Rediff Logo Cricket
May 18, 1999


send this report to a friend

England demands a fuller length

Indian bowlers will have to hit an English length. They were pitching the older ball far too short against the South Africans in the opening game and that is the reason why they suffered such punishment at the hands of Jonty Rhodes and Lance Klusener at the finish.

Bob simpson, the team's technical consultant, has been taking to the bowlers at length. He also supervised their light training at the break at Hove when the fast bowlers came out to warm-up before the South African innings. They did not, however, carry out what Simpson may have had in mind.

It is apparent that Simpson is in complete charge of the technical aspects of the game. Anshuman Gaekwad is the cricket coach but he has been adopting a low profile while the former Australian skipper who played a major role along with Allan Border in restoring the pride in his nation's cricket in the 80's has taken complete charge.

The Indians are responding to Simpson's methods as was seen in the greater coordination and aggression in running between the wickets in the course of the long stand between Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. There has also been some improvement in the way the fielders throw the ball as seen in the smart run-out they effected to deny Jacques Kallis his century.

The Simpson method may not have reached the bowling yet. Javagal Srinath was brilliant with the new ball. He had a vice-like grip on the batsmen when the ball was moving around, but once it go older, Srinath began pitching shorter than the ideal fuller length that bowling in England calls for.

Bowlers know instinctively what length to pitch in what conditions. But, sometimes, they tend to get carried away, particularly when they start believing more in their speed than in the cleverness of variations of length and line that more often brings success in the one-day game. Early summer in England generally belongs to the clever fast medium seam bowler than the pure fast bowler.
England demands a fuller length because the pitches are slower than the ones in Australia and South Africa. The faster bowlers will be at a disadvantage if the pitch is dry and slow as it was in Hove. With the exception of Allan Donald, the South African fast bowlers also suffered from not being able to hit upon what the pros call the English length.

Young Ajit Agarkar had a poor opening game. In thinking like a fast bowler he may have erred in his basic length which was too short. English conditions may allow the ball to move around in the air and off the seam, but the pitches are not going to offer too much additional bounce. Your have to work for it and mix up the delivery of genuine pace with slower ones.
Agarkar will learn quickly and the team would be committing a mistake if it casts him out after one bad game.

The great success of Indian medium pacers in the World Cup of 1983 lay in the fullish length to which they bowled. A seam bowler like Roger Binny is never going to pitch the ball too short, and by allowing the ball to go further down before pitching, he also gave it the maximum possible time for it to swing late.

Binny was like a cat among the pigeons when he rattled the Australians at Chemsford in the vital game India had to win in order to qualify for the semi-finals. He was particularly brilliant at bowling at left-handers many of whom he had edging to the keeper or bowled through late movement in the air.

Madan Lal was another who rarely erred in thinking like a big fast bowler and trying to blast batsmen out. He too bowled the pro's English length. By 1983, Kapil Dev had settled to being a fast medium bowler. His best bowling figures in terms of wicket-taking success came in the World Cup of '83 when he took five for 43 in 12 overs in an Australian total of 320 in 60 overs in their first meeting at Trent Bridge.

Kapil's strategic use of Mohinder Amarnath as a fifth bowler who made the ball wobble in the air off a deceptively lazy run-up was a major coup of India's winning campaign. Until the World Cup, Mohinder had hardly bowled in his one-day international career and he was handling 12 overs in a match with aplomb.

The current crop of bowlers would certainly benfit if they watch the highlights of the matches of 1983 in which India turned the cricket world upside down. Between 1983 and now, batting methods have become far more positive and these modern bats are also helping batsmen thump the ball more than stroke it.

Still, India's bowlers have a lot to learn from the seasoned masters who bowled India to a comprehensive victory in a total of 183 which was all that the batting could offer in the final. It is a pity then that the Indian board which has a coach and a consultant as well as a former Test batsman as the tour manager did not think of adding to the army of technical personnel one of the fast bowlers of the 1983 winning team as consultant to the seam bowlers in this squad. 


Tell us what you think of this story