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Thread: Did Reverse Swing hamper Pakistan cricket?

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    Global Moderator Fusion's Avatar
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    Did Reverse Swing hamper Pakistan cricket?

    Reverse-swing has hampered Pakistan cricket

    'Reverse-swing has hampered Pakistan cricket'

    The fiery former Pakistan batsman on opening, straight-talking, and a chat with Ian Botham

    Interview by Sidharth Monga

    July 28, 2008


    I was not a serious cricketer before college. Once, I was playing a house tournament in college and the captain saw me play. I had scored quite a few runs and had a few wickets. He asked why I was not playing for them. I said, "I am doing my pre-engineering and I don't have the time. I have to take practicals and everything." He literally followed me around, insisting I play. So I played one tournament, and then I went for the Lahore Under-19 trials and was picked. That's when I thought, "If I got picked, there must be something good about my cricket."

    The name of the game is the same. Even in Twenty20, if you are a technically correct batsman you have more opportunities to manoeuvre the bowling rather than if you play expansive shots. Twenty20 teams are realising that it's not just wham-bam. There has to be thinking involved. You might succeed without it in one or two games, but eventually you will get figured out.

    The attitude and aggression I used to use in my cricket, are the two things I miss the most. I can't use them anymore.

    Wasim Raja was my captain at Lahore and he asked me to open. When I hesitated, he said, "Do it. Pakistan won't be needing middle-order batsmen in the next four or five years. There is Saleem Malik, there is Javed Miandad; it will be hard for you to get in. Start opening the innings, you will play for Pakistan."

    There is nothing wrong with the religiosity in the Pakistan team; that's their personal choice. As long as they are delivering 100% on the ground, they can do whatever they want to.

    I was very lucky to have Saeed Anwar and Ramiz Raja as opening partners. We developed a good understanding because we became good friends.

    Ultimately reverse-swing hasn't helped Pakistan cricket at all. How many new-ball bowlers have you seen who are very good? Reverse-swing has helped Pakistan achieve things temporarily, but when you look at it in the long term, it has actually hampered Pakistan cricket. You are not getting good new-ball bowlers. If you are not getting good new-ball bowlers in your first-class structure or club cricket or at the top level, how do you actually think of getting good openers?

    Courtney Walsh and Glenn McGrath were the most difficult bowlers to open against. They were fantastic. They had that immaculate line and length, and at the same time they could bowl at pace and do something with the ball. Playing against them you always had to be concentrating hard, you had to show good technique. Otherwise it was difficult to survive against them.

    If you have a solid defence and an awareness of where your off stump is, you can always work on improving as an opener.

    Saeed and I used to spend a lot of time together. We had this passion for buying music systems. We used to buy the latest stuff in the market, enjoy music together; train together, play squash together. That friendship off the field was a great help, and that relationship is still there.

    From Wasim Raja I learned how to deal with youngsters: how to actually sit down and talk to them, how to instill confidence in them. From him I learned that it is an obligation for a cricketer to pass on what he has learned.

    Prior to the World Cup in 1992, 18 or 19 probables went to Australia. For three weeks I never got a hit, even in the nets. I was tagging along. One day I came back to the dressing room after a workout and I was told I was playing the next day in place of Saleem Malik, who had got injured. I played that game and made a few runs. I was batting along with Imran [Khan], hitting the ball nicely towards the covers, and he said to me: "It seems like you have been playing in Australia for a long time." That gave me a lot of confidence. Finally, after the warm-up matches, I was at the hotel reception one day when Imran came and said, "You are playing the World Cup." Just like that. "The way you have been batting, I will play you in all ten games, and if you score nine ducks, I will still play you in the final." I can't forget that.

    As an opener, you also had to consider the mindset of the players to follow. If Nos. 3 and 4 were in good form, we would attack from the beginning; if they were struggling, we tried to be cautious. At times, if we thought the rest of the batsmen were nervous and the pitch difficult, just to ease the pressure we deliberately used to take the attack to the bowlers. Different mindsets had to come out for different games.

    My favourite innings came in Perth in the World Cup. We had not been getting the right results in the tournament, and it was a crunch game, against Australia. Imran said, "I'm banking on you. Not many batsmen have been successful playing at Perth - not only Pakistani batsmen but from all over. But I think you have the talent." I got 76 runs, and when I got out he was the next man in. He waited for me to cross the boundary and he patted me on the back and then entered the ground. I really enjoyed that.


