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Sight Screen

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Duly noted, Irfan Pathan

S Dinakar, in the Hindu, has a take on Pathan's all-round utility, and consequently his value to the Indian lineup.
It's way, way too early to start mentioning him in the same breath as Kapil Dev -- but I must confess I'm personally glad of the innings at the VCA. In fact, glad of Pathan, period. Faisal and I had on Rediff argued Pathan's case a good year or more before he actually broke through; we felt then that he had the bowling to become an integral member of the squad.
Then there was the Pak tour of India, last year -- when his bowling seemed to fall apart. What was noticeable then, though, was his approach at the batting crease -- there was none of the awkwardness of the tailender. Take say Jason Gillespie, who has the knack of playing obdurate innings and keeping his end up. For all that, he looks the part of the tailender, standing indeterminate while the ball is in the air, then awkwardly jabbing his bat down at the last moment to keep the ball out of the stumps. You see none of that with Irfan -- the lad addresses the ball like a batsman would, with a confident move onto front foot or back; the back lift, address and follow through are all out of the batting, as opposed to tail-end, manuals.
Which is when I began arguing a case for pushing this lad to maximise his batting potential; it's good (inevitable, too, I guess) that the likes of Sachin, Rahul and Greg Chappell seem to be pushing him in that direction.
A friend, discussing the game on phone yesterday, pointed out that his promotion working was a 'fluke', that you can't expect that to happen all the time. Of course you can't -- but then, on another day, Sachin's edge when he charged Vaas would have gone to the keeper, not past him; one of Dravid's freewheeling slaps into the long off region will go to the fielder, not over his head and over the ropes...
So, sure, another day Pathan might not make runs; goes for everybody, though. The thing to focus on though is that he has the potential to play a role with the bat; hopefully, the thing tank will push him in that direction even more in course of this series.

44 Comments:

  • Prema:

    Very succinctly put. However, I feel too that he should be promoted to No. 3 only when the situation demands. The pitch was a belter, remember. I agree with your assessment of him as a batsman - he should not be called a tailender.

    By Blogger hjrsingh, at 11:56  

  • And it would be a pity if he ignores his bowling in order to improve his batting.

    By Blogger hjrsingh, at 11:57  

  • Pathan is no Kapil yet. But with proper guidence he can be better than Kapil. Kapil cannot bat for long periods but Pathan can. let us see what happens.

    Prem,

    What happened to Faisal??. Where is he now??.

    By Blogger Sridhar, at 12:01  

  • sridhar: Faisal left Indian Express and has joined TimesTV, which is I understand soon to be launched.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:03  

  • Just off topic...
    Steve Waugh description of Lara is spot on...nobody has defined Lara better..here it goes..
    "Lara is a good player against average bowling sides and a great one against formidable attacks but when harassed into a corner by his own brinksmanship or if he's targeted, he elevates himself into a genius."
    No wonder Lara has not done too well aganist India or Zimbabwe. Probably can't motivate himself enough to take on the Zaheer's and Nehra's and Prasad's of the world.
    He needs Mcgrath, Warne, Flintoff, Wasim, Waqar et all. I have a feeling that the coming WI-AUS series will be another masterpeice.

    By Blogger mau tor, at 12:13  

  • Sridhar: too too too early to anoint him as an all rounder let alone Kapil

    As dravid said he is a bowler who can bat a bit. Lets leave it at that.

    His progression should be now, utility cricketer, allrounder, Kapil.

    By Blogger Amit, at 12:18  

  • Prem, old cliche here, but I think Pathan has a genuine cricketing brain.

    In him, I think we have found our own 'freddie'. And my comparision is not about bowling or batting styles but on the above point...

