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BCCI's Fast Bowling Contract carves path for a thriving Pace Bowling Future

BCCI selection committee headed by Ajit Agarkar has recommended fast-bowling contracts to five players. BCCI is working out financial incentives for these players.


BCCI introduce fast bowling contracts to encourage fast bowlers | (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
BCCI introduce fast bowling contracts (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

The recent release of the BCCI's contract list for the year 2023-24 has generated considerable interest, particularly with the inclusion of a new category: the "Fast Bowlers Contract." This addition has captured the attention of many, sparking curiosity about its significance and the strategic thinking behind BCCI's decision to introduce such a category.


As cricket enthusiasts eagerly delve into the details, the emergence of this specialized contract has become a focal point of discussion in the country.


What is this contract?

To bolster India's fast-bowling capabilities, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has launched this innovative fast-bowling contract program. This groundbreaking initiative aims to offer selected players specialized training and access to cutting-edge rehabilitation facilities at the prestigious National Cricket Academy (NCA). Furthermore, the board is providing comprehensive insurance coverage, ensuring thorough support for athletes who will be part of this venture.

 

This strategic step reflects the BCCI's steadfast dedication to fostering and empowering India's fast-bowling talent, thereby enhancing the country's standing in the global cricketing arena.


Facilities NCA is likely to provide through this contract

Within this comprehensive fast bowling program, players will benefit from tailored training sessions, specialized rehabilitation programs, and an array of amenities meticulously crafted to elevate their skills and enhance overall fitness levels. 


In addition to the invaluable training opportunities, players enlisted in the fast-bowling contract program receive financial recognition in the form of a retainer fee. This retainer fee aligns with the compensation structure designated for C-grade players in the central contract system. It will serve both as a recognition of their commitment to fast bowling excellence and a means to support their dedication to the sport. 


By aligning the compensation with the central contract system, BCCI emphasizes the significance of fast bowlers within the broader framework of Indian cricket, acknowledging their vital role in the team's success and reinforcing the program's prestige.


West Indies tour of India 2022_ Umran Malik was dropped from T20I series against West Indies _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©X/Twitter)
Umran Malik one of the fast bowling expects of India (Source: ©X/Twitter)
Why do fast bowlers need proper care?

Fast bowling's explosive movements exert immense force on a player's body, leading to potential muscle strains and joint stress. To ensure career longevity, fast bowlers must prioritize injury prevention. The repetitive nature of fast bowling stresses specific muscle groups, necessitating proper care. Optimal fitness levels through strength training, flexibility exercises, and cardiovascular conditioning are crucial for them. 


Adequate recovery after intense spells, including rest, hydration, and nutrition, is vital to prevent fatigue and reduce injury susceptibility. Monitoring workload, and balancing match appearances, practice, and recovery, is essential. Individualized care plans, accounting for factors like age, injury history, and playing conditions, are also needed for sustained performance and to guard against burnout.


Impact of a fast bowler in a cricketing game

Pacers play a pivotal role in cricket, particularly in the opening overs, aiming to disrupt the opposition by taking early wickets. Their sheer pace creates pressure, fostering an intimidating atmosphere that affects the batter's confidence. Skilled fast bowlers utilize swing and seam movements, confounding batters thus making them invaluable assets.

 

They contribute to changing the momentum of a game with breakthroughs, especially in the death overs. The ability to extract reverse swing adds a lethal dimension.

 

All in all, they excel in fielding positions, complement spinners, adapt to conditions, and entertain fans with thrilling deliveries.



Who all are present in this contract?

The BCCI has extended this contract to five promising fast bowlers. Umran Malik, despite a one-year absence from the Indian team, caught the committee's attention with his exceptional pace, hitting 150 kmph during IPL-2022, indicating his continued relevance to the national squad.


Next on the list is Yash Dayal, an impressive left-arm seamer, who overcame a challenging moment in the IPL when he was hit for five consecutive sixes. However, his potential was duly acknowledged, earning him a significant Rs 5 crore contract with RCB at the last year's auction.


Akash Deep's Test debut showcased his prowess, particularly when he took three wickets for 83 against England on Day One in the fourth Test in Ranchi. This impressive performance rightfully secured him a spot in the list of contracted fast bowlers.


Vidwat Kawarappa's rise to the spotlight can be attributed to his exceptional performance in the Ranji quarterfinals, where he took 10 wickets (4/99 & 6/61) for Karnataka against Vidarbha at Nagpur. This outstanding display earned him the coveted contract, reflecting his potential to make significant contributions.


Vijaykumar Vyshak, who stood out for Karnataka by taking 39 wickets in eight matches at an average of 23.61, further solidified his position by securing a place in the RCB squad for the upcoming IPL. 



India vs England, 4th Test, Day 1_ Akash Deep took three wickets on Day 1 of Ranchi Test _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Akash Deep is part of the contracted fast bowlers by BCCI (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Can BCCI look to partner again with MRF Pace Academy or is this contract a stepping stone for National Pacers Academy in India?

The BCCI's strategic collaboration with the MRF Pace Foundation, spanning a five-year agreement in the past, marked a pivotal initiative in nurturing the skills of contracted pacers. This partnership provided bowlers with a unique opportunity to undergo training under the guidance of legends like Glenn McGrath at the renowned MRF Academy. 


The specialized coaching and exposure to world-class facilities allowed the fast bowlers to refine their techniques and gain valuable insights from one of the greatest pacers in cricket history. So, making a collaboration with them once again should be fruitful.


Looking ahead, while the BCCI has not officially announced the establishment of a National Pacers Academy, the idea holds considerable promise. Envisaged as a centralized hub, such an academy could serve as a focal point for cultivating fast bowling talent across India.

 

It would offer specialized coaching programs, exposure to varied playing conditions, and a structured development pathway for emerging pacers. This initiative can significantly boost India's bowling resources, ensuring a sustained pipeline of skilled bowlers for the future.


What do some of the experts of the game have to say about this contract?

In response to the BCCI's visionary move, former India bowling coach Bharat Arun expressed enthusiastic approval, hailing it as a "fabulous move." He emphasized the creation of a dedicated pool of fast bowlers, poised to benefit from the invaluable expertise offered at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). 


Arun highlighted the significance of access to top-tier physiotherapy and strength and conditioning resources, highlighting the potential advantages over their respective states. Commending the decision as "excellent and much-needed," Arun's endorsement reflects the positive impact this initiative is expected to have on the development and nurturing of India's fast-bowling talent.


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