Highlighting the importance of old-fashioned swing bowling even in today’s slam-bang T20 era, legendary Indian cricketer Kapil Dev on Friday said swing can outdo pace as whenever the ball moves even the best of batsmen have difficulties in dealing with it, while in conversation with senior sports writer and journalist Ayaz Memon on day 2 of the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
“I’m not happy with fast bowlers (these days). The first ball cannot be bowled with a cross seam. Players in IPL realised that swing is more important than pace. All the bowlers who were moving the ball at pace were more successful.
“Even Sandeep (Sharma), who bowled between 115-120 kmph was more difficult because he was moving the ball. Bowlers have to understand it’s not the pace, or cross seam, can you swing the ball? They should learn but are running away from the art. They are learning the slower ball or the knuckle ball but not the basic.
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“Natarajan was my hero of this IPL. Young boy was fearless and bowling so many yorkers. That’s why I say not yesterday or today, yorker will be the best ball even hundred years from now” – Kapil Dev said during HTLS 2020.
Kapil gave the examples of Wasim Akram, Glenn McGrath, Richard Hadlee to stress on the importance of swing bowling while adding that if young bowlers don’t how to swing the ball then all the knuckle balls and slowers ones become a waste.
“Keep your wrist straight, hold the ball seam-up. Whenever the ball moves Test matches become important. Wasim, Botham, Willis, Hadlee, McGrath, look how good they were. The art of swing bowling should come back. Learning the knuckle ball and all is fine. If you don’t know how to swing the ball, everything is waste,” Kapil added.
When asked about the current crop of Indian fast bowlers led by the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Ishant Sharma and what has led to this fast bowling revolution in the country, Kapil said that he felt proud that India’s pacers are getting respect and are being recognised all over the world.
“I think IPL also and the value of fast bowling they understand now. I read a column last week when Brian Lara said I don’t mind facing Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath or Zaheer Khan, but I wouldn’t like to face Bumrah. It was such a great feeling for me. Our top fast bowler has been recognised by a top player in the world.
“ We have started giving respect to these fast bowlers because they are winning the matches. Shami, Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar, Ishant hats off to them. And there are so many who are waiting in the pipeline. I have no words to express my happiness,” Kapil said while showering praise on the current generation of Indian fast bowlers.
Talking about India’s rise in Test cricket, Kapil said India’s ability to pick 20 wickets in a Test match has seen them rise to the top.
“India’s rise in the last 10 to 15 years has been because we can take 20 wickets in a match. We have always had spinners, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan, now Ashwin, Jadeja, Chahal and Kuldeep. The spinners are there but now we also have the pacers.
“No country today can give India bouncy wickets. In our times they would say ‘let us give them bouncy wickets and they would be 120 all out’….today its not like that and I am happy about that,” Kapil said.
Kapil Dev was India’s first genuine fast bowler and all-rounder, who made a name for himself with his swing bowling and fearless batting down the order. He led the team from the front in the 1983 World Cup as India shocked favourites West Indies to become world champions.
Kapil Dev’s marvellous catch to dismiss Vivian Richards in the final put India on the road to a momentous victory against Clive Lloyd’s all-conquering team from the Caribbean. The 1983 World Cup win revolutionised cricket in the country as millions of youngsters took to the sport, which eventually led to India’s rise as one of the global powerhouses of the game.
Kapil ended his career as the (then) highest wicket-taker in Test cricket as he broke Richard Hadlee’s record in the twilight of his career. Post his retirement he had a brief stint as the coach of the Indian team, before becoming one of the leading voices in cricket commentary.