Fast bowling is primarily a state of mind: Ian Chappell
Genuine quicks are rare and should be celebrated, writes Ian Chappell.cricket Updated: Oct 24, 2011 23:24 IST
It's not surprising young Patrick Cummins' arrival in the Australian team has created a lot of interest; genuine fast bowlers are only slightly behind swing bowling and leg-spin as vital factors in cricket's success.
The genuine fast bowler puts the test into Test match cricket. He tests the courage of batsmen, and whilst this has been diluted in the era of substantial protective equipment, any player who is the slightest bit apprehensive will still be found out. Nothing stirs more excitement like the sight of a Brett Lee charging in off a long run to be confronted by a belligerent Virender Sehwag. The mystique surrounding "the first ball of a Test match" is built on such confrontations.
While there are genuine concerns about the adverse effect T20 might have on the technique and artistry of batting, a close watch also needs to be kept on what it does to genuine fast bowlers. Already we're witnessing a variety of slower deliveries being paraded by the quicker bowlers.
While a bowler needs to vary his pace in a fast scoring game like T20, former West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts once asked; "Why don't fast bowlers change up instead of down?"
The Australian selectors in picking the 18-year-old Cummins have adhered to another of Roberts' pearls of wisdom. He believed that fast bowlers only had a few years of genuine pace and it was important to "pick them while they're still quick".
It will be a pity if the hectic international scheduling leads to a reduction in the number of genuine quicks. There aren't enough of them around now that the game can afford to turn those few who dream of bowling quick into medium fast trundlers.
Fast bowling is a state of mind as much as a physical skill. Dennis Lillee once said; "As I stopped at the top of my mark I imagined the ball still rising as it smacked into Rod Marsh's gloves."Let's hope Cummins and youngsters like him are born with a similar vivid imagination. It takes a lot of courage to imagine that scenario when, in reality, what the bowler often sees off in the distance is an armour-clad batsman standing at the end of twenty metres of lifeless turf.
The writer is a former Australia captain and a commentator.