Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Selectors in a spin

It may be narrow discussion but it feels right. We've seen an all-out leggie in Capetown, the first since you know who (sir), so with several spinners tried in a year I reckon it warrants debate.

Has Australian cricket been preoccupied with spin bowling because of who bowled hand grenades for a decade or so? I sense some impossible gap-filling going on. Hilditch made comments about the role of spin bowling in Australia's test team, before Capetown, which placed it secondary to pitch conditions. This may seem innocuous as the 11th position at the WACA is unlikely to be taken by a spinner if they can't bat! But Hilditch also ensured the media was clear about his decisions in lineup being justified by Durban and Jo'berg. Self-righteous bollocks! But perhaps hooker is understating the role of spin bowling in Aus' test team because he's not sure there really is any for the long haul.

I think Aus has reached a spin recession though. This is why I hate what Warne has done to cricket. He's set the bar for spin capacities outside the reach of the current proponents of bowling magic. I'm sure the inner desire for gentle flighted drift followed by 60 degree turn is dreamed of by many of us. But we 'ain't getting that from Hauritz, Krejza, White, Casson (!) - maybe McGain but I want to be more positive - or any tried bowlers wearing the baggy green.

During the Perth test against South Africa Justin Langer commented on the respect generated from being selected to play for Australia. By selection you were equal. Someone had believed you were good enough to represent Aus so you must be ok. Unless you're Muller.
I don't think 'frontline' (what the hell does that mean) spinners have been picked judged against this sort of selection process since SK left through the back door. This isn't to say that none of the spinners afore mentioned are not good enough to play for Australia. It's just that they don't seem to be great at picking up wickets and/or slowing the runs over a series. This doesn't just refer to the SCG or all-of India, but quicker or bouncier pitches. You're picked to tour or play at home because you'll regularly contribute.

It's not just Warne that has bamboozled batsmen - though certainly very few have dominated so consistently - but Murali, 'Bahji', Mendis (yeah I know Stoph; looked him up), Harris (maybe worth a post alone) and others get results as out-and-out spinners. While chucker hasn't had great success in Aus there's not many other places he hasn't. Even aside from local pitches and a culture that encourages slow bowling, many spinners bowl well - through containment, tempo change or striking with wickets - on a variety of surfaces.

From looking at the current 11, 12 or 13 blokes hovering around the Aus team, I reckon from Katich, Clarke or North spin overs should come. Unless selectors can resist window shopping at spinners: trying them on and returing them damaged. Even though Krejza appears destined for a certain heap, 12 wickets in a test are unlikely to be entirely fluked. But he's gone. Maybe forever.

I guess there's Dan Cullen, the other Cullen, maybe David Hussey?


  1. Rather than raise the bar for the next generation of spinners I think Warne lulled the general public into a false sense of security that Asutralia would always have a quality spin bowler. This sense was steeled by MacGill being around at the time when Warne was unavailable through drug suspension. Losing both has woken us all up to the harsh reality that before Warne our spinners were by no means sensational, more solid. Australia need to redefine what a spinner's role is in the side and publicly state it or the masses will continue to expect herculean acts from trundlers. If their role is to restrict on a less than spinner friendly deck we need to pick "spinners" with more variety and changes of pace, Vettori is a master at this. If they want to attack on a rampaging turner then pick a spinner that can really rip them. Stoph put your hand up and throw down the gauntlet. If your Mordialloc Bowling Club 3rds will release you for the duration. The fact is not many spinner can master turn, flight and changes of pace so perhaps one spinner is not the solution they are looking for and that Warne provided for too long.

  2. i think that there is little doubt that a certain mentality towards the need for spin-bowling has been manicured by the glut of talent Australia have had.

    Unmentioned has been G.B.Hogg filling the role when Warne pulled the pin on ODI cricket. Not that i rated the lefty too much, but he was obviously world class enough to hold that spot and had the biggest turning wrong 'un i've seen.

