January 9, 2012

Bowling

A pace renaissance begins

Nikita Bastian

Be it Vernon Philander, Pat Cummins or James Pattinson, Doug Bracewell or Umesh Yadav, pace has dominated in the most recent Test series, says Andrew Alderson, writing in the New Zealand Herald. Subsequently, in the age of Twenty20, batting techniques look brittle.

Observations indicate pace bowling's resurgence could be a trend; at least in places where grass grows willingly. Evidence of pace bowling dominance has come with the wickets taken in the last five series. In the first test of the Australia-India series, quick bowlers took 88 per cent of the wickets; in the South Africa-Sri Lanka series up until the end of 2011, it was 76 per cent. The Australia-New Zealand series saw 80 per cent of the wickets fall to pace, whereas it was 83 per cent between South Africa and Australia.

... Perhaps the most telling example of the demise has been Rahul Dravid's recent lean trot. The batsman known as "The Wall" has looked more post-1989 Berlin than China against Australia, getting bowled three times in two tests, including between bat and pad twice ... Dravid is not alone among the world's batsmen. Blades of willow looked redundant at times in 2011 when you consider teams passed 400 runs in a test 24 times out of 141 innings (17 per cent). Added to that is the fact seven of those 24 innings came from the world's No1 team, England. Compare that to 2010 when teams scored 400-plus totals 45 times in 164 innings (27 per cent).

In The Hindu, S Ram Mahesh writes of how Craig McDermott has silently transformed the fortunes of Australia's pace attack by getting them to bowl fuller.

All around the world, bowlers of fast-medium pace and greater are starting to reclaim lost ground from batsmen, cricket's glory boys. The conditions have conspired, at least in England, South Africa, and Australia, and the seamers, like spotting that old pair of jeans in their closet that has returned to fashion, have found, to their delight, the fuller length.

In the Indian Express, Karthik Krishnaswamy looks back at the success fast bowlers have had at the WACA in Perth, and how certain batsmen have had their moments too. But with the pitch reportedlyt returning to its old menacing ways, he asks how Rohit Sharma, a debutant, will rise to the challenge.

The acronym, WACA, sounds like whacker. You almost expect to see it in the dictionary. Whacker: Noun; a bowler, made ten times as potent by the bounciest pitch in the world, liable to cause batsmen bodily harm with whacks to the chest, side, arms and head.

Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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