A few years ago, all the pundits, former cricketers, and fans were lamenting and writing obituaries about the death of top-quality fast bowling in International cricket. They reminisced about the good old days of Jeff Thomson and Denis Lille, they talked about the great West Indian fast bowlers of the 1970s and 1980s- [Patrick Patterson, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Graner]; they would even rave about the great fast-bowling units of the nineties- the Wasim and Waqars’, Alan Donald, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose or about the millennial poster boys of fast bowling- Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee.
But that is no longer the case in World Cricket. In the past two-three years, we have seen the re-emergence of fast bowlers in the International arena. Whether it is the quartet of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood for Australia, the likes of Kagiso Rabdada and Lungisani Ngidi for the Proteas, Jofra Archer for England, the trio of Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder for the men from the Caribbean.
The likes of Neil Wagner, Lockie Ferguson for the Kiwis, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah for Pakistan or the pace-attack of India-led by Jasprit Bumrah and ably supported by Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Umesh Yadav- one can undoubtedly vouch for the resurgence of fast bowling era.
The era of fast bowling is back?
Fast bowling is once again the flavour of International cricket and the latest ICC Test rankings for bowlers testify it to the hilt. Just a few years ago, the top-five of the ICC Test rankings for bowlers would be generally dominated by Ashwin or Jadeja from India and a certain left-arm spinner from Sri Lanka- Rangana Herath. That has all changed in the past season or so. Apart from Ravichandran Ashwin- who is at the 9th position- there are no spinners in the top-ten rankings for bowlers.
The numero-uno spot is obviously occupied by Pat Cummins, who finished as the leading wicket-taker in Tests last calendar year, followed by the relentless Neil Wagner of New Zealand with the likes of Jason Holder [3th], Kagiso Rabada [4th], Mitchell Starc [5th], Jasprit Bumrah [6th], James Anderson [7th], Vernon Philander [8th] and Kemar Roach [10th].
That is not it. If you go down further in the rankings and check the holders between 11-20, you’ll find just two spinners in the form of Nathan Lyon [15th] and Ravindra Jadeja [17th] while the rest of the spots are occupied by the fast bowlers.
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