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Thread: The New Shoaib

  1. #1
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend honestbharani's Avatar
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    The New Shoaib

    http://sport.guardian.co.uk/englandi...667644,00.html



    It was a great read.




    How a Flintoff put-down fired up reborn Shoaib

    The fast bowler who has destroyed England in both Tests and one-dayers tells David Hopps what sparked such devastating form

    Thursday December 15, 2005
    The Guardian


    England have been terrorised by Shoaib Akhtar throughout their tour of Pakistan and, the way he tells it, with the loose recollection of a natural raconteur, his resurgence as one of the world's great fast bowlers was sparked by a joke from Andrew Flintoff that the Englishman has lived to regret.
    It was in Australia in October, when Shoaib and Flintoff were team-mates in a struggling World XI, that a burst of earthy Preston wit goaded Shoaib into a concerted attempt to reclaim past glories.

    "It would probably be rude to put it all down to the personal comment that Freddie Flintoff made - 'It's all about the physique, he looks like Tarzan but he can't bowl' - but he said that out in Australia and I thought 'Thanks for focusing me'. I was struggling with injuries and maybe he didn't mean it like that. But it made me realise that something needed to be done. I had to find the full fast bowler in me."

    There is no malice, and Shoaib and Flintoff recently chatted over dinner in Lahore about how the series has unfolded. But Shoaib, once more, took his place at the table as a renowned fast bowler, an untamed, sweat-laden, lethal adversary, whose potent of mix of bouncers, yorkers and slower balls settled the Test series in Pakistan's favour and threatened a similar outcome in the one-dayers.

    In Australia, Shoaib was unfit and unfocused and, when he was not chosen for the Super Test, did not turn up until the last two days. He had been castigated as lazy by Worcestershire's chairman, John Elliott. Pakistan's coach and captain, Bob Woolmer and Inzamam-ul-Haq, privately feared that, at 30, he might be spent.

    His status reaffirmed, he can talk of the bad times. "There have been lots of comments made about my commitment to the team. I said to them: 'I am a cricketer and I am here to serve my country to the best of my ability. Let me start with a new chapter.' Money and fame - I've been there and done that."

    It is Shoaib's camouflaged slower ball that has eaten at England's nerves. Their first instinct is to fear a 90mph head-high beamer before the ball dips mockingly towards the stumps. It did not work well in the first Test in Multan, but he retired to his room, sketched charts of Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan and decided that the slower ball, which he does not spin but wedges between his forefinger and thumb, must become part of his armoury.

    "I practised the slower ball in the nets, I used cones and a stick, thinking that my ball should fly high to this point and dip from there. At first it wasn't dipping well. I wouldn't blame batsmen if they are playing a ball at 95mph and the next one is 60mph. Obviously, they will struggle. If it was me, I would be scared."

    He has not always been a thinking bowler, his bowling brain being entirely programmed in his early days by that mighty Pakistani fast bowling pair, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. "They were both there at mid-on and mid-off. Every ball I bowled, they would say, 'bowl this one, bowl bouncer'. I never used my own brain. They left and I struggled for a year. Finally I managed to pull myself up, to be a thinking bowler.

    "I need to develop so I can be an effective one-day bowler. That's why I stress 'Please allow the bouncers - fast bowlers are the charming people in the game.' If they allowed two bouncers it would make such a difference. Then the batsman is on the back foot and, if I loop the ball up and it drifts down it looks like a beamer to you. I have a 70% chance to get people out."

    Then, at his peak, following the 1999 World Cup, came the throwing accusations that almost forced him into retirement. There was no ICC system in place to rehabilitate suspect actions, no biomechanical studies, no 15-degree allowance in recognition that nearly every bowler delivers with a bent arm.

    "One day I got a call saying: 'You've got to fix yourself. You're a chucker. I thought 'Fair enough, what do I do now?' But there were no options. With one phone call they banned me. With another phone call they lifted the ban. Then it happened again, and again. I went to see Dennis Lillee. He took one look at my arm and said: 'Sorry mate, I can't help you. Go and see a doctor.' Do you expect this arm, when it's moving, to be straight? Even a golf club bends when it moves fast."

