Thursday, October 11, 2007

Five bowler format sucks

So that's why most teams play only four specialist bowlers, and get a couple of batsmen who can turn their arms over to complete the fifth bowler's quota. Australia managed to recover in the first two ODIs in spite of losing four wickets early on both occasions because they had more depth in batting. Once India lose a few early wickets, that's game, set and match. India switched back to a four-bowler format in England after going 3-1 down in the series, levelled the series, and eventually lost 4-3. They might do the switcheroo again, but it shows confusion in their approach. Tell me, why would Australia with such a formidable batting line-up, where the wicket-keeper Gilchrist gives them such depth by also being one of the world's most dangerous batsmen, choose to let Hopes and Symonds be the fifth bowler, when they have bowlers like Stuart Clarke and Shaun Tait cooling their heels? Because they've worked out one-day cricket and know it's better to have a long batting line-up than a long tail, even if that means a weaker bowling attack. How much of a difference would it make for India to leave out Zaheer Khan, who's been going at more than seven an over without many wickets to show for it? On the other hand, it might make some difference to include the stylish new batsman Rohit Sharma in his place. Of course, the rout in Vadodara was so complete that nothing might have mattered there - but at least we might have got a contest. What was also interesting to me was how everyone could've misread the pitch so much. The curator's pre-match interview, the commentators' expectations of 300-plus scores and Dhoni's broad smile on winning the toss were all belied by the swing and seam movement in the morning, coupled with the bounce Johnson could extract by digging the ball in short of a length. It wasn't extravagant batting that did India in, because all the batsmen fell to defensive shots, and I don't think India's batting is so bad, or Australia's bowling so good, that India should get bowled out for 148 on an easy track. The fact is the Vadodara pitch has always assisted pace bowlers in the morning, and that's one reason why Vadodara can boast of producing three of India's premier pace bowlers in the current circuit - Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel - even if a couple of them no longer play for Vadodara. So how come India seemed to have no clue about how the pitch would behave in Irfan Pathan's hometown?

12 comments:

Homer said...

The only player from Vadodara in the triplet you have mentioned Sumit is Irfan Pathan.

For the record, Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel started thier domestic careers playing for Mumbai. Zak still plays for Mumbai while Munaf has moved to Maharashtra.

Cheers

Sumit Chakraberty said...

come on homer, mumbai cannot claim credit for grooming zaheer khan and munaf patel into pace bowlers. i don't know if zaheer played initially in mumbai, but he certainly made his mark while playing for baroda, and that's when he got selected into the indian team. it's only last year that he shifted to the mumbai team. yes, munaf may have played for gujarat not baroda. in any case, he was also a finished article by the time he caught sachin's eye and got drafted into the mumbai side. so i think of them more as gujarat players than mumbai players, just like zaheer would not be considered an english player just because he played for worcestershire.

Homer said...

erm Sumit, that is not true.. Zaheer moved from Shrirampur to Mumbai where he caught Sudhir Naik's eye. Zaheer was in the Mumbai Ranji squad before he was released because of injuries. Thats when Baroda picked him up.

Ditto Munaf

So yeah, I think Mumbai has a legitimate claim to call these two their own.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

ok, homer. but baroda does have a pace bowling tradition, and the wicket there has contributed to it.

Soulberry said...

Sumit, this is one article that tries to analyze today's non-performance. I was all at sea about this match and couldn't figure out wher to begin.

India isn't as bad as it showed us today,,,the fellows played truant instead of slogging it out on the field.

John said...

Good one, Sumit.
I still have some difficulty with the four bowler strategy being set in stone. Aussies are able to do it because their frontline pacers are so bloody good that inevitably the fifth bowlers are not bowling under the kind of pressure under which Sachin/Saurav/Yuvraj usually are. Also, Symonds-Hodge are better one-day bowlers than the Indian trio. This is nothing new. Steve Waugh, Lehman, Beaven,
The way out is to have Sehwag in the squad. A better ODI bowler, he can be brought in whenever we're thinking in terms of four bowlers.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

soulberry, i've never believed india is bad. in terms of the talent available, i think we should at least be number two in the world. i believe the problem lies in under-utilisation of our talent, and the reasons for that are mostly to do with admin, selection, captaincy and coaching...

Stuart said...

The point about utilising the resources available in the best possible way is a good one. India has a lot of natural talent at its disposal (as does Pakistan), but marshalling it together sometimes gets caught up in politics and issues that aren't related to pure ability.

The issue of four bowlers versus five is a difficult one - in Australia we are complaining about the lack of a genuine fifth bowler, and many people feel that Hopes should be dropped for a more pure bowling option.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

john, get sachin to bowl legspin round the wicket in every match, and he'll be far more difficult to score off than symonds. the trouble is we don't use our part-timers regularly - you can't expect them to do well without regular match practice. we haven't developed a set of regular part-timers like oz, and that's just another example of our poor planning

Sumit Chakraberty said...

stuart, i think rather than replacing hopes with a fulltime bowler, ponting's missing a trick by not playing haddin in his place, and getting symonds and clarke to handle the fifth bowler's quota. with haddin in the batting lineup, i think they would've won the match in chandigarh too.

Soulberry said...

I think there is also an element of excess...some of the younger players aren't able to balance their reactions to victory and defeat, upswings and setbacks. Affects their judgement severly and with morbid results.

A cricketing career isn't a one-day match; it certainly isn't anything like a fortnight-long T20 tournament; they would do well to learn from their own seniors and the stalwarts in the various opposition they face that a complete and fulfilling career involves doing little things right repeatedly, in every situation...ennui notwithstandin. Euphoria shouldn't prejudice the present and future.

Tubbyy said...

Zaheer Khan did not begin for Mumbai, he was in the team when the 1998 tour of Australia happened, but he never got the game and then he moved to Baroda.

Baroda was what responsible for the Zaheer we know of today, not Mumbai.

John you are right. Sehwag offers more variety in the bowling attack for whatever off spinners he bowls and he is certainly better than Yuvraj Singh on the bowling terms.