“They still love to watch a fast bowler in action. Cricket is not just boundaries and sixes, a fast bowler running in and ratting or bouncing the batters out are much more entertaining than power-hitting”
The first time I experienced genuine fast bowling was via a highlight package of that India vs Pakistan Test at Karachi in 1982-83. It was a one-hour program, where Imran Khan simply decimated the mighty Indian batting line-up with an astonishing pace.
Then there was another highlight package of Nottingham Test in 1980 between England and West Indies, where I fell in love with Malcolm Marshall’s pace. Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, and Joel Garner fetched wickets, but Marshall’s pace was mind-blowing.
The highlight packages of Frank Worrell Trophy of 1988-89 are still quite fresh in my mind. I think Patrick Patterson bowled faster than Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh at Brisbane and WACA. Watching on television I could guess, it was lightning fast.
In 1989, I think it was during October, we were watching the Sharjah Cup in Door Darshan by using those funky tools in our antennas at the rooftop. It was the most anticipated clash of our childhood – Pakistan vs West Indies as Imran Khan unleashed a young Waqar Younis.
The Indian and Pakistan commentators along with Henry Blofield and Tony lewis kept on saying, this young lad is too fast. I remember, several times Waqar beat the bat of West Indian top order with sheer pace. But it was Wasim Akram who hogged the limelight via scripting a hat-trick.
That was one hell of an experience as for the first time in my life I saw a genuine fast bowler live in action.
Two years later, at the Eden Gardens, a young Allan Donald set jitters in the Indian batting line-up while defending a total of 177 for 8 in 50 overs. India won by 3 wickets as Donald fetched 5 wickets, which included Ravi Shastri, Navjot Singh Siddhu, Sanjay Majrekar, Sachin Tendulkar and Pravin Amre. Not a bad start for a young lad in his first ODI, who conveyed a message to others, he is here to compete with the big boys.
Do I need any particular reasons to explain why I like fast bowlers so much?
If someone’s childhood is intertwined with names like Imran, Marshall, Wasim, Waqar, Donald or Ambrose, it’s obvious he would enjoy watching a speed merchant.
Before the arrival of Shoaib Akhtar, someone named Mohammad Zahid announced his arrival at the international scene with some outstanding display of fast bowling at Rawalpindi in 1996. The next year at Gabba, he would take Brian Lara by surprise with his pace as Lara later admitted that he saw nothing while facing Zahid. I watched that spell live on ESPN.
The arrival of Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee were inspiring, but just two genuine fast bowlers just didn’t quench my thirst. Then there was one Dale Steyn but just one and only Steyn along with the injury-prone Morkel.
The end of 90s gave away to an era where the bat dominated and until 2018, test teams hardly had any fast bowlers on their sides.
But things have started to change.
The balance seems to be shifting towards genuine fast bowlers and sporting wickets. With India relying more on faster men, perhaps prompted the ICC and other Boards to encourage the growth of pacers in modern-day cricket.
Obviously, without the fast men, neither the 50-over format nor the 5-day match can’t be exciting. Thanks to Virat Kohli for letting the ICC and other Boards realize this fact.
The emergence of Jofra Archer is inspiring.
At Lord’s, he was just magnificent. His aggression was like Ambrose and with each and every delivery, he meant dam bloody business.
Forget about the outswing, inswing or late swing, the ball just jumped from a length towards the body and head region with deceptive pace – and then, all of a sudden, the cherry is given a work of the wrist to move in and out – now such things spice up a Test match.
Archer is a complete package!
He is once in a generation fast bowler, who needs to be handled carefully.
If a young gun clocks around 96 mph then it gives Test cricket hope.
Just look at how many people attended the final day Lord’s?
They still love to watch a fast bowler in action. Cricket is not just boundaries and sixes, a fast bowler running in and ratting or bouncing the batters out are much more entertaining than power-hitting.