May 31, 2012

West Indies in England, 2012

Even an innocent no-ball is a criminal offence

Carlyle Laurie

47 no-balls were bowled in total by England and West Indies in the first two Test matches. Mike Selvey, writing for the Guardian, says that bowling no balls is ‘unprofessional’ and is equivalent of batsmen running short runs.

No bowler should send down a no-ball unless deliberately (pacemen occasionally do, by a distance, to soften up a tailender in the knowledge that they still have the full complement of deliveries to dismiss them, while the Essex stalwart John Lever, who was said never to have bowled one in his entire career, did so right at the end, just to annoy their scorer). Essentially, it is unprofessional, the equivalent of batsmen running short runs, although most of us have done so at some time. It is the serial offenders that are really at fault.

Former England captain Alec Stewart, writing for bbc.co.uk, says that England produced a highly professional display to beat the West Indies at Trent Bridge in the second Test, with the only negative being Jonny Bairstow's form against the short ball.

In my view, people have been far too quick to cast doubt over Bairstow's credentials as a Test player. He was given a working over by Roach and was eventually caught off a leading edge, but it's far too early too say whether he has a genuine problem with short-pitched bowling or whether it was simply a bad 10 minutes, which everyone has at times in their batting careers.

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