WHERE’S THE NEXT TORCH BEARER?

From Kapil Dev to Javagal Srinath to Zaheer Khan has been an endearing journey. Indian fast bowling rarely had men who hunted in pairs. India almost always had only a one man show as far as fast bowling was concerned. Kapil Dev was exemplary while Srinath was under-utilised. Since he burst on to the scene in the year 2000, Zaheer has been the torch bearer for fast bowling for India both in test matches and one day internationals. He has been excellent, to say the least, over the last couple of years.

As he is 32, it’s time to find and groom the next person to whom the baton can be passed. Sadly, one cannot find a promising youngster who could emulate Zaheer. Ishant Sharma is too inconsistent, Sreesanth is wayward, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar and Ashish Nehra have chinks in their armour which they need to iron out.

It’s high time the BCCI, the national selection committee and the Indian team management did something about this. With Zaheer’s injury history, no one can vouch for how long more he could play for the country. Moreover, the pitches continue to be benign; the NCA is not producing quality fast bowlers.

The cricket administration in India should seriously think of conducting a fast bowling talent hunt to find a genuine quick who can be of valuable service to the country. In the next ten years, India will struggle to retain their No. 1 test ranking without quality fast bowlers. Bowling looks to be India’s bane in the future.

The lack of vision on the BCCI’s part is disheartening. So much of money is being earned but nothing is spent on making the pitches more lively or trying to find bowling talent. They need to prioritize what’s important and by the looks of what we see that is not happening.

Let’s hope that better sense prevails and we do soon have a serious fast bowler who can take up the mantle of leading India’s new ball attack after Zaheer Khan. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long and arduous journey to sustain what India has achieved in the last couple of years. We could very well say goodbye to the No. 1 test ranking.

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