At a time when the Indian fast bowling seems to be enjoying its golden period, the man who was rattling batsmen with his pace earlier than most others seems to be have been lost in the crowd. Varun Aaron was the original tearaway pacer in this decade of Indian cricket. Making his debut during India's 5-match home series against England, his ability to get near the 150kph mark was clearly visible.
Aaron, who suffered from injuries more often than other bowlers, remained an in-and-out member of the team. But his pace was unaffected and the threat he posed to batsmen was encapsulated in the bouncer he delivered to Stuart Broad during a Test in 2014 that caused a fracture on his face. An ordinary series in Australia later that year where most bowlers struggled didn't help him much. His last game for India in the white jersey came in 2015.
Now, in an interview to The Cricketer, the 29-year old has bared his heart and talked about his struggles with fitness and his continuing passion for bowling at high speeds. "Even though I have had eight stress fractures of my back, I still bowl at 150 kilometres per hour. I love doing it. I could never see myself doing anything else except bowling fast," he told the magazine.
Some years ago, Indian commentators used to lament the tendency of Indian bowlers to get slower as their careers progressed. But Aaron was never going to follow the pattern. Speed was necessary for him and he maintained it despite all the physical setbacks. "I think people in India now realise that Indian fast bowlers can consistently be quick and not just get bogged down by the conditions and the wickets and become a medium-pacer. We had Munaf Patel, who was really quick, but then he became a line and length bowler. There were a couple of others who started off at 145kph but then slowed down.
"Even through my physical setbacks, that was never a part of my plan. I had a back operation in 2013, when the doctors told me I'd have to cut down a bit of pace. After that, I came back and kept bowling at 150kph," Aaron asserted.
While analysing what has led to the mushrooming of genuinely quick fast bowlers in India in recent times, Aaron provided some highly valuable technical insights into the art of fast bowling and its practice in India. "As Asians, we are a lot more flexible, a lot more loose than Caucasians. They are more sturdily built. For a long time, people in India and in Asia were trying to do what worked for the English or West Indian fast bowlers or the Aussies. Now, we are realising what works for us.
"We have worked out that each individual has a programme and a way that works best for them rather than doing what the world is doing. It has made a massive difference."
While the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami are dazzling the world with their high-quality pace bowling at high speeds, the Jharkhand lad is struggling to bring himself back in the reckoning. However, if he keeps his pace up, perhaps he may get a second chance.