Building the perfect fast bowler

 

If I could build the perfect fast bowler…

First things first, you've got to start with the run-up. This is where it all begins. Every fast bowler does it a bit differently; some sprint in at a rate of knots, some slowly build into it, others lope in smoothly, almost casually. For my perfect paceman, I'm going to take Dale Steyn's run-up. Dale is one of those quicks who charges in, full pelt. But his speed to the crease is only one part of what makes his build-up so good. Watch his face when he's on the way into bowl – that's a look of pure determination. And it's bloody scary! The intimidation factor kicks in before he's even let go of the ball.

Dale Steyn during the South African national cricket team training session at PPC Newlands

Dale Steyn during the South African national cricket team training session at PPC Newlands

Next up for my fantasy quick, I want the height, accuracy AND bounce of Glenn McGrath. 'Pidgeon' was someone I loved watching when I was growing up and he's still the model many bowlers aspire to. Hearing from batsmen who faced him, they speak about how hard he was to get on top of despite not possessing out-and-out pace. They'd think a delivery would be full enough to drive before the ball kicked up and smashed into the stickers high on their bat. His towering height is what unlocked that rare trait. When you combine that with an unrelenting ability to hit a 20-cent piece ball after ball and over after over, it's easy to see why he was so good.

Australian paceman Glenn McGrath holds the ball aloft after snaring a five wicket haul against England on the first day of the third Test Match at Trent Bridge in Nottingham 02 August 2001

Australian paceman Glenn McGrath holds the ball aloft after snaring a five wicket haul against England on the first day of the third Test Match at Trent Bridge in Nottingham 02 August 2001

I'm going to add another piece to this frightening fast bowler by taking the wrist of Jimmy Anderson. Another world class quick who doesn't rely on raw speed, Anderson's knack of being able to swing a ball around corners is unrivalled. I don't know quite know how he does it, but the way he positions and controls his wrist to deliver a bending out-swinger is pure perfection. And unlike many top bowlers who can shape the ball away, Anderson can also swing it back in towards the right-hander's stumps without changing his action at all.

James Anderson delivers a ball during day four of the second Test cricket match between the West Indies and England

James Anderson delivers a ball during day four of the second Test cricket match between the West Indies and England

While Anderson is the modern-day king of conventional swing, Wasim Akram was perhaps the game's best exponent of reverse swing, a key part of a fast bowler's armoury. My pace ace is going to need to be effective when the shine comes off the ball, so I'm going to give him the Pakistan great's mastery of the old rock. While I'm picturing my perfect quick as a right-armer, a few big Wasim-esque banana benders sliding in late, dropping, and smashing the batter on the toes will be handy no matter what hand you bowl with!

Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram winds up in a test match against Sri Lanka

Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram winds up in a test match against Sri Lanka

This next bowler comes from left field as he's not actually a fast bowler. But I'm sure Shane Warne won't mind me taking a small, but notable, aspect of his game: his presence. Who could forget the way he stood at the top of his mark, moving fielders an inch to the right or left to try to get inside a batsman's head? His wicket celebrations were pretty cool as well (more on that below), so I'm going to pinch a few of those for my speed demon from hell.

Shane Warne celebrates a hat-trick against England

Shane Warne celebrates a hat-trick against England

If my fantasy bowler wasn't scary enough, I'm going to add just a sprinkle of Mitchell Johnson into the mix. Specifically; I want his bouncer. At his peak, Johnson absolute terrorised batters with his short ball from that slingshot action. With a surprise bumper like MJ's, my perfect fast bowler's full deliveries will become even more dangerous.

Mitchell Johnson celebrates after bowling Denesh Ramdin of West Indies

Mitchell Johnson celebrates after bowling Denesh Ramdin of West Indies

Finally, I'm going to round off my dream speedster with the durability of Brett Lee. Not only could he keep his express pace up around the 150 kph mark all day long, he also managed to do it over a two-decade long career. That kind of stamina is very hard to come by, as I’ve come to understand far too well over the years. Now I think of it, maybe I'll take Brett’s wicket celebrations too for my flawless fast bowler. What better way to cap off a wicket from the Superman of quicks with a trademark 'Binga' chainsaw salute?

Brett Lee celebrates taking Australia's first wicket during the First Twenty20 International Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on January 12, 2011

Brett Lee celebrates taking Australia's first wicket during the First Twenty20 International Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on January 12, 2011