There is a perception amongst common cricket fans that India is a graveyard when it comes to producing quality pace bowlers. After Kapil Dev there have been only Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan who glorified the legacy of fast bowling in India. There is a hue and cry amongst Indian cricket experts about the lack of pace bowlers whereas India's neighbour Pakistan tends to deliver speed merchants like a smiling paddy field. Pakistan is a fertile land for fast bowlers whereas India are the opposites.
But is India really incapable of producing quality pace bowlers? I slightly disagree with this concept. Over the years, India has produced quick men, though not as gifted as those in Pakistan. Though Kapil and Srinath and Zaheer did India proud there have plenty of others who showed much promises only to fade away in the course of time.
These include Ajit Agarkar, Harvinder Singh, Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth and Munaf Patel, among others; all bowlers who emerged as encouraging packages but in the long run did not cope with the demands of international cricket.
There have been other reasons offered for their overall failures to become leading fast bowlers. In my opinion, these young prodigies lacked a proper mentor to survive in the competitive world of international cricket. They were never given the type of nurturing which is necessary for a pace bowler to accomplish a 10-year career stint with success.
Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis burst onto the scene as prodigies but their long term success was the result of Imran Khan's astute guidance. Similarly, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander are talents of high quality but for their successful existence they can't deny the contributions of Allan Donald. But sadly, the promising Indian pacemen were never under the watchful eyes of a true master.
As a matter of fact, India does have the mentor but he has been underutilized. The MRF Pace Academy is headed by foreigners whereas in their own land there is Kapil, the man who had given India hope and a shot of pace with his nippy, effective swing bowing. Since Kapil's retirement, India have only summoned the man in 1999 to coach a young side.
The relationship between Kapil and the BCCI is a sore one and for which Kapil was aloof from Indian cricket. A legend like Kapil doesn't deserve such treatment. For the future of Indian pace bowling, the BCCI should've thought of getting benefited from Kapil. Kapil would have been ideal for the likes of Munaf or Irfan, providing necessary guidance. He would have been the perfect person to nurture these younger talents. But it was not to be.
Indian cricket is going through a transition phase. Such times often produce young talents and Bhuvneshwar Kumar is one of them. Rather than being accurate, his ability to swing the ball at will is brilliant. But Kumar should be nurtured and that is where Kapil should come in. Only an Indian pace bowler can read the minds of a young quick. The Indian culture has always been too busy in focusing on batting talents; pace bowlers have rarely been their subject of interest.
It is not true that fast bowlers don't emerge in India. They do, but worryingly they fade away due to improper man management. There had been no person brought forward to build these young talents. The time has come to seek Kapil's help. Whether the BCCI has Kapil in their plans remains a moot question. I hope good sense prevails.