Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Are modern bowlers really faster?
But Jon Agnew said that the modern bowlers are convinced they are faster than anyone who has gone before them. Aren't today sprinters and throwers better than their predecessors?
Let me offer a couple of pieces of evidence in favour of the idea that bowlers were faster 20 or 30 years ago.
First, George Ferris. He was an Antiguan fast bowler who played for Leicestershire in the 1980s. He was quick - often too quick for the comfort of county batsmen.
I remember watching him play for the Leicestershire against Warwickshire in 1987 - one of the last county championship games staged at Hinckley. Warwickshire batted first on an unseasonably cold day and, with the exception of Geoff Humpage, seemed relieved to get back into the warm after Ferris had blasted them out.
Yet, such was the strength of West Indian fast bowling in that era, Ferris did not win a single test cap. I am convinced that he would walk into their test team today.
Jon Agnew, incidentally, was playing in that game and foretold his future career by leaning back over the boundary boards at long leg and chatting with the crowd. And the Warwickshire team, with Dennis Amiss and Norman Gifford, looks like something from another age.
Second, take a look at the video above, which I am alarmed to find is almost 40 years old. John Snow and Peter Lever were both well into their thirties in 1975, but they look to be tearing in. Are Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson really faster than this?
A word of caution: some bowlers do look faster live than on television. I always think of Chris Old and Steve Watkin (who had a brief England career) in this category. So maybe it is possible to look faster on television than you really are.