New Delhi, June 4: Very impressed with India's tearaway quick Umesh Yadav, legendary West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts feels he is the "first genuine" pacer from the country but needs to be a tad more aggressive.
"I am very impressed with Yadav. He is the first genuine fast bowler that India has got. I don't think before him India had a genuine fast bowler. Another boy (Mohammed) Shami is also good. But I want both of them to be a bit more aggressive. And when I mean aggressive, I don't mean one needs to swear," Roberts, one of the fearsome fast bowlers of all time, told PTI during an interaction.
Asked about Indian quicks from the time he has been playing cricket, Roberts made it clear that there weren't too many on the horizon before Yadav came along.
'Srinath was India's first ever quick bowler'
"Let me just tell you that there is a lot of difference between a fast bowler and quick bowler. Kapil Dev was a swing bowler but he was not a quick bowler. India's first ever quick bowler that I saw was Javagal Srinath but again he was not in that league of fast men like Yadav, who can hit mid-90's.
"You have to know one thing, no one can teach you how to bowl fast and develop an aggressive attitude," Roberts sounded like a typical fast bowler, still gunning for an opposition batsman.
The 64-year-old Roberts, who would 'Mentor' St Lucia Zouks side in upcoming Caribbean Premier League (CPL), also gave a peek into his thoughts about how he would have bowled to a Chris Gayle or an AB de Villiers.
"The kind of heavy bats that these guys use, I would have forced them to go for hook shots. I would have used the short ball more effectively. The kind of heavy bats they use, it's not easy to quickly get into position for a hook shot. But nowadays, even fast bowlers are trying to hit the length rather than bowl bouncers," he lamented.
And that's the reason why Roberts is not at all happy that in the name of variation and change-ups, bowlers are delivering slower balls.
Balance between bat and ball
"Variety is not about slowing up but also quickening up. I always see that for bowlers, the change-ups mean that delivering a slower ball. Why can't change of pace be if someone who is bowling around 88-90 mph increases it upto 95 mph.
"It's a sudden increase of pace and that's also a variation. It just can't be a batsman's game. Cricket is played between bat and ball and not just the 'Bat'," said the man, who Sunil Gavaskar had termed as the best fast bowler of his generation.
Question him about how a lot of fast bowlers, especially from the Indian sub-continent, lose out on pace after starting their careers as quick bowlers, Roberts blames it on a misconception that has plagued a generation of fast bowlers.
"You bowl fast because you have strong legs and not because you have strong shoulders. Most of the fast bowlers in a Test match are at their fastest between 10 am-11 am in the first hour. But if you are strong in your legs, you will be able to bowl as fast as your first spell between 3 pm to 5 pm," Roberts tried to explain and also gave a solution for injury-prone bowlers.
"Rather than building your shoulders, focus on your back. cores and legs. To maintain the level of pace, you need a strong abdominal region."
'Youngsters are not prepared to work hard'
Unlike a lot of cricketers from the past generation, Roberts is not against T20 cricket. Contrary to popular notion, Roberts believes that this format can prove to be a good learning ground for fast bowlers.
"No fast bowler in the world likes to see himself getting hit for a six over his head. All that takes to make a fast bowler get angry is being hit for a six. All I want to see in youngsters is ability to bowl as fast as they can and not worry about anything else."
Ask him about dearth of good fast bowlers in the West Indies, Roberts blames it on lack of hard work.
"In the West Indies, youngsters are not prepared to work hard, which is required to bowl fast. But to bring the youth of Caribbean back on the field, T20 and especially the Caribbean Premier League could prove to be very important. It will also help in our youth development programme," the Antiguan signed off sounding hopeful about revival of the game in the islands.