Where have all our fast bowlers disappeared? Karthik Parimal throws light on some of the fast bowlers who’ve represented India in the last one year, but presently struggling to make the cut for various reasons.
The Indian team selection did not generate much heat. The pacy Varun Aaron may feel that he has done enough to hold his place in the team, but it would have been ridiculous to compromise in the spin department and go with four fast bowlers instead on Sri Lanka’s turning wickets. The decision of the selectors, thus, is understandable. But the point to be noted is that India never have had a consistent bunch of fast bowlers in the past few years. As many as seven fast bowlers, who’ve donned the national colours less than a year ago, are struggling to find a spot in the current Indian team.
Let us now look at this list of fast bowlers who failed to make the cut, owing either to an injury or poor form.
Out of the ODIs since June 2011
After Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma has been India’s most successful bowler in Tests since the last 12 months. But the wickets didn’t come easy. There was a phase that saw Ishant go wicketless despite bowling extremely well during the English and Australian tours. Some members from the cricket fraternity termed him as an ‘unlucky’ bowler. However, the surgery he neglected prior to the Australian tour last December had its repercussions. Knowing well that he wouldn’t be fully fit to tour Australia, Ishant may have committed a blunder by making himself available for that series.
Ishant hasn’t played a single One-Day International (ODI) since the last one year. In fact, he has featured in just six ODIs since the last couple of years.
He ruled himself out of the Sri Lankan series since he’s still recuperating from an ankle injury. "Intensity of bowling and fitness has to increase gradually and I would also need some match practice to check myself. I think I will take two or three months more to regain match fitness," Ishant said.
Out since August 2011 from Tests and since April 2011 from ODIs
One of India’s most temperamental bowlers, Sreesanth has been in and out of the side on a regular basis. Form used to be an issue during the initial stages of his career whereas injuries have taken precedence now. Selected to play for the Rajasthan Royals during the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Sreesanth was expected to take the field during the later stages of the tournament, but injury has forced him out of action since months now. In the last 12 months, Sreesanth has played just three Tests and absolutely no ODIs owing to both poor form and toe injuries.
Still recovering from an injury to both his toes, Sreesanth hopes to return to full fitness by January 2013. Sreesanth, however, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons; he recently landed in yet another controversy when a co-passenger in Bangalore-Delhi flight alleged the former of rude behaviour.
Out of internationals cricket since September 2011
Out of favour with the Indian selectors for quite some time now, RP Singh played just one Test and three ODIs in the last one year. He was a surprise selection in the India A team that toured the West Indies last month, but failed to board the flight owing to a knee-injury. He was replaced by speedster Parvinder Awana who had a good outing during the recently concluded IPL. RP Singh last played for India during the disastrous tour of England last year.
It’s unfortunate that a knee-injury has hampered RP Singh’s return to the Indian squad. A good performance in that West Indies A tour would have shot him to limelight, but that was not to be. RP will have to recover and perform exceptionally well in the upcoming domestic tournaments to forge his way back into the national side.
Last ODI in March 2011
Ashish Nehra was one of India’s premier ODI bowler nine years ago. Thereafter, he has been on a steady downward spiral. Not many gave him a chance to make a comeback into the Indian squad, but Nehra did well to prove his critics wrong. However, his second coming was not an eventful one. Nehra last played an ODI game during the 2011 World Cup. It was against Pakistan. The more appalling fact is that he played his last Test against the same opposition eight years ago at Rawalpindi.
Nehra had a very average IPL 5. He’ll have to play out of his skin in the next competitive tournament if he plans on making a comeback, especially considering the current crop of fast bowlers. At 33, age is a big factor.
Last ODI, September 2011
Munaf Patel was touted to be the fastest bowler in India a few years ago, but he lost considerable pace after wearing the national colours. Since then, Munaf has done a decent job with the ball, but the same cannot be said about his on-field agility. In the past few months, Munaf has not been as efficient as he was earlier. He played just one Test, five ODIs and one T20 in the last one year with very little success.
Munaf received the Eklavya Award from the Gujarat Government for his contributions during the 2011 World Cup. Thereafter, a string of controversies surrounded him during the IPL, and he’s been dropped on the basis of poor form from the Indian side.
Last Test in August 2011
He is probably the most successful of the above-mentioned bowlers. Praveen Kumar has played four Tests, 16 ODIs and five T20s in the last 12 months with very little success. Nevertheless, he was the only bowler who managed to get into the skin of the opposition on multiple occasions. Injuries hampered his progress, but he did well to recover and contribute. But his efficiency didn’t last long either.
He was axed from the side for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka owing to poor form. He had to make way for a more experienced bowler in the form of Zaheer Khan. However, one feels that it’s just a matter of time before Praveen Kumar returns to the national side.
Out from Test cricket since April 2008
A famous quote from Calvin and Hobbes states that life is made up of summits of happiness and valleys of frustration. The quote fits Irfan Pathan best. At just the age of 27, Irfan has seen it all in his cricketing career. He has been dropped on numerous occasions owing to bad form. He made his comeback into the national squad after a long time and has played eight ODIs and one T20 in the past 12 months. He has done more damage with the bat, but that isn’t his primary role in the side. Agreed, all-rounders are necessary, but not when they don’t serve the main purpose they’ve been picked for.
Irfan has been dropped from the side after an unimpressive comeback and an average IPL.
(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. His zeal for writing and love for the sport of cricket is what has brought him here. Karthik can also be followed on Twitter)