First there was Dilip Kumar next Amitabh and then there is day light when we talk about bollywood superstars. One could argue the self proclaimed King Khan could be the next big thing. But again Aamir Khan with his heart touching and versatile performance could give SRK a run for his money.
Running with the same analogy INDIA have struggled to produce the next bowling superstar since Kapil and Srinath. One could argue that Zak could have come close if only he was injury free.
It was sometime in the early 90's a sober looking thick mustached bowler with an in-swinger that broke Lanka De-Silva's teeth emerged into the scene. Srinath was a bowler with genuine aggression in his deliveries not in his looks or words. Neither did he swear nor abuse the batsman but seldom rattled their stumps n bones, was rightly called the Mysore express.
Partner-in-Crime Prabharkar was a genuine talent but never rose to the occasion. He was a captain's dream, opening the bowling and batting in the same game was a rare talent (only possible in gully cricket) which only a few have achieved it. His ability to swing the ball late and both ways made him special, but lack of discipline in his bowling yielded . And his in-ability to bounce back and resort to spin coupled with politics and fixing allegation closed the doors.
If Steve Waugh started to bowl the back-of-the-hand slow ball, Venkatesh Prasad mastered it. He along with Srinath formed a in-swinger-leg-cutter duo which had only made Ravi Shastry's boundary-to-end-the-over famous. Prasad's lack of pace coupled with slower-ball over kill not only ended his career but ended india's next.
Amidst this chaos there arose a lean but large hearted Agarkar who surprised the bastmen with his extra pace. He had the skill and hunger that a fast bowler needed to succeeded, but his appetite to consume runs back fired more often that not. The fact that he leaked far too many runs completely overshadowed the valuable wickets he took. 288 ODI wickets @ 27 a piece in comparison with Srinath's 315 @ 28 and Zaheer's 278 @ 29 isn't bad, but that fact that he wasn't reliable just explains why cricket is just beyond numbers.
Year 2000 was a turning point for INDIAN cricket, spectators finally saw an INDIAN running in and firing yorkers and bouncers at will. Finally INDIA had a bowler who could scare and menace the batsmen, Zaheer had the right attitude and aptitude a fast bowler needed to possess; but his injuries and weak lower body yielded far too frequently. But post English county stint he re-invented himself and has emerged more skillful and tactful south paw since the great Wasim. He still has a long way to go to be the 3rd best.
Nehra possessed a skill no fast bowler ever exhibited before; laziness & lack of commitment. He is a perfect example for right aptitude and wrong attitude; bad mouthing and sledging your own fielders can only take you so far. Couple that with a weak and fragile body is just short of disaster.The highest point of his career was in the 2003 WC where he and Zaheer were instrumental in INDIAN's success, but that is the farthest he could go.
Irfan Pathan with little or no first class experience had the right attitude and hunger a fast bowler needed to possess, he achieved instant success both at home and abroad. Coupled with decent batting touted him to be next Kapil, he couldn't bear the weight of the expectation. Generally fast bowlers gain pace and learn variation during their learning process which Irfan didn't. Learning to swim or cycle is a skill that can't be unlearned, so is bowling. But Irfan began to unlearn his swing that made him what he was. Either it was a technical issue or a mental block he never could get back his original self. He made multiple come back and each time looked mediocre at best. Now with dozens of fast bowlers emerging from all parts of the country one can only hope we get back the original Pathan.
That one extra over bowled by Ishant to Ponting is still one of the best overs by an INDIAN. After 4 years and 45 test matches Ishant is just 23 years and he should have been a spear head now but still bowls like a new-comer. He neither can be played as a strike bowler nor as a bowler who stems the flow of runs. He has the right attitude but one can doubt the aptitude. One can just hope that he tests the batsman's patience and not the selector's
With little of what we have seen Umesh Yadav has shown a lot of promise, genuine swing pace bowler. Finally INDIA gets its first bowler who looks like one, wide shoulder and big biceps helps him generate pace. One can only hope that he holds on to the burden of bulk of the bowling on his wide and broad shoulders and keep our hunt for the Teesra Kaun - ON