Wednesday, December 24, 2003

For a few wickets more.. But the cost.. a few more no-balls?

Hmm.. Interesting to see how the whole Indian team mentality vis-a-vis fast bowling works. A day before a key test, this is what one leading bowler says in on of his chats with reporter that was featured on Rediff.

Sample this - Khan said his approach would be the same as at the 'Gabba -- bowl flat out against the Australians, even if he oversteps the crease a few times. "But for losing wickets on a no-ball, I don't mind [overstepping]. For me, the key has always been to hit the right length and get my rhythm going."

Is this how the team management feels? Is it not possible for a bowler to go flat out without overstepping? It looks as if Indian bowlers cannot. Time and again we have seen that from Zaheer and Co. Even slower Indian bowlers like Ganguly and Kumble (another bowler who seems to overstep regularly) don't seem to be free from this malaise.

In the last side game against Australia - A, in the first session, Ganguly seemed to be the best bowler on view. But soon after the lunch break, Ganguly in his second over, oversteped 3 times. But luckily the batsman either tapped the ball back or leaves it alone as it is wide (maybe he was too surprised, each time). But in his very next over again, Ganguly overstepped again twice and this time the analysis at the end of the over read - Nb(4), 1, Nb(4),0, 0, 0, 4, 0. The pressure that he personally had applied on the batsmen as a result of his till then relatively tight bowling (7 overs for 23 runs till that particular over) was lost.

The point I am raising is, the moment you overstep you are giving the batsmen two balls to hit when there was only one in the first place. And in this present Australian batting line up, that means at least four easy runs. And regardless of the fact that their fast scoring has proved detrimental at least on one occasion in the past, they are not going to change that aspect of their game suddenly. And every hittable ball is going to be hit and no balls are not going to be spared.

Time and again, good fast bowlers have demonstrated that it is far easier to curb the "no-ball" tendency with some extra time in the nets. If the bowler tries to bowl at full speed at the nets and simultaneously tries to make sure that he does not overstep, then there should not be any chance of him do so in a match situation. But is this happening in the Indian nets? What are Reid and Akram (who apparently made a special trip to the Indian nets at the MCG) doing about this? Reid has some responsibility to change this scenario because the Board has him on the payroll for this tour, but Akram could at least advise the Indian bowlers in this regard. Regardless of the grade of cricket, in every net session there should be someone that watches the bowler () as he bowls to see if he oversteps. I have seen this happening whenever I have played and I have had that responsibility too sometimes. But it looks as if this is not true of the Indian cricket team.

Zaheer.. Dude, no-balls are a no-no. Regardless of what everyone says about test cricket being a matter of time, with the Aussies, its a matter of runs as well. And if the match goes to the wire, as some of the test matches between the two teams, in the recent past, have gone, your no-balls might be the only runs standing between India and a victory! Pull your socks up and get us those wickets... Without the no-balls...

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