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 12:19  

  • mau: Right, and Steve Waugh's descriptor is resonant with the criticism of some West Indians -- contemporaries and past greats both -- that Lara plays for himself.
    Not, perhaps, in the selfish, run-making, average-enhancing fashion that 'selfishness' is defined as, but in the sense that he plays his best when he needs to, for his own reasons.
    That said, Lara in full flight is my favorite sight in contemporary cricket -- it's like watching a guy walk the tightrope over Niagara, deliberately throwing away the balance bar after he is a quarter of the way across. Thrilling, and you are constantly waiting for triumph, or tragedy, you don't quite know which.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:21  

  • Saurabh: *L* donno about his brain, but out there, he seems to *want* to bat; for now, I'll take that.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:22  

  • Prem:
    Sure,Pathan is better than the likes of Jason G,but we must remember that Pathan is a bowler first and then a batsman.We have batsmen aplenty,who can slay any attack on their day,but quality bowlers is what we lack.Hence,one should not make 'hullabuloo' on how good a batsman Pathan can be.
    On a flat batting track,judging anyone's ability is not fair.Agreed he is a better batsman than so many tailenders,but what needs to be focussed now is Pathan's bowling more than anything else.
    Why do we lose track of our goal of gathering a balanced team.We,Indians,i believe, are a 'batsman crazy' nation.Anyone who has a good knock someday,becomes a hero.Sad,very sad.
    Lets not drift and get carried away with one good batting performance--the series isn't over yet and lets not overly praise what a batting display we've got based on one game.Mohali,is a green top...and i cant wait to watch how our Sachin's and Pathan's cope up this time.
    Peace
    Sunny

    By Blogger sunny, at 12:24  

  • Sunny: Firstly, I wasn't getting 'carried away' and hailing the next batting great. :-) And nowhere is there the implication that Pathan developing as a batsman can be at the cost of his bowling. However, from a team composition point of view, having a guy at say number 6 or 7 who can open the bowling, and then come out and assure you of 30, 40 good runs on an average is of immense benefit in terms of composition, and that is why I'd like to see IP's batting skills being developed, consciously, by the team management. Again, this is not to suggest that he be allowed to forget his bowling.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:29  

  • Gym time, guys -- see you around 3.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 12:30  

  • Prem,

    Pathan still has a lot of limitations with his technique but there were simple things about his batting that really impressed.

    Here is an example:

    19.3 Dilshan to Pathan, FOUR, shot! short ball, Pathan makes room and flays it away through covers

    19.4 Dilshan to Pathan, FOUR, four more! tossed up, this time Pathan
    hits it over the midwicket fielder.

    Actually, what this does not reveal is that (having hit a shot ball through covers), Pathan was almost ready for the second ball to be closer to his body and tossed up and had already moved that fraction earlier than normal.

    Anyway, only time will tell...

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 12:33  

  • prem did you read SMG's article on deccan herald yesterday ?

    your thoughts on it ?

    By Blogger Amit, at 12:34  

  • reminds me of the recent demise of parthiv patel. his batting got better and his keeping went.
    as someone said earlier i think his main utility to the indian side is his bowling and once he is confident and performing well in that regard he can put some effort into the batting as well. i think true allrounders are those lucky fellows to whom the art of batting and bowling come naturally and consequently dont have to spend much time perfecting each in the practise sessions. for other mere mortals success comes after sacrificing one or the other.
    we dont know what IP is capable of lets see how he develops over the next few years. i for one will be happy with him being our strike bowler who can bat a bit, anything else is a bonus.

    By Blogger inoc, at 12:35  

  • After Sachin's debut in 1989, i was looking forward to Irfan playing to India. In U-19 days, he displayed his talent in U-19 WC.
    He is for real...Indian team can look forward to for extended future.

    By Blogger Rajg, at 12:38  

  • Inoc, Parthiv patel's batting improved, but he keeping never got bad as a result of it; it was bad to begin with.

    Point is, Pathan looks like a good batsman to begin with. So no reason why he should not develop that skill further, especially if he has the backing of the Team management.

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 12:43  

  • Where is Sahir when you need him? WS 3-0!! Sahir sahib, are you back to books for your exams? ;-)

    By Blogger losing now, at 12:45  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger losing now, at 12:45  

  • Prem,

    There is a difference between pushing him up the order and converting him to an allrounder.

