Dennis Lillee: You Are Born to Be A Fast Bowler

Aussie bowling legend Dennis Lillee, whose tenure as the director of the MRF Pace Foundation ends, tells Forbes India that hard work helps you get to the highest level in cricket and harder work ensures your stay there

By Abhishek Raghunath
Published: Sep 29, 2012
Image: Getty Images

Dennis Lillee
63 years
Education: Belmont High School, Perth, Western Australia
Experience: Outgoing Director, MRF Pace Foundation (1987-2012); pace spearhead, Australia (1971-84)

Q. How important is mental toughness to succeed at the highest level in cricket?
You wouldn’t be able to do all your other work at the maximum if you didn’t have the mental toughness. Really, you need that because you are going to bowl a lot of overs in the sapping heat. Your wings will ache, your feet will ache, you will be stiff and sore and then you have to front up again the very next day if you are playing a Test match. Then there’s the travel, playing all your T20 tournaments and the need to front up for them. All of that comes from mental application. The only way you can get that is to have a very strong heart, I think.

Q. Like Matthew Hoggard and Peter Siddle…
They are great examples of people who don’t give in. That’s what mental application is. You just don’t give in, no matter what the condition or the situation of the match is. They are running in, charging in and giving a 110 percent.

Q. How did you manage to stay on top of your game for so long?
Bloody hard work! I am a very competitive person. I couldn’t stand losing even a game of Monopoly. You got to have it in you. You have to train super hard.

Q. Why does India produce so few fast bowlers?
You are not created or produced as a fast bowler. You are actually born to be a fast bowler. That skill is then honed and training methods are applied. It’s not something where you wave a wand. But the next group that’s coming up has been trained younger by me and they have very good talent. Rituraj Singh and Varun Aaron have been good finds. Both are very good bowlers.

Q. But Indian bowlers are not consistently fast like Brett Lee or Peter Siddle…
Brett Lee and Peter Siddle bowl at a certain pace throughout; these guys train incredibly hard aerobically. I can’t tell how hard the Indian bowlers train. There are many more components to bowling fast than just having an action. Some people sometimes lose the fact that what gets them there is hard work and what keeps them there is harder work.

Q. Is IPL good for cricket?

I like the T20 game. To answer if having all that much cricket is good to the game or not, is not up to me. It’s up to the players and administrators.

Q. What after the MRF Pace Foundation?
I plan to do some coaching online with a panel of coaches that I’ve trained and respect. We’ll train schools and cricket associations right up to the first class level and Tests if they want to participate.


(This article is excerpted from the latest Forbes India 12 October, 2012 issue which is now available at news stands and book stores. You can buy our tablet version from

  • Sudeep Majumder

    How much Foreign coaches India bring ,it is total futile & money drain.First & foremost young well built kids having good IQ & aerobics lover from Northern India & few from other states should be chosen & given ground level training in all respected fields & also diet charts to pass the final test for fast bowling programmes.This young well built determined kids then should be trained hard to bowl fast with good bowling actions.The art of fast bowling should then be focussed in foreign soils with the guidance from experts.When the kids reach to super level & passed all the test focus on first class matches in subcontinent & forein soil should be stressed on & panel of neutral judges should given responsibilities on selection.This process may take 10yrs time & Crores of Rupess spent but outcome of fast bowlers would crop up.India then find fast bowlers of International level & would then be able to force win in foreign soils

    on Jan 10, 2015
  • Raman

    I believe, at one point in time in India, at-least 70% kids want to be a cricketer, most a batsman. but people like Sir Lille.have encouraged some to be a fast bowler and discouraged right people to be one (read Sachin, who wanted to become a fast bowler) Raman bpo jobs in delhi

    on Jun 18, 2013
  • Surya Prakash Singh

    sir i want to join pace academy plz suggest me how to join my age is 20 yr i am laft arm bowler sir i want to bowl like you plz suggest me how can i join your acadmy im from ambala haryana in india

    on Jan 5, 2013
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