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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

The quickies: Adding fire to pace
Binoo K. John, PTI
New Delhi, January 29, 2003
First Published: 20:11 IST(25/1/2003)
Last Updated: 12:39 IST(29/1/2003)

One-day cricket is all about the big hit. A batsman, throwing caution to the winds and daring logic and destiny just steps out and lofts the ball skyward. At that moment the batsman has little option but to do it. It is this element of daring that form the apogee of one-day cricket. And when the ball sails over the boundary, after hovering in the air for god knows how many heart-breaking seconds, it is the culmination of all what one-day cricket is about.

But there is another aspect to this as well. The bowler, the fast bowler specifically who against many odds tries to peg the batsman back and win for his team and his difficult art a moral victory if not anything else. The fast bowler has many weapons to face the marauding batsman, the yorker specifically, but often his is a losing battle.

When the bowlers have won, it is mostly due to clever thinking, precise targeting and strategy. This World Cup will see the giants among them try out their wares. In doing so they will present a spectacle and also give us an answer as to who is the fastest of them all.

This battle of the quickies will be fought between Australia’s Brett Lee and Pakistan’s fiery Shoaib Akhtar both of whom bowl regularly above 140km per hour. Both of them will be trying to achieve close to 150 km to settle the issue once for all. If they do that then this World Cup will belong to the bowler as well. Not just to the marauding batsman.

A look at the men who will add a lot of fire to the World Cup. All of them have an average of just above 20 pointing to the lethal quality of their bowling. There are many fast bowlers who will aspire to do damage in the World Cup but chances are that these four will top that list.

Glenn McGrath:Australia
ODI Matches: 168 Wickets: 256; Five wickets: 5 Times; Best: 5/14 ; Av: 22.8

They call him the pigeon but nothing about the way he plays suggests that he could be domesticated. Glenn McGrath is perhaps the most precise fast bowler who played cricket though he is not the fastest.

McGrath has every delivery a quickie could hope for. He can make the ball swing both ways , he has the deceptive slower one and the yorker and can bowl anything according to will and occasion. More than all that it his line and length that baffles the batsman and he can keep pegging away at the right spot over after over making the impatient batsman throw away his wicket.

A back-injury has plagued him for sometime now and it is a bit dismal to think that he might not be at his best at the World Cup. He has a couple of weeks more to recover but a back-injury is not the thing that a fast bowler likes. But his very presence as a bowler there is bound to inspire Brett Lee.

Brett Lee (Australia)
ODI matches: 53; wickets: 92; Best: 5/27; 5w: Once; Av: 23.79

He has the build of a fast bowler and a run-up so fast that to the batsman he will be just a blur. So there is no point trying to imagine how fast the ball will be. Any batsman facing him will be hoping more on luck than on technique. Lee is not as accurate as McGrath and has gone for runs.

But he spells danager.

Lee has had to correct his action after he was pulled up for suspected chucking. He seems to have got over it. With McGrath bowling from the other end, Lee has the choice to go all out not worrying whether he might get hit.

Quickies always hunted in pairs and what better hunting partner to have than MCGrath. Lee has taken good advantage of that fact.

A good spell from Lee means three wickets down for 20 runs in three overs.

When he strikes, he really creates a lot of damage.


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