    Pushing him up the order is (hopefully) occassional. Making him an allrounder will create expectations about him scoring consistently.

    Even though he has shown signs of correctness in his batting and even some elegance, I don't think we should pick him for extra batting practice so that he can score 40-50 all the time.

    Let's let it be, like Rahul Dravid mentioned. It was a good idea and it ended up looking good too. Pathan has a cool mind, and if he uses his coolness in his batting even at #8, it will help the team a lot.

    Let's not get carried away with the allrounder tag.

    By Blogger RPM, at 12:46  

  • he has a long way to go - he needs to build his technique against the short ball. The Pakis and Aussies sent him some real nasty ones. I do agree, however, that he has the potential to be a genuine all rounder in a few years

    By Blogger MM, at 13:10  

  • Irfan is a slow medium pacer who can bat a bit. The guy is approaching his prime as a fast bowler in two years time and for some strange reason is loosing pace instead of gaining it.

    Batting, he is far better than an average utility player but far too short of a genuin all-rounder.

    it will be better if he improves his bowling speed, we cant afford another Madan Lal.. *L*

    By Blogger pg, at 13:12  

  • Amit:

    Thanks for referring to Gavaskar's column on Deccan Herald, the verbiage is indeed interesting..

    Prem/Guys, take a look at this column http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/oct262005/sports17463920051025.asp and see if you find some of the comments interesting indeed...

    By Blogger Multy, at 13:22  

  • PG.. I think IP bowled with a bit more pace yesterday than he has done for a while now. In Zimbabwe and SL earlier, he was in the late 120K's and very rarely touching 130K. But yesterday,he was consistently bowling in the 135K's. So looks to me like the pace and the sting is coming back. Remember him clocking 88 miles in Australia. So hopefuly with him shedding some of that bulk in his muscles etc, he will be able to re-gain his pace. Totally agree that we dont need another Madan Lal. Remember Viv Richards saying once that his run up was faster than his delivery!!!

    By Blogger Harsha, at 13:31  

  • PG.. I think IP bowled with a bit more pace yesterday than he has done for a while now. In Zimbabwe and SL earlier, he was in the late 120K's and very rarely touching 130K. But yesterday,he was consistently bowling in the 135K's. So looks to me like the pace and the sting is coming back. Remember him clocking 88 miles in Australia. So hopefuly with him shedding some of that bulk in his muscles etc, he will be able to re-gain his pace. Totally agree that we dont need another Madan Lal. Remember Viv Richards saying once that his run up was faster than his delivery!!!

    By Blogger Harsha, at 13:31  

  • Prem - One swallow doesn't make a summer. Remember Chetan Sharma and his century againt England ? That was also halied as a master stroke (after Robin Smith smacked us around) but Chetan could never be an allrounder.

    That said IKP does show some potential with the bat and needs to nurtured, who knows.

    By Blogger Oracle Guy, at 13:34  

  • Talking of Freddie, I was thinking how effective would his bowling be now that the secret of the reverse swing by English bowlers is out - cameras will be on the lookout for players popping mints into their mouths, fingers being wetted before rubbing onto the ball etc!! Who knows, the tables might be reversed and Freddie will start being compared to Pathan.

    By Blogger Gardhabh, at 13:45  

  • gardhabh - would you say there is some steel hidden in freddies bat as well?

    c'mon. I mean there is nothing illegal in what English bowlers have done. Aussies always whine when they loose and I wouldnt give much importance to this mint at all

    By Blogger J, at 13:52  

  • About concerns over Pathan's speed:
    I heard him mention that when the conditions are conducive to swing, he prefers to bowl slower ala Chaminda Vaas (around 127-129) to optimize the amount of swing he gets. However, he is fully capable of bowling quicker, which he did yesterday when there was almost no swing around (although Pathan did manage to swing one through Atapattu's gate). The dip in speed in swing-friendly conditions is very deliberate and seems to be effective. Through making mistakes, the guy is figuring out his own game. You will now also notice a distinctly different length he bowls at home versus abroad. He is no longer as willing to pitch it up on the featherbeds in India, while he pitched it right up there in Zimbabwe. Pathan's got a great cricket brain for such a young lad; hope he continues to learn.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 13:53  

  • Multy/Prem/guys,
    Do u want to read between these lines of Sunny " May be he(Venugopala Rao)was kept behind so that if he failed then it would make it easier for Ganguly to come back in the side." Sunny going Ravi's way?

