Being a bowler these days is no easy task, especially fast bowlers. The fans either demand a lot more than what’s needed from them or they just ignore their existence, while enjoying the craftsmanship of the batsmen. The shortest format’s growth in the last decade hasn’t helped their cause and the game is not getting any easier for that clan.
Yet, there are always a special bunch of players who either punch above their weights or set standards that defy the current trends. This generation of cricketers too has seen some outstanding fast bowlers, who make us reminisce about the great speedsters of the yester generation who induced fear factor like no other in the hearts of batsmen.
There are a few fast bowlers who definitely possess the talent to perfect the short delivery to such an extent, it almost becomes scary.
Here are the ten best exponents of the short deliveries in the current generation:
1. Jofra Archer
There was so much jeopardy surrounding Jofra Archer‘s position in the English World Cup squad and finally, the management decided to take him in as a replacement for David Willey. What a decision it turned out to be, as he bowled the Super Over in the final and just about did the job for his country. Archer has been one of the sensations in the fast bowling business in recent years.
Archer has a very short run-up and generates most of his pace from his arms. The amount of pace he is able to generate with that run-up is pretty difficult to comprehend and is a very rare talent. He is almost there as far as consistency to hit the right channels is concerned. It is always difficult to control the lines at his pace, but he does a pretty good job to direct it straight to the batsmen’s head.
It was his bouncer which roped in the sport’s first concussion substitution and unfortunately, he threatens to do that many more times. He is still very young and will only get better with time. Going by how well he’s doing in formats, he clearly has significant ambitions for the coming years.
2. Jasprit Bumrah
When Jasprit Bumrah first burst into the scene in the Indian Premier League, his action seemed way too unorthodox and out of the league. People had their reservations over his future success, but the man from Gujarat kept shrugging past every obstacle to finally make his debut in the 2015/16 tour of Australia. Right from the outset, he showed what he is capable of doing.
Bumrah’s slinging action helps him nip those bouncers sharply towards the right-handed batsmen. For the left-handed batsmen, it moves away sharply and is very difficult for them to connect the pull/hook. He is hitting the 140 kph mark regularly as well and when he is in the rhythm, he can be as quick as anyone in the world currently.
He is beginning to join the leagues of greatness with every passing day, although some do fear his action will not let him sustain in the industry for long. He has been a joy to witness, without any debates, and Indian fans will be hoping for that to continue for some time.
3. Ishant Sharma
Could be the height advantage doing the talking, but Ishant Sharma has been ruthless with his short deliveries in the last few years. One of the very best Test match bowlers of this decade, Ishant produced some memorable spells in England, New Zealand and not to forget, his most recent exploits in India’s first pink-ball Test in Kolkata.
Coming to his short deliveries, Ishant puts in a lot of effort into bowling them in the right areas and it is pretty evident on match day. He hits the bulls-eye on most occasions and almost all the big wickets he took in his 7-fer spell at the Lord’s came via his proclivity to bowl the bouncer well.
Ishant Sharma has been underrated for quite a while now, maybe his lack of results in the limited-overs hampers his reputation, but he has done a tremendous job with the red ball. He is the third-highest wicket-taker among Indian fast bowlers, only behind Kapil Dev and Zaheer Khan. He has a great chance of taking over one of them before he calls time on his career.
4. Pat Cummins
One of the world’s most highly rated bowlers, Patrick Cummins has developed into a lethal weapon in Tim Paine’s armoury in the last few years. Cummins rose to limelight when he was 19 and was touching the high 140s for fun, but it took a lot of time for the man to develop his game. He now forms a lethal trio with Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, making them one of the favourites to contest for the Test championship title.
Cummins puts in a rigorous shift every time he is on the field. He hits the deck hard and there is so much venom in his bouncers, it is almost difficult for the batsmen to not get into trouble. Since he is quick, it is not so easy to duck out of the way and although a top-edge could fetch a boundary, the channels he bowls do not support the pull significantly.
One of his biggest goals in the coming years will be to make it to the finals of the World Test Championship and perhaps win it. He definitely has the knack to shuffle his lengths to perfection and has the pace to induce some fear, making him one of the best exponents of the short ball.
5. Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada is quick, exciting, exuberant and attractive with what he does. He has all the essential components required to make up a world-class fast bowler, but what puts him a little behind is his inability to keep up to the expectations surrounding him. Having said that, Dale Steyn believes the youngster could be his heir – quite a compliment really.