    My criteria for a "front-line" spinner would be: can get more than deviation turn on any track, can do that with any ball (after 10 overs would be fair, but if you want to be an attacking captain and want to ensure you have it wrapped up before tea on the last day your "front-liner" should be able to rip it off the seam!), can bowl 30+ overs in a day in spells of 10 if needed, gets wickets (obviously!), strangles the scoring.
    Clearly a massive order, but if you want a full position in the team based on your bowling all these boxes must be ticked.
    otherwise, a spinner/s should be "horses for courses.

    So the bloke that have played this year:
    Krezja- i think covers the first 4 points. whether better field placements would have made a difference to the last, is another debate.
    Hauritz- after the pasting i gave him here proved he wasn't "passed it" yet, but for mine is only a ODI bowler. clearly he is thoughtful about his deliveries, but he doesn't have enough fizzers to do any more than stop runs.
    White- is just not good enough at leg spin! he was the next great hope in his youth, but in reality he never polished the craft and should NEVER be picked as a bowler. his control is erratic at best and he just bowls too many long hops. I also think, that due to his height he doesn't get enough loop on the ball and seems to just come straight down on release.
    Casson- i just can't comment because i don't know enough about his style, and i'd rather base my opinion on what i see, not stats.
    McGain- Oh how i'd loved another Vic leggie... my definition of cricket bliss! But the new Bryce is not right! As i've said before, he just bowls too flat for mine and is only using the visually obvious part of the craft, spin. I still think he wasn't used properly, but that doesn't change the fact he did diddly squat! If he could release the ball a few degrees earlier maybe it would play a bit through the air...but he is a bit of an old dog to learn that trick at a level needed to sustain an internation career!

    So what does all of this tell us?
    Clearly spin is a specialist craft, one i don't think anyone has solely focused on (case to point C.White!), but also that we did just expect a follow on of talent that got as good as Warne and Co by watching them. great expectations created by the joy of watching the greatest exponent.
    So why didn't a flood of bean-eating, txt sending, chain smoking wristies wash up on our shores when the rip pulled Warne out to the IPL and to media and beyond?
    It looks to me like CA just thought the further development of spin would be organic!
    Surely when Warne announced his retirement the best (smartest) action would have been to stampede towards him with an offer of coaching role! "Yes Shane, when you've finished at Hampshire, done the book thing, had some fun with the media and what ever else you want to do is done, how do we get you to be MORE than just a mentor to the up-and-coming bowlers?"
    It would take more than a cheque- he blatantly doesn't need the money; so what do you want Shane?

    CA missing this opportunity has created this gap, but there is still the ever ongoing future if they believe it is so vital to have this type of bowler in the side.
    What are they going to do about it!?

  3. NL, i actually think- without just saying this to be a wowser (well, maybe a little!)- i am a better leggie than McGain, because i can turn it more and have good flight and land it in that spot that (mostly) anchors the batsman down with doubt. Man that makes me sound awesome!

    unfortunatly, unless i get called up for the RSA ODI's i will debute at 40! imagine the fodder for the media.

    Mordi 3rds would love my but i will be commiting to the granpa league next season, as games are only every 2nd w/end. Lay-zy!

    i bowled a few overs to the 1sts wristy (chinaman) while he was waiting for others to turn up to training (in early Jan) and i think he was intimadated! he didn't like it when others turned up and told me i should play for them.

    ah the glory!

  4. (Off topic) Alright Stoph, the time has come. I propose a net session with yourself and myself and anyone else on this forum that can strap the pads on and quieten Stoph down a dB or two. I love nothing more than punishing spinners but rarely get the opportunity opening the batting. As a keeper I have become quite good at reading the spin and bounce. Who do you play for? Cricket is only a week gone and I already miss it. Maybe we can get some winter training in this year?

  5. sounds great... i was thinking about this idea a couple of days ago. i'm sure Outside sledge will be in. it needs to be a weekend; in a few weeks time as i'm booked up on the next couple.
    got another bloke here keen too, so we can certainly mix it up a bit.

    mmmm, opening batsmen, uuuuurrrrrrggggghhhhh! oh baby.