Former Pakistan fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz says Irfan Pathan and S Sreesanth are finished as world class bowlers and blames a combination of modern coaching methods and muddled thinking by the Indian team management for that.
Sarfraz, in New Delhi on a short coaching assignment on the invitation of Delhi and District Cricket Association, surprised one and all with his forthright comments on problems faced by India with regard to fast bowling and his knowledge on the subject.
The 57-year-old said India coach Greg Chappell had invited him to give tips to the Indian pacers when they visited Pakistan earlier this year, and although he exactly pointed out the wrongs in their techniques and told them how they could rectified, he did not see any improvement in their bowling thereafter.
"In the case of Sreesanth, when I saw him in Pakistan he was a match-winning bowler. But from what I saw him in the last match in the Champions Trophy, he is finished," Sarfraz, who played in 55 Tests and took 177 wickets, said at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday.
"His line and length are gone. Whatever the minute things I told them [in Pakistan], I saw no big difference when I saw them again."
In the case of Pathan, Sarfraz said Chappell and captain Rahul Dravid should be more prudent in entrusting responsibilities on the youngster.
"I told Chappell and Dravid, 'look, you must give him the sole responsibility of getting a side out and win a match for you'," said the Lahore-born bowler, considered as one of the exponents of reverse swing.
"When you divert his attention by asking him to score runs and also take wickets, his mentality becomes that 'if I score runs, it is OK even if I don't take wickets'."
On technicalities, Sarfraz said, "Pathan has slowed up at his finish [in the run up]. He is also releasing the ball early.
"When you release the ball a little late, it means you are delivering with the arm at a less height. That way you hit the deck a bit more hard and would also be able get that extra bit of swing.
"And when you release the ball from a height, it also means you are one foot away from the batsman, so you lose that extra yard of pace."
Asked about the drop in pace in Munaf Patel's bowling, Sarfraz said it probably has to do with the bowler's fitness.
"In the beginning he was sharp, but in the last match he did not have any speed," the legend said.
Asked if the Indian bowlers are suffering from over-coaching and whether having a specialised fast bowling coach would help them, Sarfraz said it depends on who they are taking help from.
"Today, you become a coach if you pass an exam. To me, a coach has to work like a doctor diagnoses his patient because technique is not something that anybody can come and teach."
Unlike Pakistan, India has traditionally struggled to produce world class fast bowlers.
Many former players, from either side of the border, have given their views on the subject but Sarfraz threw some fresh light on it.
"Look, even in Pakistan, fast bowlers have come from Punjab and our best batsmen have come from Karachi. Your Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar come from the same region," he said.
"In Punjab because of the cooler climate, the pitches are green and a fast bowler can exert himself. Obviously, you won't find these two things in the cities.
"Also, depending on the weather, food habits vary. In hot conditions, you would drink more lassi. Such type of food doesn't help the physical development which is important for a fast bowler."