Bowlers dying at the death
By Sandip G | ENS | Published: 29th October 2013 06:15 PM |
Far from his teammates, Ishant Sharma was involved in an extended chat with bowling coach Joe Dawes, himself under a fair bit of scrutiny for the bleeding obvious. The gruff glare of Dawes and Ishant’s urgency suggested they were working on something as specific as significant.
Soon, Ishant lumbered back to his bowling mark, and from a rather shorter run-up chugged in. His delivery was, on the apparent, nothing special. If any, it pitched shorter than his usual length. But on closer inspection, one realizes that the ball took an awful lot of time to reach the batsman after pitching. Dawes went up to him again and yelped out some minor correction. Ishant approvingly nodded his heads and retraced his run-up.
If delivered accurately, the slower bouncer can be a potent weapon for bowlers at the death. The effect is twosome. The batsmen spots the length and shapes for the hook or the pull. But the ball arrives unexpectedly slower, which makes it difficult for him to change it at the last-minute. The ball still rises up like a fast bouncer, but arrives 20-25 kmph slower.
That is why you often see a batsman, initially deceived by a slower bouncer, make a desperate swish at the ball as it drifts past him. The result is a precious dot ball or a wicket (feather to the keeper or top edge).
The other advantage of this delivery, if effective and smartly disguised, is that the batsman these days are aware of it and they will naturally wait for it. It thus enhances the bowler’s other deliveries, especially the quicker bouncer. Also, it is difficult to practice for it, since every bowler’s disguise is different and it cannot be simulated by a bowling machine.
Though rather late, the wisdom of the slower-bouncer has dawned on the Indians, too. Desperate to stop the run-deluge at the death overs, they are trying out every possible trick in the trade (at least in the nets).
Never had India the reputation of being maverick at death, but of late they have been horrendous. In four games, they conceded 53 runs in the last five overs at Pune, 57 at Jaipur, 52 in Mohali and 44 in Ranchi.
But forget slower bouncers, Indians are even struggling to execute the conventional yorkers and slower balls. And there is doubtlessly a lot of pressure on the bowlers and the bowling coach. The team, though, backs them to fire sooner than later. “It's definitely challenging in terms of what the batsmen are doing. They are going for their shots. The credit needs to be given. But we keep trying to devise different strategies and see what we can do. These things do happen. As long as you are putting in the hard yards then you just have to be okay with it,” reckoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.