Speed thrills for Meaker
Stuart Meaker is already the fastest English bowler on record – but he believes he can get even quicker.
The 22-year-old Surrey paceman arrived in India today for England's limited-overs tour, their only assignment this side of Christmas.
“When I was 18 the ECB clocked me at 92.7mph,” he told ecb.co.uk, referring to tests which have involved all England bowlers in recent years, including Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff.
“I got slightly quicker on TV one year at 93mph, and I’ve maintained that pace. It’s not touching 100mph yet, but perhaps there’s a little bit more in there.
“I feel that when I’m at my best and conditions are right, I can tear in and get it down there a few yards quicker.”
Meaker, who speaks with a calmness that belies a fierce competitive streak with the ball, knows he is unlikely to encounter such conditions in India, traditionally the playground of spinners.
And besides, while speed may thrill, Meaker is the first to admit it is only when married with control that it becomes a potent weapon.
“I’d say my pace is my main asset,” he revealed. “I’ve been blessed with a naturally athletic body and it has just allowed me to run in, tear in and bowl fast.
“I used to do a lot of athletics when I was young and I played rugby as well, so that helped. I chose cricket because I absolutely love the sport.
“I might have that pace, but it’s useless without having the skills behind it, and bowling 90mph isn’t as lethal as it would have been a while ago.
“Batsmen play against it with ease now and they can bash you out of the park as much as anyone, so you’ve got to have the skill.
“Since last year I’ve tried to hone my skills in one-day cricket a lot more. I’ve got a decent slower ball, I can bowl my cutters when I need to, and in the Twenty20s for Surrey this season I did alright with my yorkers. I’m hoping it’s all coming together.”
Expanding his bowling armoury has been central to Meaker’s development in recent years. He progressed through the youth ranks at Surrey – the club he joined as a 12-year-old after emigrating from South Africa – represented England Under-19s and, this summer, England Lions.
Although he remains a work in progress – Meaker averages 37.89 with the ball in 21 one-day matches – he believes he has sufficient weapons to threaten an India side that, despite their much-publicised failure to win a competitive match on their recent tour of England, remain world champions.
He said: “Pitches are a bit flatter and slower out there, but with them being a little bit more abrasive than some of the pitches here, reverse-swing will come into play.
“Everyone knows that if you can reverse the ball at 90mph it’s a handful. If I can be nailing my 90mph reverse-swinging yorkers I think I could go okay.”