    By Blogger Krish, at 13:54  

  • krish,
    If Ravi is going JD's way, then yeah Sunny is going Ravi's way

    By Blogger Poondu, at 13:59  

  • I think the key is to have a flexible middle-order. Pathan should generally bat at #7 but if the need demands we can promote him up the order. Dravid can be flexible at 3,4,5 depending on the situation. For example, if bowling is good and we lose early wickets...he can come in at 3 due to his technical superiority. Kaif should play the role of anchor...plugging ones & twos with few hits at the boundary. Yuvraj & Dhoni at 5 and 6 can give impetus to the scoring rate in the later overs which we so often lack even after getting a good start. The important thing is to be flexible with different positions and keep the opposition guessing.

    By Blogger ClannZĂș, at 14:10  

  • Much as I admire Gavaskar the player, I can't believe he is this biased in favour of Ganguly as to suggest deliberate ploys to keep Ganguly out! Hopefully Dravid and Chappell have better things on their mind. Based on current abilities, I would hate to see either Ganguly or Agarkar in the side.

    By Blogger Ashvin Iyengar, at 14:13  

  • Gavaskar is the man behind all the blunders happening in the cricket world.
    - Enforcing new ODI rules without even trying them in first class cricket.
    - Selection of World XI and in charge of organising a total mis-match event.
    - Part of the so-called "committee" that did absolutey nothing about the Ganguly-Chappell fiasco.
    - What about all that money that was found in his locker ?
    - Embarassing all Indians every time he picks up a microphone or pen.

    By Blogger ClannZĂș, at 14:25  

  • Sahir - 1. What is the quickest Pathan can bowl consistenely in a spell. Its not that the odd one hovers around the 140 mark and the average in the late 120's. I am still not buying Sahir's theory that the slowness is at the added advantage of extra swing.

    2. Pathan as a batsman does show promise. This has nothing to do with the 80 odd he got in the ODI. If you remeber even Agarkar has got a 95 coming in at number 3 in an ODI. To me, Agarkar never looked like a batsman. Lets keep our fingers crossed on Pathan the allrounder .... I have a feeling though he will end up as a batsman who can bowl a bit .... A la -- Ravi Shastri

    By Blogger indCric, at 14:35  

  • >>>Gavaskar is the man behind all the blunders happening in the cricket world.<<<

    Wow !! What an objective assessment. Now I have heard it all.

    >>>- Enforcing new ODI rules without even trying them in first class cricket. <<<

    WTF ???

    >>>- Selection of World XI and in charge of organising a total mis-match event. <<<

    WTF 2 ???


    >>>- Part of the so-called "committee" that did absolutey nothing about the Ganguly-Chappell fiasco.<<<

    WTF 3 ??? Please tell me what else you wanted them to do ? So Far India has a new captain, Ganguly is out of the team, playing Domestic Cricket. Is that called 'Absolutely Nothing' ?

    >>>- What about all that money that was found in his locker ? <<<

    WTF 4 ??

    >>>- Embarassing all Indians every time he picks up a microphone or pen. <<<

    WTF 5 ??? Speak for yourself.

    By Blogger Oracle Guy, at 14:48  

  • >>>Ashvin Said :- Based on current abilities, I would hate to see either Ganguly or Agarkar in the side.<<<

    Obviously, there is no word for VS.
    So much for being fair. ;)

    And now that AA is not performing but already there in the team, can I ask the excuse this time ? When he was there, PP told us that it was because of SG and him(AA) dating sisters Nagma & Jyotika. Why is he selected now ? I hope people dont accuse RD of having an affair with Agararkar's Saali.

