‘I'm a big fan of Andy Roberts'


“I just try and perform wherever I get a chance and whenever they have to pick me, they'll pick me. It's not in my control after all,” says Varun Aaron. The 21-year-old pace bowler touched 153 kph in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final.

As India cries out for a pace bowler to add some much-needed bite to its depleted attack, one man in the frame to become a future new ball spearhead believes speed alone cannot guarantee success.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni may be Jharkhand's most notable contribution to Indian cricket but Varun Aaron was able to share some of the skipper's limelight earlier this year when he bowled what many believe to be the fastest delivery by an Indian.

The 21-year-old sent down a 153 kph delivery in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final and can consistently bowl at speeds rarely seen in a land starved of genuine pacemen, but Varun believes he has a lot more to his repertoire than just raw pace.

“Speed... okay, you got to bowl quick but it troubles international batsmen only to a certain extent. After that, they adjust pretty easily,” Varun told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“You got to have a few tricks up your sleeve and you got to bowl at a good line and length consistently to get wickets.”

The youngster's emergence comes at a time when England has not only stripped India of its Test number one status but laid bare the frailties of the tourists' pace attack in the four-Test series.

Varun would have plenty to admire from the home side's formidable attack and had India not been robbed of lead paceman Zaheer Khan though injury, the battle might have been a more even one.

“Fast bowling is something people pay to watch,” he added.

“When a quick bowler is in good rhythm and is giving the batsman a torrid time, it's fun to watch. At the end of the day, it's what people want to watch.

“But even genuine fast bowlers have to have the right line and length. Everybody assumes that if somebody is quick, he has got to bowl here and there."

Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram is so convinced of Varun's ability that he wants Indian selectors to fast-track his path to the senior side. “If India think he should play domestic cricket for two more seasons before being picked, they are wrong,” Akram wrote in a recent newspaper column, speaking from first-hand experience of working with Varun as his bowling coach at Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.

Further evidence of Varun's maturity is revealed when he talks of aggression.

“I'm a big fan of the great West Indian bowler Andy Roberts because he was an intimidating bowler. A fast bowler has to be aggressive, no doubt about that,” he said. “You should have the adrenalin going on and off but if you are aggressive all the time, I don't think that helps. You often stray from your plan.

“At times I do get aggressive, it all depends on the conditions. If a batsman hits you, you are angry and you try to bounce him out. But if the pitch is flat and slow, it would not work and he would slap you for another four.”

For someone tutored by two of the best possible bowling gurus, Varun's measured approach is hardly surprising .

“I have been a trainee and now an employee at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai and learnt a lot from (Australian bowling great) Dennis (Lillee) and (former Indian pacer) T. A. Sekar about my bowling action.

“They taught me how important my bowling action is to my bowling well and bowling quick without getting injured.

“If I'm having an ache or a pain now, I can immediately see my action and find for myself if I'm going wrong anywhere. It's much easier now.

“At Kolkata Knight Riders, Wasim Akram shared a lot of experience and how important it was not only to train (in the gym) but also to keep bowling. And of course he taught me a thing or two about reverse swing."

Varun appears to be taking the sudden attention he has generated in his stride but is ready to wait for his dream of winning a Test cap to realise. “I follow the same routine,” he added. “I just try and perform wherever I get a chance and whenever they have to pick me, they'll pick me. It's not in my control after all.”

Varun has been picked as a replacement for Ishant Sharma for the forthcoming ODI series against England.