Sunday, March 20, 2011

The new age spinner

In his book Spin and Other Turns, cricket expert and historian Ramachandra Guha speaks of how BS Bedi, EAS Prasanna and BS Chandrasekhar were the holy trinity of the Indian bowling attack. Bedi and Chandrasekhar, Guha wrote, were good natured and would usually have a good rapport with the opposition. Prassana, however, had the attitude of a fast bowler and hated the batsmen and giving runs away.
The only Indian spinner I saw with the attitude of a fast bowler in the 90s was Anil Kumble. But then, Kumble was considered an inswing bowler by many of his opponents, until he reinvented his game later in his career.
England never relied on a spinner too much. Phil Tufnell was a very good bowler, but I think England gave him way too little credit and relied more on their seamers and medium pacers. They would use their part time spinners.
Warne was great because he was a genius. I, however, would argue that he didn't have the attitude of a fast bowler. He'd outwit a batsman through guile and get  his wickets. The same goes with Daniel Vettori.
The Pakistan spinners have always been a crazy lot. Abdul Qadir, Saqulain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed have been wicket taking bowlers because of their attitude. They hate the batsmen as much as Prasanna did.
Today, spinners across the world seem to be badass.
Suleiman Benn is one of many
spinners who has a fast bowler's
Sulieman Benn of West Indies, Ray Price of Zimbabwe, Shahid Afridi of Pakistan, Imran Tahir of South Africa, Graeme Swann of England and Harbhajan Singh of India have been more fast bowler-like in their attitude rather than the general assumption we've had of the spin bowler for most part of the previous decade. Now they're giving back to the batsmen; there is more sledging on part of a spinner than a fast bowler; there are more onfield arguments between batsmen and spinners, while the fast men generally bowl and go home. Sreesanth is an exception here because he'll fight with anyone.
But the good thing is that it's the return of the spinner. This World Cup has shown that. The need of a spinner in a squad is a must, as most teams have shown. They're opening with spinners and making fast bowlers first change guys. It's good to see these changes.
The funny thing is that India now insists on opening with fast bowlers when 30 years ago, we'd have Abid Ali and Eknath Solkar bowl an over each before going to the spinner.
What was mocked then is employed now. And India still wants to be different, despite knowing that it still has spinners who are waiting across the country.

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