    Or may be it is SRT who is the force behind having the Bombayduck in the team and his numerous comebacks. ;)

    By Blogger Oracle Guy, at 14:53  

  • WTF ???

    By Blogger ClannZĂș, at 14:55  

  • Comparing Pathan with tailenders is an insult. I wouldnt go as far as someone did yesterday here and say that his defenses are better than Yuvi and strokes better than Kaif But i also wouldnt argue with that. He is a good batsman and his attitude is excellent when he bats. And this is not first time when he has played well. I think his 49-50 runs against Pakistan in Pakistan were more valuable. I am pretty sure he will end his career with better batting avg than Kapil. But he should concentrate more on his bowling which is more important for India. He should always think that its his bowling which is his bread and butter.

    By Blogger Vick, at 14:55  

  • Prem, Guys, Pathan has been the best kep secret within the team. I suspect, everybody WITHIN the team thinks of IP as an allrounder. But none in the team advertise him as that in order to not to put pressure on him and raise the media's expectations ( a la Agarkar-yeah the same guy who has a century at Lord's) that aloud. I remember, SG being asked last year about Pathan's batting and the potential makings of an allrounder... he quickly mumbled something like in his mind he already thinks of IP as an allrounder.

    By Blogger Prasad, at 15:15  

  • Picking up on INDCRIC's comment.. I think the team is most concerned that IP does NOT go the Shastri or the Agarkar way. Agarkar started thinking he could bat and forgot to bowl. Shahstri probably never really knew how to bowl at the international level so made with his obdurate batting, did well for himself and hung on in the team. Srinath is a major proponent of bowlers becoming complete bowlers before getting carried away with their batting and not focusing on the main reason they are picked -which is to take wickets !

    By Blogger Prasad, at 15:21  

  • indcric,
    "What is the quickest Pathan can bowl consisten[t]ly in a spell. Its not that the odd one hovers around the 140 mark and the average in the late 120's. I am still not buying Sahir's theory that the slowness is at the added advantage of extra swing."

    He is capable of consistently bowling in the upper 130s. His coach at Middlesex stated in an interview that he was surprised by how quick Pathan could bowl. I personally saw Pathan bowl consistently around 138 in a 20/20 match against Surrey at the Oval this summer when I went vacationing in London. I feel when we see Pathan bowl on a hard surface, without much swing available, say in Australia or South Africa, you will see Pathan crank it up above 140. But, he feels when he bowls at that pace, his deliveries do not swing. This may be partially due to his wrist position going awry when he strives for that extra yard. Conventional swing has long favored medium-pacers. The quicker the bowler is, the less time the ball has through the air to swing. However, for some mystifying reason the exact opposite is true with reverse swing. I suppose that's an additional reason it can be called reverse swing, along with it swinging opposite to the conventional manner.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 16:18  

  • Unfortunately Agarkar is being given one more chance, fortunately this WILL be his last chance. The Dravid-Chappell duo will not dish our favors - perform or sit on the couch and watch the matches on TV.

    Dravid used ot speak highly to Agarkar. In fact 3-4 years ago I remember both him and Ganguly saying that Agarkar was the next big thing in Indian cricket, the player of the future. Chappell too is thinking about Agarkar swing bowling that won us the Adelaide test match and wants him to reproduce that magic.

    Whatever said, this is indeed Agarkar's last chance. Even Tendulkar cannot save him now if he does not deliver the goods.

    By Blogger MM, at 18:00  

  • Prem, very interesting observation on Lara's 'selfish' streak. Very few people condemn this sort of selfishness as opposed to the more obvious ravi shastri kind of selfishness. I think it is this kind of thinking that sets you aside as a cricket journalist.

    By Blogger raj, at 05:03  

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