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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Varun Aaron fights back injuries ! ~ list of Indian medium fast bowlers

Sharadul Thakur is the latest entrant .. .. .. Kapil Dev was the crowning glory ~ there were talks that Yograj Singh and Thirumalai Ananthanpillai Sekhar were much faster ! ~ when Umesh Yadav took 10 wickets in a home test, thoughts meandered to the way, India handled new ball – in 1970s – when the spin quartet dominated, Eknath Solkar would bowl a couple of overs, even sunil Gavaskar bowled a couple – ball would be rolled from third man and fineleg and then Bishan Bedi would take over (the quartet could consistently wrap the opponents below 200 is another aspect !)

There were times when we read about camps before Overseas tours, when Barun Burman, Jyoti Prasad .. .. came close to selection and a young lad Kapil Dev was denied extra rotis, stating that there are no pace bowlers in India.  Life has changed .. .. remember that in Chennai 1st division league there were young lads bowling fast – not only locals like Rajamannar, Bharathkumar, Arunkumar, Kalyanasundaram, TA Sekhar, Arun – but from MRF - Vivek Razdan, Subroto Banerjee and Ashish Winston Zaidi.

1980s was the tale of pace battery of West Indies – they kept coming – fearsome Holder, Roberts,  Holding, Daniel, Crofts, Garner, Marshall, Bishop, Ambrose, Patterson, Walsh .. ..  all could hurtle at great pace and make the ball climb awkwardly not only from a short length but at times coil it up from close to good length, making the life miserable for batsmen. Aussies had their own Thompson, Lillie, Pascoe, Mcdermoot, Bret Lee, Kiwis had some like Bond, Pak keep producing some genuine quickies like Akhthar, Mohd Aamir, Wasim Akram, Waqar and more.

MRF did provide a good platform and trained some Indian aspirants which include   Vivek Razdan, Javagal Srinath, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Venkatesh Prasad, R. P. Singh, Zaheer Khan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.   Sachin Tendulkar in his school days trained in the MRF Pace Foundation to become a fast bowler !  Khaleel Ahmed becomes the latest name, who joined the Indian Cricket Team for the Asia Cup coming  from MRF pace Foundation.  The MRF Pace foundation was set up in Chennai in 1987 – Dennis Lillee was the head coach, later the tall TA Sekhar, later Glen McGrath.   

This is about a real pacer who has since played 9 tests taking 18 wickets and equal no. of one dayers with 11 wickets – struggling because of nagging injuries.

In Chepauk nets, we liked watching Karsan Devraj Ghavri bowl [in Buchibabu too] ~ unfortunately, for long he had the ignominy of being the most expensive Indian bowler in Onedayers for that 83 off 11 overs in the inaugural match of Prudential World Cup 1975.  Lewis now has the dubious distinction of the most expensive ODI bowler with figures of 10-0-113-0 in that multiple record-breaking 5th One Day International between South Africa and Australia.

In Asia Cup 2014, at Fatullah, Varun Aaron was fast and furious but not fearsome… for once an Indian bowler was seen bursting out genuine speed. At  Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, he maintained an average speed of 88.2mph, and his fastest delivery clocked 93.2mph on the speedgun. That's 149.99kph. I was excited at his speed; as also that of Umesh Yadav – and both went for runs………

In a country starved of genuinely quick bowlers, Varun Aaron grabbed the headlines when he hit 153 kph during the 2010-11 Vijay Hazare Trophy final against Gujarat. Hailing from Jharkhand, Aaron has been part of the MRF Pace Academy in Chennai since he was spotted by a talent scout at the age of 15. However, his career has been marred with frequent injuries. Read in Cricinfo - Seven stress fractures have slowed down Varun Aaron's career, but he still retains the "madness" to bowl fast and hopes to work his way back into national reckoning or at least the A team. "The madness to bowl fast is still there even after seven stress fractures," Aaron told ESPNcricinfo. "If I wanted to cut down on pace or go by the safer route, I'd have done it by now. Fast bowling in India isn't easy because of the wickets and conditions too, but it's fun at the end of the day when you see the ball thudding into the keeper's gloves." India's fast-bowling resources are well-stacked now, but the desire to get back to doing what he did in Bengaluru in 2015 still exists.

Aaron last played for India in the Bengaluru Test against South Africa in 2015, when he bowled an absolute beauty that straightened late and hit the top of Hashim Amla's off stump. He has now returned to Bengaluru as one of Jharkhand's senior players for the 2018-19 Vijay Hazare knockouts. He had played a vital role in Jharkhand topping Group B with seven wins in nine games (the other two were washed out), taking at least three wickets in each of his last four matches in the enervating Chennai heat. Aaron attributed his improved fitness and rhythm to his county stint with Leicestershire, after "surprisingly" finding no takers at the 2018 IPL auction.

Aaron has added an inswinger and cutters to his repertoire, which is serving him well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. One such slower cutter tricked Tamil Nadu captain B Indrajith and tipped a thriller Jharkhand's way in the Chennai leg of the tournament. Jharkhand had lost won the Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2010-11, when Aaron cranked upto 153kph. Can they regain the title this season? Aaron, certainly, believes so.

Here is the list of fast /medium fast bowlers who have represented India, (though a long list, some names could have been missed out !) : Amar Singh; Nazir Ali; Mohammad Nissar; Rusi Modi; Dattu Phadkar; C. R. Rangachari; Gundibail Sunderam; Subrata Guha; Abid Ali; Umesh Kulkarni; Eknath Solkar; Mohinder Amarnath; Madan Lal; Karsan Ghavri; Kapil Dev; Roger Binny; Yograj Singh; Balwinder Sandhu; T. A. Sekhar; Chetan Sharma; Manoj Prabhakar; Raju Kulkarni; Bharat Arun; Rashid Patel; Sanjeev Sharma; Salil Ankola; Vivek Razdan; Atul Wassan; Javagal Srinath; Subroto Banerjee; Paras Mhambrey; David Johnson; Dodda Ganesh; Abey Kuruvilla; Debashish Mohanty; Harvinder Singh; Ajit Agarkar; Robin Singh; Ashish Nehra; Zaheer Khan; Iqbal Siddiqui; Tinu Yohannan; Lakshmipathy Balaji; Irfan Pathan; Rudra Pratap Singh; S. Sreesanth; Munaf Patel; Vikram Raj Vir Singh; Ishant Sharma; Abhimanyu Mithun; Jaydev Unadkat; Praveen Kumar; Umesh Yadav; Varun Aaron; Vinay Kumar; Bhuvneshwar Kumar; Mohammed Shami; Stuart Binny; Pankaj Singh; Hardik Pandya; Jasprit Bumrah  .. .. .. Shardul Thakur


With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Oct 2018.

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