Zaheer Khan doesn’t think Indians can bowl fast ‘naturally’:
“It’s not a natural thing,” Zaheer told Times of India. “Indian bodies are not designed to bowl fast but that said, it’s not very different from bowling outside India. Basically you have to spend a lot of time understanding yourself, your art, and then find out what works for you and what doesn’t. It also involves a lot of hard work.”
If I were charitable, I would interpret Khan as saying that fast bowling itself isn’t natural; it’s a fine art that can only be perfected through practice. Anyone who has seen a slow-mo replay of a fast bowler’s action understands the enormous strains involved. See, also, “Broken backs, fast bowlers.”
But if I were simply reading the text, I’d conclude Khan thinks there’s something wrong with the Indian gene pool. The problem with this argument is that it’s based — or related to — a post-colonial pathology: many South Asians (particularly right-wing Hindus) believe that Indian men aren’t masculine enough, and the British took advantage of their femininity.
On the other hand, there may be reasonable nature-nurture arguments to explain India’s lack of fast bowling talent. For example, experts looking at Kenyan runners — a group that routinely dominates international competitions — have argued that high elevation, a culture that relies on running and walking, and possible genetic advantages all conspired to produce lethal running machines. Is there any reason to believe Indians are susceptible to cultural/genetic factors, or maybe other incentives, that drives talent away from bowling fast? Ideas anyone?