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'Right arm Fast' - Groom and make room!
16 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 16.68 – through those standout figures Varun Aaron announced his comeback into the international fold after an agonizingly long gap due to recurring back stress fractures. Aaron claimed the most number of wickets for RCB and stood at No. 7 in the list of top Indian wicket-takers in IPL-7. His fastest delivery was recorded at an outstanding 148.96 kmh! Only a handful of pacemen, including RCB’s Mitchell Starc, clocked faster deliveries in the campaign. It wasn’t the best of seasons for us and yet this boy from Jharkhand stood tall and delivered for RCB despite adversity.
His performances for RCB caught the attention of the selectors and earned him a place in the national squad which is currently touring England. However, Aaron hasn’t started in a single Test so far. Being ‘benched’ is generally not a pleasant feeling, that too if the bowler in question showed good form prior to the series. India’s seamers, notably Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, have bowled well within their limits. However, none of the bowlers, save Ishant at Lord’s, were able to rattle England’s batsmen to a great degree. On a track where there is little assistance to the bowlers, sometimes sheer pace makes all the difference.
Cricketers become match-winners when they master the art of taking the attack to the opposition. Nowadays, almost every team possesses a genuinely fast bowler whose primary role is to take wickets in short bursts. Back in the day Brett Lee executed this role to perfection for the Aussies, Dale Steyn continues to do it for the Proteas and Varun Aaron has the potential to do it for India in the coming years. But will the selectors give Aaron the chance to prove his worth?
Over the past few years, Aaron has been criticized from all quarters. Critics raised a hue and cry about how little control Aaron had over his delivers and his recurring fitness worries. Despite the criticism, Aaron managed to stamp his authority in IPL-7 and dispel his perceived weaknesses. Having said that, Aaron himself understands that there is still scope for improvement:
“I have to be much more disciplined than I used to be because I have to keep my strength up, my fitness up. It has changed a lot.”
Sometimes all it takes is to show an ounce of faith and hope for a barrel of luck. India need to put their trust in Aaron instead of seeing him as a last-ditch option. He is only 24 so his best years are still way ahead of him. Pat him on the back and he will bend his back for you.
Right from childhood, the Jharkhand speedster knew that he had in him a special quality that very few in our country possessed – the ability to bowl fast. India need Aaron more than Aaron needs India. For that reason alone, when Aaron eventually does get his opportunity, the onus will be on him to make complete use of it.
For the time being, one has to wonder if the powers that be are serious in grooming a talent India have lacked for decades: an out-and-out Right arm Fast bowler.