Australia v India, 3rd Test, Melbourne, 2nd day December 27, 2003

The perils of spongy bounce

The pitch was expected to assist the bowlers on the first day, and then become a good batting wicket on days two and three, before helping the bowlers for the rest of the game. Contrary to expectations, the wicket held firm on the first day and for most part of the second, but gave away signs of the shape of things to come. The bounce was uneven and the batsmen had a few close shaves while going for their strokes.

Ricky Ponting nearly gloved the ball on more than one occasion as it hurried on him, and at other times found attempted pull shots not going where he intended, because the ball arrived slower than he expected. Matthew Hayden scored a century as well, but not before surviving close lbw shouts while sweeping Kumble, again flummoxed by the spongy bounce. Although Australia played only 75 overs to India's 90, they still mistimed more balls, were beaten more often, and overall were not in control a lot more often.

Indian batsmen - Day 1
(balls)
Australian batsmen - Day 2
(balls)
Mistimed
7
8
Edge
19
23
Beaten the bat
16
17
Not in control
71 (546)
87 (459)

Legbreak or googly?

Anil Kumble bowled as many googlies as he bowled legbreaks. A further breakdown reveals that he bowled as many legbreaks to the right-handers, as he did googlies to the lefties. Sure, conceding 102 runs in 24 overs didn't reflect well, but Kumble kept the batsmen guessing. This is reflected in the high not-in-control percentage, compared to the relative ease with which the Australian batsmen played the other bowlers.

Delivery
Right-hand batsmen
(balls)
Left-hand batsmen
(balls)
Legbreaks
45
28
Googlies
28
45

Australian batsmen against Indian bowlers

Kumble
Other Indian bowlers
Balls not in control
34 (23.2% of total balls bowled)
53 (17.7% of total balls bowled)

The terror every three and a half games

Ricky Ponting, who remained unbeaten on 120, scored his 20th century in 74 Tests. That's about one in every three and a half games. But since October 2002, Ponting has had an amazing run, scoring over 2000 runs in just 15 months, including ten centuries. Even at a time when a number of batsmen are scoring prolifically, Ponting stands out with his consistency, and sheer volume of runs.

Batsmen since October 2002

Batsmen Tests Innings Runs 100's Average
Ricky Ponting
19
27
2076
10
86.5
Matthew Hayden
19
30
1984
9
73.5
Rahul Dravid
10
18
990
3
70.71
Graeme Smith
17
26
1539
5
61.56
Michael Vaughan
17
32
1408
5
45.41