Monday, 30th October 2017

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Pacers rise on right pitch

Change in the nature of pitches in India has played a key role in the growth of pacers, feels Michael Holding

By Sayak Banerjee in Calcutta
  • Published 29.12.19, 4:48 AM
  • Updated 29.12.19, 4:48 AM
  • 2 mins read
India pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami Telegraph picture

India, the land of spinners for long, command a fearsome and efficient pace attack at present.

The arrival of Jasprit Bumrah and the likes of Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami rediscovering themselves have worked wonders for India’s pace attack. Gone are the days when the India captain had to be over-dependent on the spinners.

Virat Kohli’s pacers tormenting the West Indies in the Caribbean earlier this year had been quite a sight. Michael Holding and Ian Bishop, two fast-bowling stalwarts from the Caribbean, don’t consider it to be a fluke.

According to Holding, the change in the nature of pitches in India has played a key role in the growth of pacers and their subsequent improvement. “Luck”, Holding says, has nothing to do in this matter.

“Well, I have said before on telly that I don’t think it’s because of luck that India are now producing a lot of top-class fast bowlers.

“On my last visit to India in 2014, I noticed that the pitches there had changed since my playing days. I saw that the pitches were more encouraging to pacers… They were harder, offering more pace and bounce,” Holding, commentating in the ongoing Centurion Test between South Africa and England, told The Telegraph.

According to Holding, such pitches also help develop batsmen who can deal better with deliveries which rise above the waist.

“…It encourages better cricket overall, also producing batsmen who can play balls bouncing over their waist better.”

If India had this mindset in the past, Holding believes they would have played better cricket. “Perhaps, if India had this mindset in the years

gone by, they would have won a lot more Tests away from home and could have been the best team in the world much earlier,” the Windies pace great said.

Bishop feels that the growth of fast bowlers in India began from the time of Kapil Dev.

“I think it goes back a long time starting with Kapil Dev… Then you had Javagal Srinath, then Zaheer Khan. Thereafter, the whole thing coming up to now with Ishant and the rest.

“The improvement that Ishant and Shami have shown across formats is brilliant to see, while Bumrah, as I’ve said earlier, is a once-in-a-generation-type bowler,” Bishop, who has played 43 Tests and 84 ODIs for the West Indies, said.

In order to be the No. 1 side in the longest format, India had to start winning overseas and for that, they needed to have good fast bowling stocks, Bishop stressed.

“India always had a great record at home. But if they had to be No. 1 in the world, they also needed to win overseas.

“So what do you need to do then? You need good batting, good slow bowling and at the same time, good fast bowling. And India have got that now.

“You know, I love fast bowling wherever I see it or whoever is good at it,” he explained.