Melbourne: Former Australia fast bowler Rodney Hogg feels that India do not have the bowling unit to retain the cricket World Cup with Umesh Yadav being the lone bright spot in the attack.
“I am certainly not impressed with India’s fast bowling attack and I don’t think with this quality, they can retain the World Cup this time”, the 63-year-old Hogg, who bagged 123 Test wickets and 85 ODI sclaps, told PTI during an interview on Friday.
“My favourite team to win World Cup will be South Africa because they have world’s best fast bowler Dale Steyn and best batsman AB de Villiers in their side,” he added.
One of the meanest fast bowlers of early 80’s, Hogg has a typical pacer’s temperament and doesn’t beat around the bush about what he feels.
“India doesn’t have too many fast bowlers and when I mean fast, it’s got to be really quick. Raw pace, that will intimidate any batsman in world cricket. What Steyn and Mitch (Mitchell Joshnson) can do, I don’t see any Indian bowler doing. I don’t think length bowling, with that top of off-stump line will work for them,” Hogg said.
“The kind of bowlers India have, like (Mohammed) Shami and Mohit Sharma, they can be handy in New Zealand conditions which are similar to what they got in England during that Summer of 83′. They had those medium pacers for those conditions. But not on these Australian tracks. Yes, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja can be handful in select places like Sydney or Adelaide,” said Hogg, who got a 10-wicket haul against England in his very second Test match at the WACA.
The only bowler that has impressed Hogg in this Indian line-up is Umesh, who he thinks has the potential to turn into a good speedster.
“The only bowler I liked is Yadav. He has the raw pace to surprise the batsman. But someone needs to tell him that he has to first learn to be accurate. He (Yadav) should bowl fast and straight. He has those broad shoulders needed to bowl fast and he should use them to full effect,” Hogg explained.
“Once he gets that consistently going, then only he should try bowling those outswingers or inswinging yorkers.”
“And if he wants to be a swing bowler, then shun the idea of bowling fast and atleast try and be like Kapil Dev,” said the Victorian, who had toured India in 1979 under Kim Hughes’ captaincy.
Hogg also went down memory to describe the class of Indian players like Kapil and Sunil Gavaskar.
“Kapil was an outstanding swing bowler of our times. He was brilliant and the length that he used to pitch the ball consistently was always worth a mention. Among the Indian batsmen, I felt that I could never get Sunny Gavaskar out. His technique was immaculate. Vishy (Gundappa Viswanath) was a good batsman.”
“Another bloke I remember was an opener Chauhan I guess (couldn’t remember Chetan Chauhan’s first name). Chauhan had a very good defence,” Hogg fondly recollected the Indian players, with whom he was impressed with.”
Having played in the era of the great West Indian pace quartet (Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding), Dennis Lillee, Sir Richard Hadlee and Imran Khan, the fiery Australian feels that Dale Steyn is at par with the all-time best bowlers.
“Dale Steyn has a strike-rate of less than 42 balls per wicket (41.6) which is better than Marshall (46.7), Hadlee (50.8) or Lillee (52). Considering that he has got close to 400 Test wickets, he deserves to be mentioned with reverence among the greatest fast bowlers of all time,” said Hogg.
Kapil Dev, in his autobiographical book ‘By God’s Decree’ termed Hogg as the “straightest fast bowler” he had faced in his career.
Asked why he couldn’t play more than 38 Tests, Hogg is very practical.
“I am very happy with 38 Tests for Australia. Also with Dennis and Thommo (Jeff Thomson) around, they were certainly better bowlers than me. Also I didn’t have the body to continue for long because of the pace at which I used to bowl,” Hogg gave an honest reply.
So what makes you angry, Hogg the fearsome fast bowler says, “When I see those thousands of Youtube hits of Viv Richards hitting me for a six. I am a fast bowler and I have right to be angry. But seriously, Viv was an ultimate legend.”
“He had the precision of a surgeon as he decimated attacks during his time,” concluded Hogg.