Proteas in a fix
Bobby Simpson's latest column looks at the current state of South African cricket -- not quite on-topic, on-message for a blog that looks primarily at Indian cricket, but the column is worth your while because the insights into strategy offered by Simpson are as relevant for the national team as they are for the Proteas. A sampler:
I have always claimed that there is only one hard part in batting and that is judging the length of the ball. If you get it right you play correctly forward when the ball is up and back when it is pitched short. In theory, a fairly simple thing to expect your batsmen to do. Unfortunately, in world cricket it is becoming an epidemic as batsmen are caught straddling the crease and are easy victims for the bowlers.
South Africa right now are probably heading the world in this department. In the second innings in Melbourne, by my calculation, at least six of the batsmen were out when they miscalculated the length of the ball and were left in a no man's land to counter the delivery that dismissed them. It is impossible to judge every delivery right, but it is vital to get as many correct as you possibly can.
I would like to wager a small amount on the fact that most of the South African batsmen don't watch the ball right out of the bowler's hand, but watch an area somewhere around the hand.
Tests have shown that batsmen who watch the ball right out of the fingers of the bowler, pick it up at least a metre sooner than those who don't. This is obviously a huge advantage as it allows batsmen the extra time to assess where the ball will pitch and thus get into the right position to play it.