    Inzamam had questioned if he could ever integrate such a wild spirit as Shoaib into a young Pakistan side seeking unity through religion but, against the odds, it has happened. Shoaib, the western-influenced playboy, now talks warmly about the happiest Pakistan side he has known. "We have had some bad times. Now we're learning we have to be united. If someone's down, go and pick him up.

    "It's to do with the religion thing as well. People are forgiving, and that's the best thing. I am not the strictest Muslim, but I should pray. I am Muslim. It is just an obligation. You can't get away with part-time prayers; you have to do it. But I am a bit more religious, a bit more calmed down. I stay in my room, watch videos, watch cricket, work on charts, think about the one-dayers - just take it easy."

    He even talks about marriage, claiming that he has found someone but conceding that she doesn't know. When he presents Glenn McGrath as a behaviour role model, the world seems to have lost all sense of logic, but he does. "I want to settle down. [In the] next five years I would like to be a calm person, do as normal people do, like McGrath. Everybody likes to settle down. I'd like to concentrate on my cricket. I've got a talent. I have to deliver."
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  2. #2
    Virat Kohli (c) Jono's Avatar
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    Go Shaoib I hope this is a turning point in his career and he fulfills his talent, even if it does mean he leads Pakistan to victory against India in the upcoming test series. He's my favourite bowler to watch when he's on. Possibly my favourite player to watch too. He's an excitement machine and when you add his speed, showmanship and ability to change a match all into one package, it makes great entertainment.
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  3. #3
    Cricketer Of The Year Robertinho's Avatar
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    Sounds like he's really matured. Great to hear. A good character, and could become a great, still.
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    International Coach Barney Rubble's Avatar
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    Ever since I saw Shoaib bowl as a guest player for Somerset against the 2001 Australians as an impressionable 14-year-old I've been fascinated by him - it's fantastic that he finally appears to be knuckling down and sorting himself out. As has been said, the sight of Shoaib tearing in and sending down scorching 95mph yorkers is one of sport's greatest, and it's good to know we should be seeing plenty more where that came from.


  5. #5
    International Captain Slow Love™'s Avatar
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    I love Shoaib, and I'm really fascinated by this new slower ball of his - I haven't seen it yet.

    BTW, out of curiosity, has he shortened his runup significantly at all?
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    International Vice-Captain open365's Avatar
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    If Shoaib has really turned a corner he will be absolutely fantastic in years to come and i hope he has because i love watching him.

    He makes a good point about his arm bending in delivery,i never thought about it that way before.

    When i saw slow mos of him bowling i was quite astounded to see how much his arm flexed,but that comment makes me take it all back,he's just bowling fast,he's not trying to chuck it.

    good read.

  7. #7
    International Vice-Captain open365's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Love™
    I love Shoaib, and I'm really fascinated by this new slower ball of his - I haven't seen it yet.

    BTW, out of curiosity, has he shortened his runup significantly at all?
    His slower ball is pretty special from what i've seen,though that may have something to do with the clueless batsmen at the other end.

    And no,he seems to have justs as big a run up as before.

  8. #8
    U19 Cricketer maxpower's Avatar
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    How many wickets did he take with the slower ball, did'nt Kaneria pertty much run the table ? why is he getting so acclaim for a ball that he's been bowling all throughtout his carrer without much success ?
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    U19 Cricketer no1_gangsta_786's Avatar
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    He is getting so much acclaim for the slower ball because now he has learnt how to use it to devestating effect.
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  10. #10
    International Regular Beleg's Avatar
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    maxpower: This current 'slowie' of Shoaib's is pretty different from the stock slow ball employed by him previously. Read the related paragraphs in the interview closely. The change of pace is far more prominent and the ball comes on in a loop, dipping quite steeply at the last possible instant. This, coupled with his deadpan accuracy and his reputation as a yorker-man (the batsmen is never quite sure just what the next ball is going to be) is what has made this modified version so successful.

