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Sight Screen

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Oh geez!!!!

I don't intend this blog to become an arena for taking off on other reporters/columnists; mercifully, I am in any caseno longer either of the above, having moved to the US with a different brief.
But there are times when what is written raises eyebrows -- as with Rajan Bala's latest. I like plain speaking -- hell, it is mealy-mouthed pap I cannot stand, where columnists make diplomatic noises in public, and then over a shared beer with friends, talk out the other side of the mouth.
Plain-speaking, though, is one thing -- innuendo is quite another. As with this statement in Bala's piece:
I believe Younis Khan did not bargain for this to happen, but maybe he has to check with his own conscience and ask himself whether he became the deputy to Inzamam without having pulled strings, and at the expense of Yousuf Youhana.

Hullo, hang on a second -- the implication is that Younis got the job through skulduggery. Trouble is, there is no substantiation for the premise -- and that is where I have problems.
But more to the point, what does it have to do with the issue being discussed? Put aside the question of how he got it, Younis is, on record, the team vice-captain. In the game in question, he was the captain -- the guy who went out for the toss, and made all field decisions. It was within his right to decide the batting order, and for Afridi to flout it and on his own, ask a colleague to open in his stead, was a clear violation of due process. What does the way -- alleged way -- Younis got the job have to do with anything?
If, say, an Indian player were to flout a Ganguly order, would it be in order for the reporter to ask how, and by what means, SG has managed to hang on to the job despite a sustained poor run of form?
Worse, though, follows when Bala talks of Bajji and his misadventures with the doosra.

The third issue is Harbhajan Singh's doosra. From softpedalling it has become mollycoddling. India's top off-spinners of the past, from Ghulam Ahmed to Erapalli Prasanna and S. Venkataraghavan, would have wondered whether in their time a blatantly illegal delivery like the doosra would have been permitted. Whether the ICC or Harbhajan cares to understand, when you bowl a leg-break with an off-break action you cannot help but throw.
If Muralitharan has been doing it one has to ascribe it to the deformity in his bowling arm (the official reason anyway) but the doosra certainly has undermined the future of Saqlain Mushtaq, who at a point in his career seemed to be the equal of Prasanna in skills and ingenuity.

Jesus Christ!! Firstly, Prasanna is on record (to several people, including me, in several different conversations) as saying that the doosra, and such other innovations, are good; that like all trades, that of the off-spinner lives and dies on the basis of innovation, and that bowlers need to constantly innovate in order to stay ahead of batsmen. This, I remember Pras once telling me, was all the more necessary because the laws of cricket are heavily skewed in favor of the batsmen.
Secondly, Venkat has stood in umpteen games involving Saqlain, and has seen no problems with the doosra; neither, in fact, has any other umpire. Venkat, too, has stood in games featuring Bajji and not reported him. The problem with Bajji is merely that when he puts extra effort into that doosra, it appears to contravene existing laws -- not, as Bala suggests, with the delivery itself.
Oh, and? Take a good look, the next time Bajji bowls. There are times when he looks to hit line around off and take it through with the arm (a ball Pras excelled at, in fact); on such occasions, he bowls with the off break action.
When he bowls the doosra, though, he invariably has the ball coming out of the back of his hand -- like a genuine leg break. The deception mainly works on those batsmen who read spin off the deck, not out of the hand -- mercifully for the offie, that is 90 per cent of batsmen in international cricket today.
Oh dear... and to think this piece actually has the imprimatur of the International Herald Tribune.


  • I agree with you 100%. I think part of the problem is that with the tremendous increase in media coverage of cricket, almost anyone can today air their views and expect to get some sort of an audience.

    Pity that so-called "cricket-writers" seem to be spawning everywhere and even sadder to see that someone like Rajan Bala who is an established columnist bothers to write up such tosh!

    By Blogger Kaushik Bhattacharya, at 00:28  

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