Varun Aaron took three wickets in his One-Day International debut against England © Getty Images
Varun Aaron took three wickets in his One-Day International debut against England © Getty Images

 

By Sidhanta Patnaik

 

Even the hardcore Indian cricket fan keeping a tab of every move in the game for an eternity could fail to recollect the last time he witnessed a bowler in the Indian blue jersey running in hard to match up to the pace of the some of the fastest bowlers in contemporary cricket. Varun Aaron’s much-awaited debut in the fourth One-Day International was the icing on India victory cake at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. The Jharkhand lad, who will be celebrating his 22nd birthday before the week ends, kept hitting the timber of the English batsmen which was pure blissful music to every Indian ears.

 

Aaron’s debut was much awaited and much criticised for the delay. And when he finally got his opportunity, he grabbed it with both his hands and gave much hope for India’s generation next. A fast bowler castling the stumps makes for sensational television viewing, and when the subject happens to be an Indian it becomes almost a surreal reality.

 

The sense of thrill heightened with every wicket he took a wicket. And by the time the scorebook had recorded “b Varun Aaron” thrice, every Indian cricket fan was salivating!

 

The million dollar question: Should the nation be excited about Aaron and blow its trumpet to the world?

 

The answer is an emphatic no.

 

Indian cricket history is replete with instances of promising fast bowlers being badly handled and eventually sent into obscurity. Abey Kuruvilla, Tinu Yohanan, VRV Singh, Irfan Pathan are just a few in the sorry list of Indian fast bowlers who died a premature death. One can add a few more names to the laundry list. India needs to learn lessons from the sorry happenings of the past and handle Aaron with care.

 

It is easy for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to blame the National Cricket Academy (NCA), the respective state associations or the player himself, but as the apex body for the game in India it has to take responsibility in unearthing, preserving and nurturing talent that can serve Indian cricket for long.

 

That age old theory that the body structure of Indians is not conducive for producing genuine paceman is a weak argument. There is not much difference between Indians – especially in the North – and Pakistanis. Yet our neighbours have produced quality fast bowlers like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar and many more since by conveyor belt methods.

 

At the presentation ceremony of the fourth ODI against England, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hoped that Aaron will develop consistency with passage of time. It is a sentiment that echoes right across the 28 states and seven union territories that form the landscape of Indian cricket.

 

(Sidhanta Patnaik has done his MSc in Sports and Leisure Management from The University of Sheffield. As a part of the degree, he successfully completed his dissertation titled ‘Feasibility analysis for an IPL-style T20 cricket league in England’ under the guidance of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. He has also officiated as an affiliated level 1 umpire of England Cricket Board. Sidhanta also runs marathons)