Fourth Test, Melbourne December 28, 2006

The Best-Laid Plans

"I just close my eyes and whang it down anyway, so there's not much planning there." Thus Matthew Hoggard, bringing the house down at his press conference last night, in response to the mysterious straying of England’s bowling plan

"I just close my eyes and whang it down anyway, so there's not much planning there." Thus Matthew Hoggard, bringing the house down at his press conference last night, in response to the mysterious straying of England’s bowling plan. And quite so: the plan is mainly of curiosity rather than strategic value.

Mind you, noone would be surprised were it Sajid Mahmood’s copy, as he was not bowling to any recognizable logic either. He has an athletic run-up, a good turn of speed, and bowls a remarkable variety of deliveries, including a change-up that reminds me of the pitcher Tommy Johns’, whose slower ball was said to be so slow that he could walk alongside it. But he is as raw as sushi: an international bowler must be able to bowl consecutive deliveries in the same place. If Martin Johnson hadn’t used it to describe Devon Malcolm, he would deserve the tag ‘Lightning’ for never striking twice in the same place.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments