October 12, 2011


The truth about Malinga's slingers

Andrew Hughes
Steve Davis has a laugh while checking the light meter with MS Dhoni, India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 3rd day, February 16, 2010
"Er what, you put your camera phone in my pocket instead? Ha ha, I see, very funny"  © Associated Press


Sunday, 9th October The League of Runners-Up is over and at last Mumbai have won something other than the Best Team In Mumbai Trophy. The injury-prone Indians lumbered to a bruising points victory over the Chris Gayle XI in a scrappy dust-up made fascinating by the flaws of the contenders. In the blue corner: Harbhajan’s half-fit Hamstring-Tweakers. And in the red corner: Daniel’s One-Trick Ponies (or perhaps, Two-and-a-half Trick Ponies, if you count Kohli and half a Dilshan).

But this is Planet IPL and Bangalore can still win this thing where it really matters: in the courts. I reckon they’d have a good case. For a start, there was clear evidence of bias towards the men in blue. After being careless enough to allow several of their players to be injured, Mumbai were granted special permission to play an extra foreigner. Yet when Bangalore asked if their captain could increase his quota of overs from four to 20, on the grounds that none of their other bowlers were any good, their entirely reasonable request was turned down.

And then there is Malinga. Watching him shatter the timber against Somerset yesterday, I began to suspect he is up to something. If my hunch is right, while the Slinger is warming up, Rayudu plants a small explosive charge at the base of each stump and then, at the moment of delivery, Malinga presses the button on his hand-held yorker detonation device. Sometimes he doesn’t even let go of the ball. No wonder his victims look so bemused.

Tuesday, 11th October That beeping noise you can hear is the sound of the ICC backing up as it slowly reverses world cricket down the same cul-de-sac into which it drove it last year. We were told that DRS was the very thing, the absolute cherry on the technology trifle and that we were heading into a brave new world in which every decision would be the right one, small deer would feed from Aleem Dar’s hand as butterflies fluttered about the popping crease and Simon Taufel’s path would be strewn with rose petals.

But no longer, it seems. The problem is not really with the technology, but the men operating it. Umpires are not good with gadgets. They can juggle little stones to count the deliveries, they’re pretty good with a small pencil and they can read the hands on a clock to within a 30-second margin of error. But that’s about it. Look how they treat the light meter, wielding it as though it were an ancient and mysterious Aztec artefact of great power that no mere mortal can defy.

A new breed of umpire, capable of wrestling with all this data, might be one solution. Computer science undergraduates could do the job and you probably wouldn’t have to pay them very much. But then, a teenager in an unironed shirt triumphantly solving the lbw equation to 17 decimal points just doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal of Steve Bucknor’s slow finger raise or the quirky fun of Billy Bowden’s stick-insect gyrations. Without the man in the white coat it just wouldn’t be the same.

So now that we’re back in technological limbo, it’s time for cricket to ask itself the big questions. Does Hawk-Eye work in the dark? If your bat was on fire, would Hot Spot still be able to detect a nick to first slip? Why aren’t wicketkeepers’ caps fitted with lie-detectors? And is accuracy all that matters? Or to put it another way, isn’t it time to bin the gadgets and let the umpires get on with umpiring?

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Alex Fleming on (December 24, 2011, 14:22 GMT)

Probably Andrew's best article. He needs to relax his views on the DRS, Its work in progress. As it evolves we will gain more pure match results. I support more challenges and also including umpire reviews for when say he's 50-50 on an LBW shout. How many shocking heinous errors have there been down the years in Test cricket? Taking just LBWs and caught-wicket-keeper I can confidently say there have been hundreds of howlers over 150 years. It's inspiring to contemplate it in this way: What would've Bradman's average been had he the benefits of the DRS? Who knows it may have been lower. While the human umpire swings-and-roundabouts theme is romantic if like me you are passionate about Test cricket then the DRS should be embraced. Rather than denounce as you rightly claim journos do to ODIs in defence of pure Tests, the DRS should be seen as a life line for Test cricket, something to be pursued to perfection. So what the rest of the world stops playing Tests - We'll always have the Ashes

Posted by pavan mocherla on (November 9, 2011, 13:33 GMT)

hey andrew, isn't it funny and ironic - you are commenting about Champions League er...sorry, runnersup league...held in india with so much respect and admiration...any such articles happening on the winners league in old blighty??? u mean the old folk watching wouldn't care??? sour grapes???

Posted by Tania on (October 13, 2011, 8:10 GMT)

Aha! I knew no one could bowl such accurate yokers so consistantly. Thanks for unearthing the real story behind Malinga's success ;-)

Posted by Jai on (October 13, 2011, 3:55 GMT)

"If your bat was on fire, would Hot Spot still be able to detect a nick to first slip" this was hilarious!

Posted by Kartik on (October 12, 2011, 22:24 GMT)

absolutely love this guy. cheers mate

Posted by Ravi on (October 12, 2011, 19:56 GMT)

Malinga has GOT TO BE the BEST ever to bowl a "mean" yorker at will.....And fast at that!!!! I just love to watch him bowl!!!!

Posted by Paddy R on (October 12, 2011, 19:34 GMT)

Very, very funny.

Posted by Madhavan on (October 12, 2011, 19:15 GMT)

Absolutely Hilarious!! Especially the bat on fire part and Vettori's plea to bowl all 20 overs!! Well done Andrew!

Posted by sadf on (October 12, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

yo ya

Posted by Shane Watson on (October 12, 2011, 17:06 GMT)

wicketkeepers' caps fitted with lie-detectors. Hah!! I would love to see one in Sangakkara's cap.

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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