Fast bowling is an expression of raw power. Proper fast bowlers are forces of nature. They always command attention. They are more animal excitement than grace or splendor. They are men of fear and of fantasy.
Cricket during the 70s and 80s had a manly charm to it. There were ferocious and mercurial competitors in cricket who graced this glorious game with the flair of Mohammad Ali and Mike Tyson. They scripted some dramatic battles and rivalries which earned their place in cricket's pantheon. Lillee and Thomson v Viv Richards, Holding v Boycott and Imran v Gavaskar. That era had a rush. That era had a spine. That era had battles between bat and ball. That era had sex appeal.
At present, it's more about Amla v Clarke or Pietersen v Sangakkara. We only witness the artistry of the willow artists, the dominance of the bat. In the course of time the rules have turned bias towards batsmen to the extent that there is a shortage of genuine fast bowlers and for which we don't witness the raw power on the cricket field more often.
But from February 1 there is going to be a welcome change. South Africa and Pakistan are all set to dish out the battle of pace which has become a rarity in modern day cricket. Both teams are blessed with some exciting speed merchants. South Africa will unleash virility and violence through Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander while Pakistan will trigger a mercurial intoxication through Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan and Umar Gul.
Steyn running in full throttle, fire in his eyes and releasing a cricket ball with thunder; the steep bounce achieved by Morkel; the nagging incisiveness of Philander. Just hold your breath after they finish their wild exhibition. From the other side, a left-handed swinging sultan whose crafty bowling at pace will be an element of danger; a two-meter feet quick looking to evoke the spirit of Garner and Holding; and of course the crafty Gul who by no means will give away an inch to keep this exciting show going at a thrilling pace.
It's a guarantee that we will be gratified to watch an ideal but testing battle between bat and ball. It's a guarantee that Test cricket will not be dull. Junaid v Smith, Irfan v Amla and Kallis, Steyn v Hafeez. Maybe the thrill of the 70s and 80s will return.