Rahul Dravid: Pacers Bumrah, Shami, Ishant, Bhuvi and Umesh will inspire generations

Lucknow: It has taken India decades to get to today's position where three fast bowlers mopped up all the 19 wickets that fell in the Kolkata Test just a few days ago. The trio of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma not only grabbed wickets but also intimidated batsmen with the pink ball under lights, so much so that Bangladesh had to introduce two concussion subs in the match. The past Indian batsmen must be envious of the present pace battery giving more than chin music to the rival batters. A group of five to six fast bowlers able to deliver thunderbolts in excess of 140 kmph to rattle the opposition is a rare sight in Indian cricket.

Nari Contractor, Anshuman Gaekwad, Mohinder Amarnath and Rahul Dravid are a few names that come readily to mind who were felled by rival fast bowlers. How they would have wished India had similar fast bowlers at that time to give it back to the opponents.

Fast bunch

Dravid, the head of cricket at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, feels that it may have taken India a long time to reach this stage where pace bowlers are consistently outperforming spinners even at home, but it is here to stay. According to him, India will continue to have a bunch of good fast bowlers.

Rahul Dravid "Now, even at the under-19 level, we have very good fast bowlers. Last time [in the 2018 under-19 World Cup], we had three of them—Kamlesh [Nagarkoti], Shivam [Mavi] and Ishan [Porel]. This time [for the 2020 under-19 World Cup in South Africa], you will also see some good fast bowlers in the team. I think that's fantastic [for Indian cricket]", Dravid said while watching India U-19 play against Afghanistan U-19 here on Thursday.

So what has led to India producing a host of good pace bowlers? "I think when you have role models and you have heroes like the senior team… I think what Ishant, Shami, Umesh, Bhuvneshwar [Kumar] and [Jasprit] Bumrah are doing is they are actually in a way becoming role models for a lot of younger generation of boys who believe now they can be fast bowlers, bowl fast and be successful as fast bowlers in India.

"I think it is great to see that. Obviously, we had people like Kapil [Dev], Sri [Javagal Srinath], Zaheer [Khan] and all those in the past. But now, as a group, probably this is one of the best fast bowling attacks we have ever had. I think that's a great inspiration for a lot of these young boys [playing at the U-19 level], which will ensure India continues to produce quality pace bowlers. Not one or two, but a battery that can win matches for the country," Dravid explained.

When asked about injuries to young pacers like Nagarkoti and Mavi, Dravid said it is one issue that cannot be avoided. "Bowling fast is quite strenuous, especially on growing up lads' bodies. We at NCA have to ensure that the workload of these young players is monitored and if they do get injured they get a proper rehab," he said.

'Hire Indian coaches'

Dravid also backed Indian coaches to get better exposure. "I believe we've got some very good coaches, a lot of good people. I'm fully confident [about their abilities]. Just as we have a lot of talent in the cricket department, we have a lot of talent in the coaching department. We need to give them confidence and time to flourish. I'm sure they will do it. It does sometimes disappoint me when a lot of our boys don't get opportunities as assistant coaches in the IPL.

Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar

"Honestly, there are so many Indian players in the IPL. There's so much of local knowledge [among our coaches]. I feel a lot of teams could actually benefit from using a lot of our Indian coaches in the IPL. They know the Indian players better, they understand them better. Even as assistant coaches… there is a lot of talent and ability. It just needs to be given opportunity and flourish.

"Through the NCA we're also going to try and help a lot of our coaches. I think a lot of IPL teams miss a trick by not using more domestic talent in the coaching area and the talent identification area, even if it is as assistants. That's my personal opinion," Dravid concluded.

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