Every time a fast bowler appears on the Indian cricket scene, there’s a sense of anticipation — will he be the “genuine” quick bowler that India has been looking for? As many as 24 fast bowlers have played Test cricket for India since Kapil Dev retired in 1994. Of these, only three — Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma — have taken 100 or more wickets. It’s a sorry statistic for which you can blame injuries, inconsistency or simply that these players were, perhaps, not good enough at the international level. Here are some of the fast bowlers who’ve now faded into obscurity.
Before he played for India, Patel was a a legend for his lethal fast bowling in domestic cricket. But Patel turned out to be a damp squib at the international level, at least in Tests. Making his debut in 2006, he played 13 matches for India, taking 35 wickets at an average of 36. He didn’t have a single five-wicket haul and was a lousy fielder as well.
If there’s one bowler who has been unlucky with injuries, it is Sreesanth. When he burst on the scene in 2006, he had pace and aggression (perhaps too much of it). But loss of form coincided with a run of injuries and Sreesanth never fulfilled his potential. In 27 Tests, he took 87 wickets but his controversial antics coupled with injuries meant that he was always on the fringes of the team.
V R V Singh
Tall and well-built, V R V Singh had all the physical attributes of a fast bowler. None other than Javagal Srinath once said he was the fastest bowler around. He played five Tests, taking eight wickets at an average of 53.47. He didn’t get any wicket in the two one-day internationals he played. Maybe he should have been given more chances, but he did fail to live up to the hype.
R P Singh
R P Singh never had too much pace to boast of but what he had were accuracy and swing. Singh debuted for India in 2006 and even took five wickets against England at Lords’. He played 13 Tests for India between 2006 and 2008 and took 40 wickets at an average of 39. With recurring injuries, Singh never had a consistent run in the side. In 2011, when he was recalled to replace the injured Zaheer Khan, many were surprised to see he had put on weight. Since then, he hasn’t featured at all for India in any format of the game.
One bowler to show promise in the last two years is Umesh Yadav. He has played nine Tests since 2010, taking 32 wickets at an average of 32.50 runs. He was one of the bright sparks on the Australia tour of 2011-12, with 14 wickets — including 5/69 at Perth — in the four Tests which India lost 4-0. If the selectors persist with him, perhaps Yadav could fill the void of a strike bowler for India.
One of the few bowlers to have breached the 150 kmph barrier in domestic cricket, Aaron is really fast. He has been impressive in the limited opportunities he’s got but seems a bit injury-prone. A recurring back problem has kept him out of the Indian team since December 2011.