    Whilst Kaneria was the catalyst behind England's collapse at Lahore, Shoaib was by far the best bowler in the series as a whole on both sides - hell, even Botham admitted it freely. It's a series where ultimately his figures, whilst quite good, in no way reflect the quality of his bowling.

    His run-up is pretty much the same, from what I can acertain. Though he will seriously have to think about shortening it soon - past 30 so he ain't getting any spryer. Perhaps he fears that he won't be able to maintain the same accuracy and the same 'aura' he is able to conjure up with such an imposing, though exhausting, run?

  11. #11
    U19 Cricketer maxpower's Avatar
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    I will try and check out this "slowie", but some how I think its the ENG batsmen fumbling, but credit to Shoiab if he's finally learned something like that. I recall something very similar like this ball used by great effect by one bowler called Waqar to great effect all over, which was very similar to a baseball curve ball. Here Benaud talks about it:
    "Waqar's fast dipping full toss is basically the in-curver in baseball," Benaud explains. And it is bowled with index finger on the seam, second finger next to it and close, the bowler bowling from very close to the stumps, his shoulder falling away at the point of delivery so that the line is essentially an arc, beginning from off stump, curving away outside off and then straightening again towards the second half of its flight - the curve coming from the shoulder dip and the locked arm and wrist at point of delivery."

    BTW: what matches did he bowl this ball particularly, so I can try to find those highlights, thanks.
    Last edited by maxpower; 15-12-2005 at 02:02 PM.

  12. #12
    International Vice-Captain open365's Avatar
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    in the last ininngs of the last match he picked up 3 wickets with his slower balls.

    more recently he did Trescothick with one in the 2nd ODI match

  13. #13
    International Captain Deja moo's Avatar
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    The only bit of cricket from the entire Eng-Pak test series I caught live was "that session", where Kaneria and Shoaib knocked over England on the final day of the series... talk about catching the best bit live! And yes, those slower deliveries were lethal. It was the oddest of sights. The viewer at home could immediately pick them halfway through, and could only stare in amazement as the batsmen walked right in front of the stumps as if in a trance.
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    International Vice-Captain Dasa's Avatar
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    Shoaib is one of my favourite players to watch (seems to be a common sentiment), and I really hope he can continue this new attitude. It's a shame that it has taken so long for him to get things together...had he played every Test that he could have, Shoaib could have already been ranked as an all-time great.

  15. #15
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    I've noticed several quite huge changes in Shoaib over the years but the two biggies are run-up and this slower-ball;

    Run-up: He doesn't charge at full-speed to the crease anymore. His run-up is as long as it ever was but if you have a look at footage of the 1999 WC, he used to absolutely sprint in whereas now it's a slow build-up and he doesn't hit the crease quite as hard. The up-side is that he now uses his natural power in his shoulders and arms rather than his run-up so even though he's not running in as fast, he's noticibly quicker and this has been the case for a few years now. Even from 1999-2001, this difference was there. I get the feeling he was a fair bit lighter in 1999 too.

    Slow-ball: He charges in as usual and bowls what I can only describe as a fast arm-ball. Two things make life difficult for the batsmen; the dip (as mentioned above) and the fact that nearly all of his slower-ball wickets swung away from the bat. So not only do batsmen have to pick up that it's not a 150km/h beamer coming at them but a 110km/h loopy-ball but it's also moving from a non-threatening outside leg-stump ball to a bending-back middle-stump yorker. Very, very tough to play and slingers seem to bowl it best; a mate of mine used to do something similar and I swear his slower-ball is absoltely unpickable for this reason. Why? You see the ball very, very late and the only change is finger position. The arm speed and most importantly arm-position remain exactly the same.

    Either way, bravo to Shoaib. I've been a fan for many years and I certainly thought he would slowly peter-out as a Test bowler. How wrong can one be? His bowling in the recent series was inspirational. Fast, aggressive and accurate but most importantly, no four-ball to let-up the pressure on the batsman anymore. Add all that to a huge ticker (something which people never really thought he possessed) and you have one damn dangerous bowler.

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