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Reluctance to groom pacers hits India hard

A deficiency that was never taken seriously grows to huge proportions

Gulf News

Ever since I started covering cricket, I have always come across this particular question: why can’t India produce genuine pacers while neighbours Pakistan come up with them in large numbers?

Every time a Pakistan pacer runs through the Indian batting line-up, this question emerges but fades away as quickly as a fast bowler’s delivery.

Indian cricket authorities have never bothered to resolve this issue because they keep getting a bunch of class batsmen capable of erasing the deficiency of genuine pacers.

And when the Indian batsmen struggle on the bouncy wickets in South Africa or Australia, against their top class pacers, once again the excuse mostly offered is that the struggle is due to lack of fast pitches in India.

This is also forgotten quickly on return or as soon as India beat any another country on their home soil. Thus the basic problem of dearth of good pacers continues.

Any deficiency in a team that remains unsolved finally grows to gigantic proportions, and this is what has exactly happened to Indian cricket now. With the golden generation of Indian batsmen fading away one by one, and Zaheer Khan — the only pacer about whom they were proud of nearing the twilight of his career — India now look as vulnerable as ever.

It is a fact that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has never genuinely looked into producing good pacers. If at all India had a few pacers, it was purely due to the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai, which was never supported by the BCCI.

It is really surprising why the world’s richest cricket board never bothered to hire Australia’s legendary pacer Dennis Lillee as their fast bowling coach.

Even Lillee’s best assistant, T.A. Sekar, has never been hired or consulted for tips, though the BCCI knows that pacers like Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan regularly visit him to regain their lost touch.

Every time the BCCI creates a new Grounds and Pitches committee, one gets to hear that plans are on to create fast and bouncy wickets. Yet, today there is no Indian wicket where one can see the ball fly or bounce.

If Dubai, with its tough weather conditions, can create fast wickets similar to those in Perth, why isn’t such a wicket not created in at least one Indian stadium?

The days of being a strong team without good pacers have ended, with every country following scientific methods to produce good pacers. The alarm bells have never been ringing so loudly for India like as they are now. It is time to wake up to reality.