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Sight Screen

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Go, Irfan

Good to see Irfan Pathan putting his leisure to some good use -- his debut outing appears to be going well, with a useful 41 off 68 balls that added heft to the Middlesex lower half; and then two quick strikes when Sussex batted (Scoreboard).
His bowling was way off during the Indo-Pak series -- and IMHO, much of it has to do with the lad's gym regimen. Compare the photographs of Pathan in Pakistan, and Pathan six months later -- the guy's bulked up so much, so fast, you almost think steroids (no, not suggesting he is on that stuff).
Not that bulking up is per se bad; the catch though is that -- judging by the way he bowled -- his emphasis on building muscle has impacted noticeably on his flexibility. His best ball to my mind is the one that slants across the right hander, lands around off, and then either straightens or comes in marginally.
Since the left-arm seamers stock ball is the one that slants across, hits, and either goes through on the angle or seams away, Pathan's ability to bring one back from that identical slot was the main reason for his success -- batsmen were constantly tentative, unable to pick the one going through, the one straightening, or the one coming back in.
It is this ball he lost, almost entirely, during the home series against Pak -- and after watching him bowl through the Tests, my best guess is, his new-found muscles are still so stiff, he hasn't been able to bring his arm as close to his ear, at delivery, as he needs to for that particular ball -- in other words, he's been tending to bowl a touch round-arm.
Constant cricket in the county circuit is the best cure, really; he'll develop the flexibility he lost, and hopefully should come back to his best.

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