"People try to compare between the players of the past and the present, but the conditions under which the Bradmans and the Comptons played were different," - Sobers.
World XI Since 1990 -
1. Gooch 2. Dravid 3. Ponting 4. Tendulkar 5. Lara 6. Kallis 7. Gilchrist 8. Akram 9. Warne 10. Ambrose 11. McGrath
Anyway, taped tennis balls or those lightweight replica practice balls can make that twisty leg-spinner work. You cannot do that with a real cricket ball. It puts immense strain on the wrist if you try to land it accurately.
Surely accuracy is really the big factor here, and really what made Warne so great. If you can consistently land it in the same spot bowling fast spin then you could be a handful but if you land it anywhere then whats the point?
Might seem an obvious statement, but bowling leg-spin is difficult enough so adding in a run up. Really no surprise barely anyone does it.
Coming back to the Pakistani bowlers, the good ones have always been good new ball bowlers. The only difference was that they were good with the old ball too which, in the 1980s and 1990s was a taboo.
The current demise, in my humble opinion, is part of a cycle similar to the one Pakistan faced in the 1960s when Mahmood Hussain, Fazal Mahmood and Khan Mohammad retired and Pakistanis won just two home tests over New Zealand over a period of a dozen years. What compounds the problem is the absence of international cricket. Although Pakistani fans would tell you they are great, the current lot, Junaid Khan and the rest, are only decent bowlers at best. If they had people like Imran, Wasim and Waqar available, they would be missing in action for good. Pakistanis played a good one-day bowler, Rao Iftikhar Anjum for a good number of years and he was a far better proposition than the likes of Sohail Tanvir. However, we can see the change in mindset: Sohail Tanvir with his 125kph bowling and no swing, is likely to contain more in Pakistanis' view than Rao Iftikhar who was a proven wicket-taker.
On the domestic front, Pakistanis use domestically produced cricket balls and not Kookaburra ones. The local balls are harder (making them good for reversing) and aid seam more than swing when new. So if the wickets don't help, you see huge scores in Pakistan cricket. However, for a while, they started leaving a lot of grass and the bowlers simply did not have to try hard enough.
Anyway, this is a long topic and we can discuss it some other time.
Jimmy Anderson - not a great bowler but a very good one; I think credit is due when he delivers in India and Australia as well.
Stuart Broad - a decent bowler in favourable conditions
Graeme Swann - a very good bowler, perhaps one of the best off-spinners of modern era remembering that post-1970s, only Harbhajjan Singh, Saqlain Mushtaq and may be Saeed Ajmal could fall in that category. He has won you games in India (outbowling Indian spinners in India is no joke) and South Africa etc. Very, very underrated. Muralitharan is not an orthodox spinner.
Junaid Khan - not so good.
Mohammad Irfan - made his debut a decade too late. He will end up as a decent bowler at best.
Mohammad Amir - exceptional talent. Don't pin your hopes on his revival though. Five years without cricket at such a young age is not a good sign. Had he and Asif continued, the Pakistanis would have had the most versatile attack in the world.
The point to note here is that not everyone is going to be the leader of the pack. Since you come from New Zealand, I remember Ewen Chatfield of New Zealand who was a very good bowler but only in the support role. Similarly, Junaid Khan can be a very good bowler but to expect him to lead an attack to wins is simply not on. Irfan too can be a very good support bowler. Umar Gul, when he started, was playing second fiddle to Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami and Shabbir. His record early on was exceptional. Then he got injured and found that Sami was forced to lead a helpless attack with Shabbir's career finished and Shoaib not bowling at all. Suddenly he was asked to lead an attack and his performances went downhill. The same happened with Sami.
The point is that it is for captains to identify the talent, ability and personality of the bowler and ask him to fulfill that particular role.
Imran Khan was very good at it. He would take himself off denying himself easy wickets and instead bring on an embroynic Wasim Akram to get the last wickets so that his confidence could go up. But again, Akram always had it in him to lead attacks. Aqib Javed had it too but was not adequately skilled. Sami had a lot of skill but was always a follower, not a leader.
Coming to the English XI, from what I have seen, Broad has leadership traits but lacks both skill and brain for now. Both of these he can grow in with time. From the 1980s and 1990s, you had Graham Dilley who was basically a good support bowler but was forced to lead the attack because of dearth of fast-bowling talent. He did so manfully for a while but was not meant for that.
I think the smartest English bowler I ever saw was Angus Fraser. He knew his role and limitations and was crystal clear about it. Even when forced to step up, he seemed to let his captains know not to expect too much but would then outdo himself from whatever support role he had to play. To top it, he was a thorough gentleman of a very gentle disposition.
The point I was making about the England attack is that they have noone anywhere near the Imran/Wasim level, or even Steyn/Philander, but they get the job done. Granted, they have batsmen that get the runs on the board, but they're still capable as an attack to completely run through a side - as Broad has done twice already this year.
I agree that there isn't really one true pace spearhead, but a) I think you're underrating Junaid - I think in a couple of years he could be at least as good as Jimmy Anderson b) the spearhead of the bowling is in Ajmal anyway.
re: Swann - I don't think outbowling R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja is particularly impressive.
Well there are people like afridi and gayle who hit 120-125 Km from time to time but bowling consistently with pace and your fingers rolling is asking for trouble. Not a bad thought though. cheers.
Last edited by dynamosports; 20-11-2013 at 12:31 AM.
Steyn will be an all-time great by the time he retires.
Outbowling Ashwin and Jadeja is no big deal but doing better than Indian spinners on the whole against Indian batsmen in India is something to be taken seriously.
Remember that uptil now only Saqlain Mushtaq in 1999 and Danish Kaneria in 2005 (when he outbowled Kumble and Harbhajjan Singh) and to an extent Nicky Boje in 2000 have managed it in recent times.
Junaid has the potential to be a very good bowler but I agree, he may not be the spearhead. And your point about Gul is spot on. He was always a support bowler and nothing more.
Do you know anyone in the domestic scene who is good enough to come into the team?
As for Pakistanis, I have not followed domestic cricket seriously for over 20 years but here are my observations:
Javed Miandad is the staunchest, most jingoistic supporter of the current domestic setup. He is holding a corporate executive's position in the Pakistan Cricket Board and with the onus now completely on the Pakistani system to produce players, he should have the moral courage to stand up and say that he has been wrong all these years.
Five, six years ago, a bowler called Sohail Khan took a record haul in Pakistani domestic cricket. He broke several records, including most wickets in a match in Pakistan. He had a good action and generated genuine pace. He was 23 then but not considered good enough. Today, it is too late to play him. He did play two tests - a test played on a a bowlers' graveyard and the second in which he bowled steadily but by that time he was 27 already. Now he is 29.
The same holds for all other bowlers who do well but are never considered good enough. When they are finally blooded, they are way past their prime.
So if you ask me, I do not have many hopes. May be some years from now, a tearaway will come out of nowhere like Imran Khan did at Sydney and spark a revival. But with this setup and this management team? I am sorry.
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