team because batsman can save the match but its the bowlers who can win matches by picking up 20 wickets. If we want more fast bowlers and want to retain existing bowlers then we have to prepare pitches which assists fast bowlers. This will also help our batsmen in disguise as they don't find themselves in alien nation when they tour overseas and will play the fast bowling well.
Finally I want to ask our cricket administrators that where is Irfan Pathan, R.P Singh, L. Balaji, Manpreet Gony, Pankaj Singh and why don't these bowlers get the assistance from the board? We have huge pool of fast bowlers in our country at this moment, only thing required is that our administrators have to help them by starting a special programme for them which ensures that all these bowlers remain fit and rotated. This will motivate these bowlers to do well for the country. Still if we have to chose four genuine quick bowlers then we don't have too many options so scenario remains the same since 1932.