Sydney: Former Australian captain Ian Chappell is of the view that the sport is in dire need of genuine fast bowlers, and is not surprised that young Patrick Cummins`` arrival in the Australian team has created a lot of interest.
“Genuine fast bowlers are only slightly behind swing bowling and leg spin as vital factors in cricket`s success. While swingers and leggies add to the variety of entertainment, the genuine fast bowler puts the test into Test match cricket. He tests the courage of batsmen, and whilst this has been diluted in the era of substantial protective equipment, any player who is the slightest bit apprehensive will still be found out,” says Chappel in an article for a leading daily.
“Nothing stirs the excitement of the crowd like the sight of a Brett Lee charging in off a long run to be confronted by a belligerent Virender Sehwag. The mystique surrounding the first ball of a Test match is built on such confrontations,” he adds.
“The fact that Cummins`` hasty arrival has created such interest is proof of the need for genuine fast bowlers. That he`s being hailed as a prospect, though he has very little prior history, is also an indication there aren`t enough of his type in the game at the moment,” Chappell says.
Making a comparison between the 1990s and the present, Chappell says that in the 1990s the game was blessed with a boatload of good fast bowlers: the obligatory four from the West Indies, the two Ws from Pakistan, and those in South Africa and Australia.
Currently, however, there are good pace bowlers around, but they rely more on swing to ambush the batsmen and don`t create the same ripple of anticipation that buzzes around the ground when a genuine pace-man measures out his run,” Chappell adds.
He believes that there are concerns about the adverse effect Twenty20 might have on the technique and artistry of not only batting, but also on what it does to fast bowlers.
“Already we are witnessing a variety of slower deliveries being paraded by the quicker bowlers. Consequently it`s good to occasionally see a bowler like Shaun Tait, who works on this simple principle: "Here it is, see if you can hit it," says Chappell.
He recalls suggesting to Jeff Thomson that he have a chat with his fast bowling team-mate Dennis Lillee about how to bowl on slower pitches, and Thomson replied:. "Mate, if you don`t mind, I`ll do it my way."
“After some thought, I realised Thommo was right; he was a fast bowler and he was going to live or die on his pace,” recalls Chappell.
He also says that in picking 18-year-old Cummins, the Australian selectors have adhered to another of (West Indian pace bowling great Andy) Roberts`` pearls of wisdom.
Roberts believed that fast bowlers only had a few years of genuine pace and it was important to "pick them while they`re still quick".
“It will be a pity if the hectic international scheduling leads to a reduction in the number of such fast bowlers. There aren`t enough of them around now that the game can afford to turn those few who dream of bowling quick into medium-fast trundlers,” Chappell concludes.