Thursday, May 13, 2010

Indians and fast bowling

I'll agree that India as a team played like shit at the T20 World Cup.
Dhoni's remarks stating that the IPL parties were responsible for the poor performance will raise questions about his sincerity as a player and a captain, and the team's discipline as a whole. The media being the way it is will use this as a tool to try and finish him off, unless he proves them wrong in the next series we play
If that wasn't bad enough, Yuvraj and Nehra have been involved in an altercation at some pub in the West Indies. They will obviously deny the charges made against them.
Ridiculous, I say.
However, this piece isn't about the partying scenario and the fact that Team India lacks discipline and consistency to make winning a habit. This is a piece about India and the players' inability to play fast and short pitched bowling. And here, I'm going to do a test match analysis, because it is in that format where a bowler can take advantage of the fact that he can bowl fast and short and get away with aiming the ball at the batsman's head rather than the stumps.
For the last 50 years, the cricketing world has always criticized Indian batsmen and their inability to play fast bowling. Fred Trueman during his career best of 8/31 in his post match interview said that the Indian batsmen were scared. And yes, at that time there were. Here, you have a guy bowling at over 90 mph and your head and the only thing you think of is your life, as the concept of helmets and protective gear hadn't come out then.
But since then, things have changed.
Today, batsmen around the world, despite the protective gear available to them, suffer against genuinely quick and quality fast bowling. If I'm not convincing enough, let's look at statistics
Shoaib Akhtar, regarded as the world's fastest bowler averages 34.50 against India. He averages 24 against South Africa and 5 against New Zealand. Now it will be unfair to New Zealand because Akhtar has played only two test matches against them. But against South Africa, he has played five test matches and 10 against India.
But then, Shoaib would be considered inconsistent by cricketing pundits.
So let's take an example of Curtly Ambrose. Ambrose averages 20.99 in tests, which is a phenomenal record in itself. But he averages an unenviable 38.26 against India.
By showing these numbers, I'm not saying that Indian players are fantastic players of fast bowling. Alan Donald, in his career, averaged 17.31 against the Indians. Malcolm Marshall was consistent against all the sides he bowled against and Shane Bond has done phenomenally well against the subcontinent, except Sri Lanka.
Now, why does everyone criticize India and its inability to play quick bowling? Aakash Chopra has been tweeting about how we need to produce fast bowling wickets in India. While I don't disagree with him, Sri Lanka need to do the same thing. For the last 10 years, they have produced wickets to give Muralitharan his wickets. No offence to Murali, though. The man has taken wickets all over the world. The wickets in Pakistan are practically dead.
I think there are a couple of reasons why India is always criticized about their inability
1) India has never produced a quality fast bowler. We've had several fast medium guys. Srinath was genuinely quick towards the end of his career, but that's about it. Ishant was labelled as the next big thing, but he's been bowling like a cunt of late
2) Most Indian batsmen, who have done well against quick bowlers have been smug about it. Funnily though, four of India's greatest players against fast bowling - Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Tendulkar and Dravid have never bragged about their ability. The others, however, look so smug and arrogant that it probably pisses a bowler off. Malcolm Marshall in his autobiography stated the reasons why he disliked Dilip Vensarkar and how he would enjoy bowling fast to him because of his pissing-off attitude.
So, if Indian players need to stop getting targeted, then they need to produce good wickets in India and stop acting like a bunch of pompous idiots. While this will not happen overnight, hopefully in time things will change. Otherwise, teams the world over will try and do their best against India

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