Perhaps the most impressive aspect of how India’s pacers dominated their home season in resounding wins over South Africa and Bangladesh was that it was done without Jasprit Bumrah, India’s highest ranked Test bowler and arguably most potent weapon.
The trio of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav have already stacked up never-before-seen numbers, and the addition of Bumrah makes for a pace quartet that could potentially be an all-conditions force for the next few years.
Without comparing the four Indian pacers to past West Indies pace quartets – it’s far too early for that anyway – Phil Simmons said watching good fast bowling was exciting, no matter which team the bowlers belonged to.
“I can’t say how long ago, but when I first came here, you would have Madan Lal opening the bowling,” Simmons said at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow on Tuesday. “Now you have guys bowling at 90 miles per hour opening and your premier fast bowler (Bumrah) was injured for this Test, so you still have him to come back. It’s exciting for world cricket. Teams know now that you have to play properly on both sides – you have to have proper fast bowlers and proper spinners to beat India. Fast bowling from anybody is exciting, so it’s great to see that happen. Hopefully we can get back our battery of young fast bowlers to the level where we’re competing and giving people trouble.”
Simmons is back as the West Indies coach for a second spell, and the team will take on Afghanistan in a one-off Test starting Wednesday. While this will be a regularly scheduled Test match, Simmons was left impressed with what he had watched of India’s inaugural day-night, pink-ball Test at the Eden Gardens. He also endorsed India captain Virat Kohli‘s views on how Test matches should be marketed.
“I did watch the first day. It was exciting to see Eden Gardens full. It’s an awesome sight,” Simmons said. “I think Virat hit the nail on the head when he said we have to promote Test cricket as hard as we promote T20. Even though T20 has more money involved, we have to promote it the same way. I think if that’s done, we can see a resurgence of big crowds in Test cricket anywhere you go in the world.”
The Eden Gardens Test finished on the third day, but drew big crowds on all three days. Questions remain about the visibility of the pink ball under lights, but having never been part of a day-night Test yet, Simmons said he could only offer his opinion on how well it could be sighted once he had first-hand experience.
However, he was convinced this was the way forward for cricket. “Especially day-night Test cricket, I think that is the future,” he said.