    My opening partners and I, we used to discuss cricket, we used to discuss oppositions, and we were open and honest about it. " I might struggle against this bowler. Can you face him for some time?" We used to look at the other batsman for technical deficiencies. After the innings, or sometimes during an innings, we used to say: "Okay, you are not moving this foot well and you have to be careful."

    I was never a temperamental person. I just played my cricket with passion and aggression - people may have taken it wrongly. Everybody loses his temper once in a while; it's the same with me.

    Imran, Miandad and Malik really knew their cricket, and they were exceptional captains. I didn't play a lot of cricket with Imran but he was the sort of person who knew how to manage people, how to get the best out of them. Miandad was a great help technically, and tactically it was Miandad who used to really help Imran. But the guy I really enjoyed playing under was Malik.

    I was not surprised when Saeed started to drift away from cricket and towards religion. He always had that element in him; it was just a matter of time. Whatever it is, he was a great servant of Pakistan. He was the most talented opener I had ever seen. Some strokes he used to play used to mesmerise me.

    This game has given me so much, and I respect it. If there is something wrong going on with it, you have to make your point. At times you can't be politically correct; if you try, you won't be able to make sense. At times you need to be vocal, and I was.

    Navjot Singh Sidhu and Venkatesh Prasad are still good friends.

    It was disappointing to read in Ian Botham's book that he said wouldn't even send his mother-in-law to Pakistan. A person like Ian Botham should realise what we were going through. When they came over in 1978, martial law was on, there were security problems, and England had a completely different culture. When I met him in 1996, I went up to him and said, "Sorry, if you take offence, but after reading the book I felt hurt. I really didn't like that coming from a person like you." He shook my hand and said, "I have something to tell you as well. Okay, fine, I respect the difference in culture. We have a culture where we go to pubs, we have the night life, this and that... We respect that is not on in Pakistan, but cricket should not be dull. The pitches should be sporting, we should at least have fun somewhere." That point was taken, and I think that that was a fair point and should be heard.

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    Global Moderator Fusion's Avatar
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    Interesting comment from Sohail in a rather fun interview to read. Reverse swing has always been touted as Pakistanís most prized weapon. Young Pakistani bowlers have grown up watching Sarfaraz, Imran, Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib and the likes use it to demolish batting orders. Those young bowlers have obviously tried to copy them. However, has this skill really hampered long-term growth of Pakistanís pacers? Have they started to rely on it so much that they have lost the skill to bowl with the new ball?

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    Norwood's on Fire GIMH's Avatar
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    I think there is always danger associated with trying to replicate a tactic just because it worked in the past. See also England post-Botham and perhaps Australia in this post-Warne era, admittedly they were just one player rather than a national tradition but I think the same sort of logic can apply. If you can reverse it great, but otherwise then just focus on being a good bowler.

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    International Regular Beleg's Avatar
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    On the contrary, which of the current Pakistani bowlers can reverse the ball prodigiously?

    After Razzaq and Akhtar there hasn't been a single Pakistani bowler who's been able to reverse the ball appreciably. The culture died out with the retirements of Wasim and Waqar and the advent of a batting captain - Inzamam.


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    International Regular Beleg's Avatar
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    Aamir Sohail, as a batsman, was highly overrated and perhaps given more opportunities than he deserved. He was selected in the team ahead of the likes of Shoaib Mohammad and Zahid Fazal - both of whom performed more consistently then he ever did.* - In case of Fazal, domestically during the early 90's.

    Not to mention a couple of first class veterans who never got the chance because Imran Khan didn't like their batting styles.

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    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Reverse swing isnt a bad thing. However, it is a complimentary skill to using the new ball, bounce and accuracy.

    If you dont have the other skills then it will not do too much for you. Just being able to bowl reverse swing means nothing if you cant do the other things well. Reverse makes good bowlers better. It cant make bad bowlers good.

    See Doosra- Loudon
    If I only just posted the above post, please wait 5 mins before replying as there will be edits

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beleg View Post
    On the contrary, which of the current Pakistani bowlers can reverse the ball prodigiously?