The South African is one of the few bowlers in the world who can intimidate the batsmen with his short deliveries. He is blessed with a good height as well, extracting some additional bounce off the track. One area where he still can get better is controlling his lines, which isn’t easy at the pace he shoots his missiles.
Yet, he has shown enough promise to tout him as one of the best in the current lot of future stars. He is a long distance away from achieving that. He is going through a rough patch with the team struggling in all departments, but is expected to come back stronger than ever before.
6. Neil Wagner
One of the most underrated fast bowlers in recent times, Neil Wagner deserves a lot more credit for the good work he has done over the years. He is quick, quirky and really tests the batsmen’s temperament with his cunning change in lengths. Wagner is quite an exponent of the art of fast bowling.
His performance in the recent Test against New Zealand is a great example. He bowled the short deliveries with such precision, even the greatest Test cricketer of this generation was left nerved and unsettled. He had quite a tussle with Matthew Wade as well, which was Test cricket at its quintessential best.
Another one of the bowlers whose work-rate very rarely comes down, Wagner tends to keep his energy levels as high as it can get it, let that be the 1st or the 90th over of the day. He is going to pose many more questions in the coming years and will be at the heart of things for the Kiwis on their quest for global glory.
7. Sheldon Cottrell
Blessed with pace and physique, Sheldon Cottrell has the knack of pulling out some majestic deliveries from time to time. His workload on the field is always top-notch, let that be as a bowler or as a fielder. Cottrell has lacked consistency in the little time he has spent under the spotlight, but he has a lot of time to get better at it.
He tends to shuffle his lengths a little more than what is required, which can keep the batsman guessing, but it also creates confusion for him. Keeping all of that aside, he has a good short delivery which can get the batter unsettled. The effort he puts in to hit the deck hard always makes up for some good bounce off the surface and his good form can solve a lot of problems for the Windies.
Cottrell will be desperate to soon get an IPL contract and also make it big in Test cricket, but his style of bowling suits the limited over formats a little more. His career progression will make up for a lot of interesting content in the coming years.
8. Mohammed Shami
Perhaps India’s best bowler in Test cricket over the last two or three years, Mohammed Shami has been ruthless and relentless. His hunger and desire to pick wickets puts him apart from the rest and his recent exploits have been too difficult to handle. With him, Ishant and Bumrah in top form, India boasts of one of the best bowling trios in the world.
Shami is a master at mixing his lengths up and knows exactly how to set a trap. He will make a batsman push on his front foot for a few deliveries and will drop one bombshell of a short one to stagger him. It works well the other way round for him with the pace he got, hence he is an all-round bowling package a captain dreams to work with.
Shami has picked up bulk of the chunk in India’s recent Test assignments and is expected to become more lethal in the coming years. He will relish bowling in Australia and New Zealand, which are two of the toughest assignments India have in the Test championship.
9. Lockie Ferguson
Another one of those rare cricketers who doesn’t have a long run-up and generates all the pace just with his arms, Lockie Ferguson is a nightmare to deal with when he is on song. His cherries tend to hurry off the surface and while he’s steaming into bowl, it never feels like the ball will come in so quickly to the batsman.
This is one area where Ferguson has a huge advantage while pulling out his bouncers. Of the many games he has played thus far in international cricket, we can notice how batsmen fail to get on top of the ball when he throws it short or they just duck away, with great difficulty. It isn’t easy to time your moves precisely against this man.
Ferguson hasn’t played a lot of Test cricket yet and is not a part of the red-ball plans in his country, but could soon rise up the ranks with the talent and ability he possesses. It could soon get impossible for Kane Williamson to not prefer him.
10. Mitchell Starc
Bouncers aren’t Mitchell Starc’s favourite weapon, he has perfected some deadly yorkers better than any other cricketer in the world currently. The Australian speedster has quite a lethal bouncer, although it isn’t his forte.
Over the years, the left-arm seamer worked hard on hitting the right areas on a regular basis. He does that pretty well while bowling the full-length deliveries and since he is so good at it, his short deliveries take the batsmen by surprise. By the time a batter can comprehend what happened, the ball will fly through whistling past his ears, such is his pace.
One of the mantras of Starc’s success over the years is bowling in one particular area where he believes his strengths lie. He hits the deck hard and short on not many occasions, but when he does it, he does it pretty well.
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