England Cricket … we might still win but

We might still win … it is not beyond the realms of possibility but … there are problems with the team.

In time to rethink I suggested there was trouble in the dressing room. I also suggested that in spite of the apparent failure of the batting unit the real issue is with the bowling unit.

I consider that a strike bowler is someone who worries the good batsmen keeping them honest, while being able to roll over the tail … we dont have anyone who fits the bill.

Once again I have listened to a constant stream of TMS commentators bewailing the insistence on short of a length bowling. Broad in an interview said we are trained to bowl short of a length … it is not easy to pitch it up. Sorry the bowling coaches are not up to scratch. For a fast bowler to vary his length without changing his action is simply a case of how deep into the web between thumb and forefinger he holds the ball. The closer to the tip the sooner the ball releases, the deeper the later it releases and the shorter the length of the delivery.

Correct length on any wicket is not a fixed distance from the batting crease but the length which based on the bounce of a particular pitch and the bowlers action results in a ball that will hit the top of the stumps. Every bowler should in training be developing his ability to hit the top of off stump. Every coaching manual tells you that you must aim for the top of off stump … it is the ball most likely to get batsmen out. If you have learnt to vary the depth of the ball in the hand, adjusting the length based on particular pitch conditions should be second nature. 

This length should generally be forcing batsmen onto the front foot … which brings the classical attacking fields into play. The "funky" fields that rely on the batsman mishitting a ball (I have emphasized hit rather than defend or stroke) should be seen very rarely … it should only be spinners who buy their wickets by offering the batsman an opportunity to hit. We are seeing too many fields being set that are effectively daring a batsman to have a go in the hopes he mishits. School boy cricket. I found it was much easier to settle (get your eye in) if I got the opportunity to hit a few without much foot movement.

I think we need to stop relying on swing so much … every cricketer knows that swing is very dependent on the ball and while one swings another wont even if you stand on your head! There is a tremendous amount of variability in hand made Dukes balls, our bowlers need to learn to rely on their own ability rather than the fortune of getting a ball that swings a lot. We need a Hoggard in the side … consistant regardless of conditions … why not Ryan Sidebottom or Graham Onions they both know how to get wickets without needing to create the drama of batsmen being hit on the body.  

As an aside:

I was saddened to see Philander fined for ball tampering, while picking at the seam with your fingers is time immemorial … there is no need especially with a side as strong as the South African side. Perhaps we should accept Chappel's advise and automatically suspend players for ball tampering.


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