Here's How Modern Day Cricket Has Led To The Death Of The Fearsome Fast Bowler
Cricket has always been a very special game. The contest between the bat and ball has always been competitive.
The games has also massively evolved over time, and rule changes have become more common. The cricket of the 1970s to the latter part of 1990s, was a tussle where bowlers had batsmen wrapped in fear and constant dilemma.
The likes of Dennis Lilee, Michael Holding, Jeff Thomson, Joel Garner, and Malcolm Marshall, terrorised batsmen in the 1970s with their pace, bounce and zip. Being a batsman in that era was extremely brave and if you could negotiate these bowlers and score runs, you definitely had some real steel and talent.
The game during the period was sedate, but there was no shortage of excitement. The runs came at a slow pace, much often to the credit of fast bowlers who were on top of their game. There was no such thing as field restrictions, or a quota on number of bouncers a bowlers could bowl.
A score over 250 in an ODI was considered massive, and with bowlers of the calibre of Holding, Lilee, Garner, it was always going to be herculean and only extraordinary batting would help you overcome the deadly and devastating pace bowling.
Not just in ODIs, but Tests too, facing a steep as difficult as Malcolm Marshall, the batsmen were always in the firing line. The ball zooming past your face at pace, it was never a good sight for the batsman.
After the likes of Lilee, Holding, Thompson, Garner, Marshall, called it quits, a new breed of fearsome fast bowlers made their bow in 1980's.
The frightening pace and bounce of Courtney Walsh, Allan Donald, and Curtly Ambrose made an entrance in the late 80s, and continued to terrify the batsmen.
It was also the time when one of the greatest fast bowlers ever, Wasim Akram started to get the batsmen dancing with his monumental and otherworldly swing bowling.
The 1990s was dominated by some exemplary fast bowling, with Ambrose, Walsh, Akram, at the forefront of it.
After the turn of the century, there has been no dearth of great fast bowlers, but they haven't been as effective and as fearsome as their predecessors.
Also, the rules changes haven't helped either. Field restrictions early on and now powerplays, limit on the bouncers, big bats, batting friendly pitches, short boundaries, marginal calls going in favour of the batsman, fast bowlers have suffered as a result of the revamp in the regulations.
Yes, the likes of Glenn Mcgrath, Brett Lee, and Dale Steyn, in their prime have been deadly but they did not instill fear as the quicks of the 70s and 80s.
James Anderson who continues to get better and is the leading wicket taker among active bowlers in Tests, is an excellent swing bowler, but even he isn't the 70s category.
Even Shoaib Akhtar's effectiveness went down in his later years. It is not that the pacers are no longer lethal now, but no particular fast bowler holds that aura over batsmen like in the good old days.
The rule changes have led to batsmen scoring runs at will. Double hundred which was synonymous with Tests only, is now a gettable feat in ODIs. A score over 300 hundred is not at all safe, and even scores over 400 have been chased down.
In the current era, batsmen are dominating the game and rules work in their favour as well. High scoring games have become a norm and bowlers have suffered massively. It is not that bowlers have become ineffective, but just that have become a little less menacing.
As the game continues to evolve, the new rules are making it more difficult for bowlers to impose their authority and making it easier for the batsmen to use the rules in their favour and dominate the battle.