Just what is it about Indian medium-pacers? They burst onto the international scene full of promise and pace, but a couple of seasons later, the speed is gone, the wickets dry up and suddenly, all that promise and the hopes fade.
If Ishant Sharma’s slide is not arrested, it will be
particularly debilitating to India’s thrust in world cricket for he is one of those rare specimens — the out-and-out quick Indian bowler.
There have been many questions about why Ishant has dropped off the radar, but there’s no denying he has. The teenager who opened up Ricky Ponting like a can of beans in Australia 18 months ago was consistently bowling above 140 kmh, often hitting 145-plus. Now, Ishant is dawdling in the early 130s, and the bite is missing.
If it’s a matter of bowling technique, there isn’t too much to fear, for before long one coach or another will be able to set him back on the right path. The concern, however, is just how well Ishant’s workload has been managed.
Since 2008, Ishant has been a fixture in all three forms of the game, and has sent down 4663 balls for India alone. While that may not sound like an awful lot, it has involved about 122 playing days, a not inconsiderable number in practice and travel and still more of the same for Delhi.
For someone who expends a serious amount of energy in delivering each ball - this is not some military medium dibbly-dobbly bowler we’re talking about — the workload needs careful management. While the captain’s keenness to bowl Ishant is understandable, he needs looking after.
The time may have come, though, to take a long, hard look at how India treats its fast bowlers, and perhaps develop a bigger pool and rotate players to avoid fatigue and injury.