    After Razzaq and Akhtar there hasn't been a single Pakistani bowler who's been able to reverse the ball appreciably. The culture died out with the retirements of Wasim and Waqar and the advent of a batting captain - Inzamam.
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH-fuCZ32M8

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7GYycZDwzQ

    Aamir Sohail, as a batsman, was highly overrated and perhaps given more opportunities than he deserved. He was selected in the team ahead of the likes of Shoaib Mohammad and Zahid Fazal - both of whom performed more consistently then he ever did.* - In case of Fazal, domestically during the early 90's.

    Not to mention a[B] couple of first class veterans [//B]who never got the chance because Imran Khan didn't like their batting styles.
    care to name these veterans?

    "Zahid Fazal - performed more consistently then he ever did"
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    International Regular Beleg's Avatar
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    err, two isolated instance - and the swing in the first instance was pretty minimal.

    regarding the domestic batsmen, i'll get back to you in a bit.

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    ^^ yep...go and dig up cricinfo to back up ur claim.

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    SJS
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    Take away the few hundred wickets Wasim, Waqar, and Sarfaraz etc took with reverse swing and see how Pakistan's performance (looking back) turns out.

    It is the first time I have heard the theory that reverse swing somehow affects a bowlers capacity/ability to bowl normal swing. All the three great original exponents of the same did not seem to have this handicap.

    Some smart ass reporter decides to float a new theory and thats it.

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    Global Moderator Fusion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJS View Post
    Some smart ass reporter decides to float a new theory and thats it.
    Actually it's Aamir Sohail. You got the "smart-ass" part right though.

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    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJS View Post
    Take away the few hundred wickets Wasim, Waqar, and Sarfaraz etc took with reverse swing and see how Pakistan's performance (looking back) turns out.

    It is the first time I have heard the theory that reverse swing somehow affects a bowlers capacity/ability to bowl normal swing. All the three great original exponents of the same did not seem to have this handicap.

    Some smart ass reporter decides to float a new theory and thats it.
    I think the point is that young players are focusing on reverse swing as the basis for their arsenal and bowling. Rather than as a great weapon that needs to be built on a solid foundation of orthodox skills.

    Waqar and Wasim could still be very dangerous when the ball didnt hoop. Reverse was an additional skill that when combined with the right conditions *cough* made dangerous bowlers even more lethal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Goughy View Post

    Waqar and Wasim could still be very dangerous when the ball didnt hoop. Reverse was an additional skill that when combined with the right conditions *cough* made dangerous bowlers even more lethal.

    90MPH+ Right?

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    International Regular Beleg's Avatar
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    Bouncer,

    Ghulam Ali. For starters. He used to play for PIA and was a surprise pick during the 99/00 tour. (well, not really a surprise pick - he should have been picked years ago). Perhaps the most prolific first-class Pakistani batsman of his era - he excelled in the longer version of the game and was rewarded with a total of 3 ODI's over 2 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beleg View Post
    Bouncer,

    Ghulam Ali. For starters. He used to play for PIA and was a surprise pick during the 99/00 tour. (well, not really a surprise pick - he should have been picked years ago). Perhaps the most prolific first-class Pakistani batsman of his era - he excelled in the longer version of the game and was rewarded with a total of 3 ODI's over 2 years.
    There are many players (present and in past) who score heaveily in first class but are/were not an international material. Hasan raza, faisal iqbal, Shadab kabir, Vinod Rathore, SS das etc etc

    another example of such Pakistani player is Shakeel ahmed...guy was picked up for WI tour after scoring runs in first class and was dropped afterwords...i think was given couple of more games but at 24 year age he was dropped and never picked again.

    The only person that a case can be made for is Shoaib Mohammad, but Imran always wanted someone in team who has more aggressive attitude and can take on bolwing from word go...and that is what did help amir t get picked up in squad, but Imran only captained amir for about 10 games ot so and afterwards amir played because he deserved to be included and not only he was a batsman but also an avergae bowler too so he always merited his place in squad till he ran got into fights with match fixing mafia within pak team and openly started questioning their motives.But it is interesting to notice that even though he had differences with people like Malik buthe goes on record in this interview sayng that he really enjoyed playing under Malik.

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