New Delhi, Nov 8: Too much cricket is taking a toll on cricketers for sure and it’s the fast bowlers who are mostly bearing the brunt. Genuine fast bowlers are becoming a rarity, a situation quite contrary to the 1970s and 80s when several quickies dominated the world scene.
One such bowler from that era, New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee, the first to reach the 400-wicket milestone in Test cricket, feels that the amount of cricket being played today is the reason behind the dwindling number of genuinely quick bowlers.
"There are not many fast bowlers around. With the amount of cricket and different types of cricket being played now, Twenty20 being the latest addition, the pressure on fast bowlers is enormous. They have to bowl day in and day out without break," Hadlee, who’s here as the brand ambassador for Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, told TOI.
"Now you can’t imagine a fast bowler who can play for 10 years without injury. But look at the 1970s and 80s, there was a good group. I myself played for 18 years."
The 57-year-old appears concerned, yet optimistic. And for that he can thank bowlers like Ishant Sharma for providing a spark in the face of gloom.
"Ishant has left a tremendous impression as a young fast bowler. He runs in hard and straight and bowls with a good high action. He has the basic qualities of a fast bowler. He’s going to have good, bad and different type of time, but he's just 21 and is an exciting prospect. So is Stuart Broad of England."
Hadlee, whose name used to create awe in the minds of batsmen in the 80s, sees India's progression in Test cricket as a big threat to Australia's dominance.
"Clearly the Australians are facing a tough time. They are going through a rough phase. But the future of Indian cricket looks bright. It can only move upward.
"Kumble and Ganguly might have retired, but the Indian Premier League (IPL) has thrown up several youngsters with experience of playing with international players. I am sure a heap of players is ready to fill the slot," he said.
One could notice the passion in his voice when he was asked about the game back home. New Zealand cricket has been hit hard by retirement of several top players, but Hadlee sees it as a chance to rebuild the team for future. He says India's success against Australia in the recent series would give his country a boost ahead of the series between the trans-Tasman rivals, which is starting in a few days from now.
Hadlee is not appreciative of the cricket authorities' view on 'rebel' leagues like Indian Cricket League (ICL) and as he calls for treading the "middle path" to reach a consensus. He says the differences are affecting the game to a great extent.
"When the Packer revolution came in 1970s, it was called a destructive concept. It took a couple of years to sort the problem out. Hopefully in coming time the chiefs of different leagues as well as the International Cricket Council (ICC) will sort out the differences and get on with the game.
"They should allow top players to play international cricket. We have already lost Shane Bond. It's a loss for the game in the end as you would be missing out on quality."