Pace legend Zaheer Khan has stated that the young quick bowlers getting exposure in pace foundations and cricket academies are the main reasons why India have improved as a fast bowling nation in recent years.
"The reason for a lot of bowlers bowling quick at this stage is exposure, the awareness to various things required for a fast bowler to be ready for the big stage is available. You talk about National Cricket Academy (NCA), which started in 2000. It has been 18 years of that. It is playing a major role. The camps which (sic) keep on happening, teaching the Under-14 boys and Under-16 boys. It has a lot to contribute to that,” Zaheer quoted as saying by Firstpost.
Currently, there is an intense competition among the Indian pacers with the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya fighting for three spots in the Test team.
Moreover, the young pacers such as Basil Thampi, Mohammed Siraj, Avesh Khan and Navdeep Saini are waiting in the wings, giving India a tremendous bench strength.
"If these things are available at early age, then you can make right calls in your career. Pace academy in Chennai has been doing good work. I went to pace foundation and when I left after six months of training, I had put on about 15 kilos of weight which was sheer muscle and that was through training. My speed also went two notches up. Prior to that I was advised that you need to stay away from gym as your bowling action can be affected, you arm won't come as high as possible. I think in today's day and age, that technology and guidance is available," Khan added.
There are quite a few outstanding performances with the ball by Indian speedsters in IPL 2018 thus far. When asked to pick a current crop of pacers for the all-important England tour later this year, Zaheer said: "If you look at the combination the Indian team has been having, there is very healthy competition. Yes, in terms of talent and performances of these youngsters, they are going to go a long way in their careers. IPL has certainly been a platform where you are noticed."
Zak also made it clear that it is the sole responsibility of a bowler to manage the workload and take care of his body.
"Workload has to be managed is a fact. You have to be smart about it as well. I have always emphasised that match practice is the best practice. If you are in good rhythm and your workload is high, manage your workload. If you have to skip a few sessions because you bowled in the match and you don't feel the need, then that practice session is not going to help you. In consultation with your physios and trainers, you chalk out a formula which works for you,” Zaheer opined.
“I have never endorsed staying away from matches just because the workload was high. There was a stage when I was playing all formats of the game. I would manage the workload in the nets rather than missing a match," he elaborated.
India’s tour of England will kick off from July 3 where they will play three T20Is and as many ODIs before featuring in a five-match Test series from August 1. Zaheer is quite pleased with the schedule as he believes that it will help the team acclimatize to the conditions.
"One-and-a-half months is more than good enough time to get used to conditions in England. If you start with ODIs and T20Is, that would certainly give you enough time acclimatise to the conditions," Khan concluded.