New Delhi: The burning desire to succeed abroad acted as a stimulus for India to consciously create a fearsome pace battery, says former West Indies speedster Ian Bishop, who compared the current unit to intimidating Caribbean bowlers of the past.
Bishop said the trend started with the likes of Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Munaf Patel following in the footsteps of Javagal Srinath and Kapil Dev in the 2000s.
“It is perhaps the best generation of talents of fast bowling India have produced. And it started a while ago,” Bishop said on Cricbuzz in Conversation.
“We can go back to Zaheer, RP Singh, Munaf Patel and that little cluster that came through after Srinath, who followed Kapil Dev. It’s great to see,” he added.
Led by Bumrah, India has one of the most fearsome pacers. Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma add variety to the attack.
“It seemed to me from the outside that there was a deliberate attempt by India to recognise that ‘batsmen were good, but if have to win overseas, we have to get players from the MRF Pace Foundation and the NCA coming through, try to prepare pitches to encourage these faster bowlers rather than dusty turners’,” the 52-year-old said.
Bishop, who took 161 wickets in 43 Tests for West Indies, in a huge compliment, said the current Indian bowling unit reminds him of the West Indian pace battery that included the likes of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner Malcolm Marshal and Colin Croft.
“And now when you have three fast bowlers, sometimes four and an excellent spinner, it takes my mind back to the West Indies pace quartet before my generation — the Marshalls, the Holdings, the Garners, the Roberts — I’ll stick Colin Croft in there,” he said.
“There is no release point, two come out, two come on. There is no flow of runs, and there is always a threat of penetration and physical harm to a lesser extent. That is one of the things that makes this group of fast bowlers excellent,” he added.
Bishop said Jasprit Bumrah didn’t quite fit his notion of a fast bowler when he saw him for the first time. “I grew up on the history of the game and coming through, I had this whole concept of a fast bowler as someone with a long flowing run; someone like Wes Hall, Sir Richard Hadlee, Denniss Lillee, the Marshalls, the Holdings, so on and so forth. And Jasprit is exactly the opposite: it is a stuttering, short run,” he said.
Bishop said Bumrah is a generational talent, who continues to amaze him. “Until today, I’m amazed as to where the pace comes from. And he has got a serious skill set. The way he swung the ball in the Caribbean, for example, and the way he can up his pace and still apply control to it.
“And then when I hear him speak about the game and break the game down, there I see a generational talent. Once he can stay fit, he is an entire package.” he said.